Cow/Calf Corner... Follow BQA Principles When Working Cows and Calves
Mark Z. Johnson, Oklahoma State University Extension Beef Cattle Breeding Specialist
Following BQA guidelines is a commitment to consumers by producers for a quality product. It also ensures the safety, health, and welfare of both the processing team and cattle. A little planning can ensure that processing day runs smoothly and follows BQA Guidelines. The first step is to consult with your veterinarian for herd specific recommendations. The next step involves planning for administration and team training.
When planning for vaccinations, consider that vaccines should not be saved from one processing day to another as the possibility of contamination is high. Additionally, modified-live vaccines are no longer viable after about an hour following mixing. Plan to routinely use a permanent marker to write mixing time on the bottle. Purchase medications from reliable distributors as close to processing day as feasible. If products are on hand, make a note to review expiration dates.
Select syringes that align with treatment amounts. If using a multi-dose syringe, calibration and treatment volume verification ensures accurate administration. Syringes can also be color coded with tape to make sure cross contamination of products does not occur. Spare parts for all equipment should be on-hand processing day and disposable backups too.
Select smallest size needle based on cattle size and medication choice. BQA requires all injections to be given ahead of the slope of the shoulder unless otherwise directed. When planning ahead, remember needles should be changed with damage, contamination, and biosecurity in mind. When refilling syringes, a new needle should always be used.
Finally, it’s time to prepare the team. Experienced individuals on the processing team may simply need an update. Individuals new to the team may need more extensive training and coaching. BQA training of all personnel involved in handling and processing cattle is recommended.
Most cows and calves are likely to be handled individually. BQA guidance recommends the following records be maintained for individuals:
Individual animal identification
Product administered and manufacturer’s lot/serial number
Route and location of administration
Earliest date animal will have cleared withdrawal period
Name of individual administering each treatment
An easy method to document product information, especially in adverse weather, is to take a cell phone pictures of the boxes or bottles including expiration date and serial number. Each picture will be time and date stamped and the information can later be transferred to electronic records or even paper.