Livestock

Subcutaneous Injections

Subcutaneous injections are made under the skin, using a short needle and are usually used for vaccines, vitamin injections and wormers.

Subcutaneous InjectingSubcutaneous injections are made under the skin but short of the muscle.
Image: Brookside Press

Before starting, READ the data sheet for the medicine carefully. It may recommend the size of needle, the injection site i.e. neck and the maximum amount of medicine to be injected at any single injection site. The data sheet also gives important information about dosage, withdrawal periods, storage and disposal.

Where practicable, the injection site should be clipped free of hair / wool and the skin cleaned with spirit or antiseptic.

Always make sure that the animal is correctly restrained, both for your safety and to ensure that the injection is made correctly.

  • Care should be taken to expel air bubbles from the barrel of the syringe.
  • Pinch a fold of skin between your thumb and forefinger to form a “tent”
  • Insert the needle into the middle of the “tent”. Take care not to enter the muscle or to stick the needle right through the skin and out the other side.
  • Draw back the piston to check that you haven’t hit a blood vessel. If you get blood, withdraw the needle and try again. (This step isn’t really practical if you are using a multi-injection gun).
  • Depress the piston slowly to inject the medicine, pressing it all the way down.
  • Injecting with the needle pointing down reduces the risk of any medicine leaking out of the needle hole.
  • Massage the injected area to aid the dispersal of the drug
  • Dispose of the syringe and needle in a sharps container.

Sheep and goats

Preferred injection sites for subcutaneous injections are:

  • Just behind the elbow
  • In the triangular area in front of the shoulders, between the top and bottom of the shoulder blade and the corner of the jaw
  • Inside the hind leg

Cattle

Preferred injection sites for subcutaneous injections are:

  • Loose skin on the side of the neck or in front of the shoulder

Never inject on the rump or thigh as this can damage the meat.

Pigs

Preferred injection sites for subcutaneous injections are:

  • Loose skin in the hollow 25-75mm behind and level with the base of the ear
  • In piglets, inside the thigh or behind the shoulder can be used.
Rosemary Champion

About Rosemary Champion

Rosemary lives on a 12 acre smallholding in Angus, in the east of Scotland, where she keeps Ryeland Sheep, Shetland cattle and assorted poultry. She was destined to be a smallholder from an early age.

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