Confused about which needle to use when? Help is on hand with our Needle information guide.

Choosing a Needle according to the animal

Animal Size of Animal Administration
Cattle 15G – 16G – 17G Short SubQ / Long IM
Sheep 18G – 19G Short SubQ / Long IM
Goats 18G – 19G Short SubQ / Long IM
Horses 18G Short SubQ / Long IM

Inject the vaccination or medication according to the directions on the packaging

This will require using one of the following methods – SubQ, IM, or IV

 

  • Sub-cutaneous (SubQ; under the skin). This is best done on the neck area, near the crest and near the shoulder of the animal. Pinch the skin with one hand, and insert the needle just below your thumb into the skin. Be careful not to go all the way through and out the other side or to inject yourself as this can lead to complications. Usually only half of the needle should show above the point of injection. This way it ensures you do not have the needle all the way in, but where it needs to be. Depress the syringe until it’s empty or until you have injected the required amount of fluid into the animal. Remove needle and rub injected area to seal site and prevent the liquid you just injected from coming back out.
  • Intra-muscular (IM; into the muscle). To prevent from ruining meat quality, most IM injections should be done in the neck, just like with SubQ. IM injections are best given on the top muscular part of the neck, not in the middle as this is often where the jugular vein and arteries are. Thump the area firmly a few times with your fist, then jab the needle in. Let the animal settle down after a little if it jumped when you stick the needle in. Attach the syringe to the needle (if it’s not on there already), depress the syringe, then remove the needle and syringe from the injection area. Rub the area firmly for a few seconds to help numb the pain.
  • Intra-venal (IV; into a vein). Find a suitable blood vessel (not a major vein as that could be messy), then push in needle at an angle so that it won’t fall out, then attach the bottle or IV bag of whatever your injecting (generally calcium or magnesium, or IV fluids). Make sure, prior to injecting IV, that no air is in the IV line or syringe. Then VERY slowly, depress the syringe. Do not rush it, as too much fluid at one time could be very detrimental to the animal.

Route of Administration

SubQ (1/2-3/4 inch needle) IV (1 ½ inch needle) IM (1 inch needle)
Injectable Viscosity Cattle Weight Cattle Weight Cattle Weight
under 300 300 – 700 over 700 under 300 300 – 700 over 700 under 300 300 – 700 over 700
Thin Example: Saline 18-16 Gauge 16 Gauge 18-16 Gauge 16 Gauge 16-14 Gauge 20-18 Gauge 18-16 Gauge 18-16 Gauge
Thick Example: Oxytetracycline 18-16 Gauge 18-16 Gauge 16 Gauge 16 Gauge 16-14 Gauge 16-14 Gauge 18 Gauge 16 Gauge 16 Gauge
Select the needle to fit the cattle size (the smallest practical size without bending).

Broken Needle Guidelines:

  1. Restrain animals properly and adhere to injection site management as outlined on page tbd.
  2. Do not straighten and reuse bent needles. Replace immediately.
  3. Develop a standard operating procedure for dealing with needles broken off in cattle.
    • If the needle remains in the animal, mark the location where the needle was inserted.
    • If a broken needle cannot be removed at the ranch, contact a veterinarian immediately to have the needle surgically removed.
    • If a broken needle cannot be extracted from the tissue, record the animal’s ID to ensure that it is never sold or leaves the ranch. At the end of its productive life, the animal should be euthanatized and disposed of properly.

Quick tips:

  • Handle the animal as quietly and calmly as possible to ensure the animal doesn’t get agitated and try to run or become unruly to handle.
  • Keep vaccines refrigirated as directed.
  • Dispose of any broken, bent or dirty needles.
  • Ensure you are using the correct gauge and size neeedles according to the size of the animal.
  • Make sure to use the correctly sized syringe for the type of liquid you are injecting as well as the required dosage.
  • Don’t keep any expired medicines.