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Virginia Cooperative Extension - Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Injection site lesions in dairy animals are a problem.

Dairy Pipeline: April 2002

Gerald M. (Jerry) Jones
Professor & Extension Dairy Scientist,
Milk Quality and Milking Management
(540) 231-4764

The presence of lesions caused by injections into top sirloin and outside round cuts of meat limits their use and value. Most injection sites are concealed in muscle or under subcutaneous fat and are not apparent until after carcasses leave the packing plant. Colorado State University investigations have found that 35% of samples collected in the year 2000 from outside rounds of dairy cows had lesions in comparison to 20% from beef cows. This was an improvement from 1998 when 60% of dairy cows had lesions compared to 31% from beef. The authors suggest that many lesions in dairy animals were due to dairy calves being injected at younger ages. Often, carcasses require greater trim when injections are given to calves. Their research indicates that dairy cows were injected in the lower rounds from behind and probably were restrained in self-locking head restraints or injections were given in the milking parlor. Beef animals were injected between the hooks and pins while held in a chute. They concluded that 2-5% of lesions are likely intramuscular at a time close to being slaughtered. Beef producers are encouraged to use strategies that won't compromise beef tenderness and quality by reducing bruises, decreasing hide damage, and preventing drug residues and injection-site lesions. Avoid giving medications close to slaughter that could cause residue violations in meat. Producers are encouraged to use products, where possible, that are cleared for subcutaneous, intravenous, or oral administration. Subcutaneous injections should be given in front of the shoulder. If treatment must be intramuscular, it should be given in the neck region and no more than 10 cc administered in one site. Use as small a needle as possible.

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