Procedures for Handling Dairy Cows Before They Enter the Food Chain

Dairy producers should always remember that cull dairy cows will enter the food chain. Cull dairy cows are not just ground into hamburger but provide other cuts of beef for our food supply.

Dairy cows receive several injections and dairy producers should follow several general rules. Any product that carries a label that states it can be given either subcutaneously (SQ, under the skin) or intramuscularly (IM) should be given subcutaneously. If a product has both routes of administration on the label, then it has been shown to work equally well by both routes. But by administering the product subcutaneously, muscle damage can be avoided. If a product is only labeled for the intramuscular route of administration, then it should be administered in the muscles in the neck region.

A recent study showed that administration of 5 milliliters of Lutalyse® caused significant muscle damage. Administering all products that must be given intramuscularly to dairy cows in the neck region will ensure that any muscle damage will be confined to the lower cuts of beef. Notably, Banamine® and its generic equivalents are only labeled for intravenous administration. When used according to label, these products have a 36-hour milk withholding time and a 4 day meat withholding time. These products are often administered intramuscularly and are extremely irritating to tissue, causing extended withholding time. There have been several cases of residues caused by the intramuscular administration of these products.

Provided by John Currin, Extension Dairy Veterinarian, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech & Virginia State University

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