Points to remember

  • Always give intramuscular injections in the neck of cattle. Your veterinarian should know about this meat industry requirement.
  • Use a clean, sharp needle.
  • Follow the withholding periods carefully for the product used.

If you have to give a cattle beast an injection in the muscle, do not give it in the rear end.

This is called an “intramuscular” injection where you poke the needle straight into a big muscle. It contrasts with a “subcutaneous” injection where you pull up the skin up to make a “tent”, and then stick the needle in the tent and fill it up.

What’s the risk with intramuscular injections? There are two concerns. The injection may leave a residue, or it may cause an abscess. Consumers who buy our meat - both here and particularly overseas, don’t like either of these things in their joint.

We all know that the rear end of a beast is the easiest place to jab a needle. The muscles are big, and it doesn’t move as much as the front end. The neck end has a head on it that moves, and sometimes has horns.

The neck is the recommended place for intramuscular injections because the meat is of lower value, so can be discarded with a much less financial loss if there are problems. Remember all stock end up at the meatworks at some time in their lives, so the advice applies to ALL cattle beasts, and not just prime cattle.

At the meat works, if there is an injection site lesion (coded on your killing sheet at ISL), that shows up as scarring and abscesses, the tissue may have to be sent off for laboratory testing to make sure residue limits have not been exceeded. Certainly, a large part of the surrounding tissue will be cut away and condemned.

Make sure you read the label carefully to find out the “withholding period” for the product used. This is the period that you have to wait before the stock can be sent to the meat works. Products have different withholding periods and this will be displayed on the package. If not, then check with your veterinarian.