The design of dairy facilities has historically made it difficult to give injections in the neck region versus the hindquarters, but today is that still a good enough excuse to keep giving injections in one of the best cuts of meat as well as risking potential residue problems?
In the November issue of Bovine Veterinarian, you’ll see the results of a survey given to dairy veterinarians about their dairy-beef quality assurance (DBQA) knowledge and practices. Some of the information could be better — BQA has been around since the 1970s and the dairy industry is still slow to adapt many of the injection-site or residue-avoidance procedures. Granted, dairy producers don’t attend as many meetings as their veterinarians and may not have all of the latest scientific information on tissue damage, meat quality and the impact of residues in the meat. But this type of information has been readily available to veterinarians for years now.
Is it possible that veterinarians have these issues so ingrained in their minds that they fail to recognize that producers may not be as familiar with them, asks Virginia Fajt, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVCP. “We who are experts and who deal with these topics on a daily basis forget that producers have other issues to deal with beside injection practices.”
Are you tiptoeing around that big, Holstein-spotted elephant in the room because you don’t want to rock the boat with your dairy clients who will have to change procedures? Or are you just not comfortable with how to address the issue and potential protocols that will probably not make those clients too happy?
The beef industry has definitely had a head start with BQA and much of that might be due to facilities that are more BQA-friendly as far as injection-site locations. But does that justify throwing money away on valuable cuts of beef from dairy cattle because of an inconvenience? Or leaving a potential lesion in a cut of meat that makes it to a restaurant or grocery store? At a time when our industries are really under fire about food safety, every measure that can be taken to ensure it should be put in place.
In the DBQA article, Barbara Knust, DVM, says, “Sometimes, just the way that veterinarians demonstrate their own injection practices can be influential to the client, especially if we explain why we are choosing the neck for a particular injection location.”
Getting a producer to change how injections are given can be like pushing a rope uphill. The best you can do is train, educate, com-municate, advise and encourage your dairy (and beef) producers to follow BQA procedures. This “second career” of the dairy cow as a beef animal is critically important to our food supply and we want to leave no room for error. It’s encouraging to see the attention our industry is paying to this to make sure the food we put on the world’s table is of high quality, no matter what type of bovine it comes from.