General Guidelines for Cow-Calf Vaccinations


1.  Make sure that the vaccines you purchase are federally licensed.  Purchase them from a reliable source that has been conscientious about the handling and storage of the vaccine.13

2.  Make sure you purchase the proper vaccine for the cattle you are vaccinating.  Read the label directions carefully, and if you have any questions or concerns, consult your veterinarian. 13, 14

3.  Store the vaccines in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.  When actively vaccinating cattle, it is important to keep the vaccine out of direct sunlight and in a portable cooler. 13, 14

4.  When the vaccine requires mixing, only mix enough vaccine that you will be able to use in a short period of time and discard any unused product by burning containers. 13, 14

5.  When a virus requires reconstitution (MLV vaccines), be sure to use clean transfer needles so that the vaccine does not become contaminated.  It is recommended to use a bleeding needle because they are disposable and cheap (see your veterinarian).13, 14

6.  Shake bottles well each time a new syringe is filled.14

7.  Do not mix two different products in the same syringe unless they come packaged to be used in combination.13, 14

8. Use only new needles to fill and refill syringes.13, 14

9. Use the proper needle gauge and length. 

-16 ga. X ¾ or 1 inch for all subcutaneous (subq) injections

-16 ga. X 1-inch needles for intramuscular (IM) injections in young cattle

-16-ga. X 1½ inch needle is used for IM injections in adult cows and bulls 13, 14

Always use sharp needles – burrs take in hide, hair and debris resulting in injection site infections and abscesses.13

It is recommended to change needles every 10-15 animals or when the needle becomes bent, burred or dull.14

10.  Make sure to use the proper injection site as described by the product insert.  If given a choice between IM and subq administration, always choose subq to prevent injury to the muscle.  Give all injections in the neck, but avoid giving IM injections into the nuchal ligament, the large ligament at the top of the neck. 13, 14


11.  Vary injection sides between both sides of the neck. 14

12.  Remove air from syringe before injecting vaccine into animal.14

13. To properly clean the syringe, with the needle and needle cover on, wash the outside first.  Next wash your hands thoroughly, break the syringe down, and perform the cleaning procedure.  Do NOT use alcohol, disinfectants, or detergents when cleaning syringes used for MLV vaccines.  DO use distilled hot water to clean them, rinse with more hot water.  Dry them on a clean paper towel, oil them with silicone, and store them in a clean dry area in a plastic bag. 13