Stocker health programs are critical to your success, but even the best health plan won’t be effective if you don’t store your animal health products properly. Beef Quality Assurance educational programs provide good guidelines on the proper care of animal health products. But a recent report revealed that producers are not always following best practices recommendations, especially when it comes to how they store their vaccines and other animal health products.

According to a report published by Tom Troxel and Brett Barham, faculty members with the University of Arkansas, most animal health biological products should be kept refrigerated at 35° F to 45° F unless labeled otherwise. To help determine how well producers were following this and other BQA recommendations, the researchers worked with University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension county agents to analyze 191 refrigerators where vaccines and other animal health products were being stored.

The agents used a data logger to record refrigerator temperature and inventoried over 1,800 health products to determine how many had either been opened and were still being stored, or had expired entirely. Of the 1,800 animal health products in producers’ refrigerators, 11.8 percent were expired and 29.3 percent were opened. “One of the worst situations we encountered was a producer’s refrigerator that contained 31 bottles of animal health products, of which 100 percent of them had previously been opened and 28 bottles were expired,” Troxel says.

Expiration dates should be printed on a product’s label, and it is important to not use products that are beyond their expiration date. Mixed modified-live vaccines should be disposed of one hour after mixing. Killed vaccines should be used within 10 days of being opened.

Of the 191 refrigerators tested as part of this study, only 51 recorded temperatures between the recommended 35° F to 45° F. Forty-five of the refrigerators tested were only at the proper temperatures less than 5 percent of the time. According to Troxel, animal health products should be stored in refrigerators that maintain the proper temperature range more than 95 percent of the time. Based on this guideline, more than 76 percent of the refrigerators tested were unacceptable for storing animal health products.

The data did reveal that location can also play a role in a refrigerator’s ability to maintain a proper temperature. Refrigerators that were located in a temperature-controlled environment, such as an office, appeared to be better able to maintain the appropriate temperature.

Troxel stressed that proper maintenance of refrigerators is also important to helping them maintain appropriate temperature ranges. Cleaning the coils and the drip pan can help even an older model provide a more consistent environment for stored animal health products. Location is also important to making sure a refrigerator maintains a proper temperature range. Keeping the unit away from other appliances and out of a hot environment should be considered.