When it comes to showing and raising livestock, it is common practice to administer vaccines and other medicines to ensure that your animals look and perform at their best. However, before you rush out to your local feed store to purchase these items, make sure to take these following things into account:

1. Where to Purchase: Always purchase medicines and vaccines from reputable sources, such as your veterinarian or your feed store. If you prefer to save some money by ordering online, just take some time to make sure the site you are using is taking adequate precautions to make sure you receive good products. Don’t be offended if stores will not let you return specific medicines or vaccines – it is nothing against you personally, but it ensures quality for all consumers. Just make sure to purchase the right product for your specific need and there will be no need for returns.

2. When does it Expire: Almost all medicines and vaccines have expiration dates associated with them. When you are buying from the store, take a few minutes to look at the expiration date and pick the product with the longest shelf life. If you are purchasing online, you lose some control as you cannot look at the products and see what the expiration dates are. Instead, I recommend using the comment field when you check out.  Tell them that you want products with an expiration date of at least 1 year out or have them contact you if that is unavailable. At least this way you know what you are getting before it ships.

3. How Much to Purchase: Only purchase the amount that you can use before it expires. Take some time to crunch some numbers to find out how much you can use in a year. Even if you can save money by buying the larger container, it may expire before you can use it all – this will cost you more money in the long run!

4. What is the Withdrawal Time: Knowing the withdrawal time for each medicine or vaccine you use is critical! The withdrawal time is the amount of time needed to assure that any drug residues are no longer present in the animal. If you accidentally give your meat project animal a medicine with a 30 day withdrawal time, but the show and auction are in only 14 days; you no longer can sell the animal for slaughter. One of the easiest ways to ensure that this doesn’t accidentally happen is to keep good records (of what the withdrawal time is for each specific product) in a reference list in the same place where you store the products.

5. How should it be Stored: All medicine and vaccines should be stored in a clean and secure place where no children or animals can easily get to. To figure out where the proper storage location is for specific products, read the label guidelines. If you store products improperly, their effectiveness is reduced greatly; and once again, you wasted your hard earned money. If you find that you have a lot of products that need refrigerating, but the kitchen fridge just isn’t ideal, look for a small fridge- like the kind college students use in their dorm rooms. These fridges are usually a dime a dozen at garage sales after students move out – just keep your eyes open and plan ahead. However, if you do get a small fridge for the barn, make sure to use at least the same level of hygiene and cleanliness as you do in your kitchen fridge – but even cleaner than that is best!

6. How is it Administered: When you purchase new medicines or vaccines, make sure to read the label thoroughly to make sure that you understand how the product is administered. If you don’t fully understand what the directions are telling you to do, make sure to ask your veterinarian and they will be able to walk you through it. Plus, this also will ensure that you get all of the supplies needed while you are at the store instead of having to make another trip later.

7. What Type of Supplies do I Need for this Product: There is a wide variety of supplies that you may need to purchase to help administer the medicine or vaccine. Take the time to read the product labels to first determine how the product is administered and then select the appropriate supplies needed. Some of the typical administration supplies that you may need are needles, syringes, and/or balling guns.

8. How to Dispose Sharps: Sharps include anything that has the ability to cut or puncture, including needles, syringes, scalpels, blades, and broken lab glass, as well as others. All sharps should be collected using a sharps container. Sharps containers are relatively inexpensive and can even be purchased online or at a local pharmacy. Every state has their own laws concerning sharps disposal; but you can access information for your own state by visiting www.SafeNeedleDisposal.org/resslaws.html

9. How to Dispose of Empty Containers or Unused Product: Whenever you have containers that held medicines or vaccines or containers with expired products, make sure you dispose of them properly. Never dump any extra or expired medicine or vaccines into the ground, drains, or toilets because this allows these products to contaminate the environment and negatively impact wildlife. Instead, use an empty bucket with a lid for collection, and once that is full take it to a sanitary landfill where they can properly dispose of it.

10. How Should I Keep Track of Which Animals Get What: The best way is to set up a good system of record keeping. There are many, many ways that can be used to keep records, but find the one that works best for your situation. The key is to complete the information within a couple hours after administration so that you don’t accidentally forget. A good practice is to complete the book work after you put the supplies away. Make sure to include the animal’s identification, the date, the medicine, the dose, and the withdrawal time. This will make it much easier for you in the long run, and your veterinarian will love being able to easily access this information on their next visit!