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Giving Injections

Disclaimer: I am not a vet and persons looking to give injections should seek out help from a trusted veterinarian as needed.

Follow the label directions for injection technique. Always give the amount specified. CD/T is usually 2 cc and is injected SQ.

Choosing needle and syringe sizes:

Normally sheep are given injections with an 18 gauge needle. If a specific medicine warrants the use of a specific size needle, by all means use that size instead of the 18 g. Personally, I wouldn't use a 16 gauge needle on a sheep unless it was for an IV.

Because vaccine amounts are usually small (such as 2 cc for the Bar-Vac CD/T), a 3 cc syringe will suffice (but you don't want to fill it all the way to 3 cc, only 2 cc, or as the dosage indicates). You will need to get a larger syringe if you need a larger dosage of medication.

Remember: 1 cc = 1 mL

Getting the vaccine into your needle/syringe:

  1. Take the vaccine vial and roll it in your hands to shake/mix the contents. Do not literally shake it--this causes bubbles and you do not want bubbles going into your animals.
  2. Take your STERILE needle and poke it through the circle on the top of the vial.
  3. Turn the vial upside down, so the top is facing downwards and the needle, still in the vial, is facing upwards.
  4. Pull down on the plunger of the syringe, about 1/2 to 1 cc more than what you need. Then push on the syringe to the amount you need and pull out the needle from the vial. This helps prevent any air from getting in your syringe.
  5. When traveling with your needle (i.e. from your house to the barn), always put the cap on it! This not only helps to keep it as sterile as possible, but it also prevents the needle from possible bending and if you were to trip and fall, it prevents you from being stabbed with a needle containing medicine labeled for another species.
If you plan on re-using your needle between animals, do NOT take a dirty needle (i.e. one that's been in an animal) and put it back into the vial. Keep a sterile needle in the vial and simply put the dirty needle on the syringe once medicine has been put in it. We use a fresh needle for each animal.

Here's how to give the different types of injections:

Some people rub isopropyl alcohol on injection sites prior to giving a shot. There is nothing wrong with that, but we do not do this. Some people also shave or shear the area where a shot is going to be given, but we do not do this.

  • Subcutaneous (SQ), or under the skin -
    • Make sure the sheep is in a secure position. You don't want them to run away while the needle is still in them!
    • Pinch the wool/hairless skin near the armpit. Put the needle through the skin and release your pinch.
    • Slowly press down on the plunger of the syringe to inject the sheep with the vaccine or medicine.
    • Take the needle out and rub the injection site with your fingers to encourage the fluids' absorption by the body.
  • Intramuscular (IM), or in the muscle -
    • If this is an animal to be processed for meat, you don't want to give them an IM shot in their leg or loin--the highest valued cuts. The intramuscular bruises resulting from giving shots will have to be cut out, reducing the value of the carcass. Because of this, meat animals are commonly given IM shots in the neck (a lower value cut).
    • Make sure the sheep is in a secure position. You don't want them to run away while the needle is still in them!
    • Part the wool or hair where you will be giving them their shot, so you can see their skin.
    • Stick the needle into the skin and pull back a little. If blood comes into the syringe, pull out the needle and locate a different injection site. If there was no blood, continue by pressing down on the plunger to release the medicine into the animal's muscle.
    • Take the needle out.
** Needles should only be used once per animal or until they get dull (this may be up to 30 or more animals). Keep needles and syringes in a hard plastic container labeled BIOHAZARD until you can properly dispose of it. **
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Great tutorial!
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