MEAT GOAT QUALITY ASSURANCE THROUGH PROPER INJECTION SITES

By: ROBERT SPENCER

SMALL FARMS SPECIALIST
ALABAMA A&M UNIVERSITY

The goat industry is still in its “developmental” stage and faces many challenges similar to those faced by the cattle industry in the past. As a result of prior food safety “incidents” concerns have also been raised regarding quality assurance associated with various types of meat. Although the meat goat industry has not experienced such problems, it is not impervious to the potential for similar incidents. In an effort to assist and educate goat producers on issues relevant to food safety and quality assurance USDA’s FSIS has provided funding for Alabama A&M University to implement a program that will address such concerns. The university organizers of this project have designed a program based on the concept of early intervention through producer education. This particular program is known as the Goat Quality Assurance (GQA) program
One aspect of food quality assurance addresses the need to minimize the potential for injection site defects. Cattle producer organizations have experienced the same concerns and implemented quality assurance efforts through the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) and similar programs. In order to alleviate consumer concerns relevant to quality assurance regarding injection site lesions in goat meat Alabama A&M’s GQA project is taking efforts to inform and educate goat produces on preferable injection sites and practices.
In order to insure healthcare practices are correctly followed, the Food Safety Education Program for Goat Producers at Alabama A&M University recommends developing a working relationship with a local veterinarian and always consulting with them prior to administering any health care practices.
In the past both cattle and goat producers gave most injections to livestock in the rear leg, forward of the hip area. Animal science experts and meat processors recognized this as a prime area for various cuts of meat and began recommending producers move the injection sites to the neck area on cattle and near the rib cage, behind the foreleg on goats. Now experts are recommending goat producers give injections in the neck of the goat, the same site as on cattle.
The choice of injection sites depends on what cuts of meat are seen as most valuable to a goat producer. If one chooses the rib cage behind the foreleg as injection site, they run the risk of damaging meat that may be found on a rib or two at that location. If they choose to inject a goat in the neck, they run the risk of ruining an area of potential meat that may be cut up and used for stew meat. Prior to vaccinating or medicating any goat, the goat producer must consult with his processor and determine which cuts (a few ribs with meat or meat on neck) are least valuable and the producers can risk damaging via injections.
The most preferred method of giving injections whether it is goats or cattle when it comes to administering medicines under the skin (subcutaneous) is to use the “tent” method (see diagram below). This method involves pulling up the loose skin in the area of the injection site and holding the syringe and needle parallel to the body and pushing the needle through one layer of skin and into the gathered area, then squirting the medicine into the cavity. Ideally the animal will not struggle and lessen the chance of sticking the animal in the muscle of the rib area or neck where valuable meat can be tainted or bruised. Worst case scenario is to break the needle off into the meat area of the animal and risk compromising the quality of future meat when processed.
As with any farming venture producers must choose their options on minimizing risk and how to lessen waste; goat production for meat is no different. For that reason we are making the following recommendations prior to administering any and all injections in all livestock.
To lessen injection site defects, the injection site zone created for cattle and goats was created. This triangular zone, which is located in the animal's neck (see diagram), begins slightly ahead of the shoulder, and is for all injections: intramuscular (IM) and subcutaneous (SubQ). To make it easier, imagine an intersection resulting from a line drawn from the top of the neck and to the bottom, then from in front of the shoulder to where the head meets the neck.
To insure the best possible meat quality product, follow these guidelines:

• Properly and safely restrain animals.
• Clean the injection site of dirt, mud and manure.
• Keep injection sites several inches apart and switch sides frequently.
• Administer injections only in the triangle zone.
• Never inject into the hindquarters.
• When given a choice of SubQ or IM, go SubQ.
• When administering SubQ injections, use the "tented" technique.
• Always use new needles, never clean and reuse.
• Syringes may be reuse by cleaning and washing with soap, then rinse.
• Use only 18- or 20-ga. Needles (depending upon the thickness of the medicine used).
• Use 1- to 1-1/4-in. needles for IM; 1/2- to ¾-in. needles for SubQ.
• Keep a plentiful supply of needles for differing applications.
• Never use bent, dull, damaged or contaminated needles.
• Use separate syringes for each product; mark syringes.
• Use only approved products.
• Follow product directions and withdrawal timeframes.
• Don't use outdated products.
• Never combine vaccines.

Information for this article was inspired from an article written by Joe Roybal and published in the weekly electronic magazine “Cow Calf Weekly”.

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Clear Creek Farms
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