It is important to inject cattle and sheep correctly to avoid needle stick injuries and infections. 

Reducing infection means healthier livestock, more money from the abattoirs, equating to better profit.

Before you begin, check this list to make sure you have the right equipment and resources.


What is needed:

1. Pre-vaccination checklist; vaccine, cool bag, injection equipment (injector, needles, needle guard and stericaps) sharps box, medicine book, animal handling equipment, staff and other checks/treatment plan.

2. Read the details supplied with the injectable to confirm the dose size and whether you are performing a subcutaneous, intra-muscular or intradermal injection. Ensure you have enough doses for the number of animals to be treated.

3. Keep the vaccine at the correct temperature.

4. Depending on the number of animals chose a disposable or multi-dose injector.

5. Use a plastic hub needle for a single-dose and metal hub needle for multi-dose. Ensure you are using the correct size (length and gauge) for the species and the application. 

6. Needle protection system. Consider using a system such as Sterimatic to help protect you from needle-stick injuries and to reduce infection and abscesses on your livestock.

How to give the injection

Animation of the injection method

7. For a subcutaneous injection (under the skin) grab a fold of skin in the neck area about 50mm behind and below the ear or behind the shoulder and inject into the “tent” of skin.


Subcutaneous injection


Subcutaneous injection

For an intramuscular injection insert the needle at 90 degrees into the neck about 50mm behind and below the ear or into the rump. Take care to avoid veins or the spinal column.


Intramuscular injection

8. During vaccination regularly check to ensure the dose has not changed on the injector. This can occur by accidentally knocking the dose wheel and can cause ineffective under-dosing or costly over-dosing.

9. When finished, safely dispose of all items in accordance with regulations or clean and sterilise, including re-lubricating the syringe if you intend to re-use items.

10. Record all treatments.

11. Consider where you will handle your livestock and use a suitable handling system. This should minimise their stress and enable you to safely and effectively administer the doses.

12. Ensure enough staff are available.

13. While your livestock are in a handling system, are there any other checks or treatments (for example, drenching) that can be done to save you time and reduce their stress?

For more information

Watch our How to inject sheep” video, “How to inject cattle video” and our “Pre vaccination checklist” video 

Visit the Sterimatic website