Healthy calves are the result of a conscious, planned effort that includes a comprehensive health program developed with your veterinarian stressing preventative care through proper management, sanitation, observation and vaccination. The checkoff-funded Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program has developed practices for providing care to your animals in order to meet consumers’ expectations for a safe, wholesome food supply. Here are some tips for handling vaccines:

Safety and storage

  • Try to buy bottle sizes that will be used up quickly.
  • Keep vaccines refrigerated at proper temperature (< 45°F) until use.
  • Check fridge temperature regularly to make sure it’s maintained at 35-45°F.
  • Use an insulated cooler and multiple ice packs for transporting vaccines to work cattle.
  • Avoid direct sunlight because ultraviolet light can impair vaccines’ effectiveness, particularly modified-live virus (MLV) products.

Chute-side handling

  • Keep your insulated container in the shade with the lid on to minimize sunlight and dust contamination.
  • Mix only the amount that will be completely administered within one hour.
  • Make sure syringes are properly labeled or marked to avoid mixing vaccines when refilling because it could inactivate the vaccine or make it less effective.
  • Use different colors of electrical tape to segregate syringes and products.

Vaccine administration and site placement

  • Always read vaccine labels before use and follow directions. Look at expiration dates, injection dose, route of administration, etc.
  • Give injections only in the neck region. Never in the rump, top loin, or back leg
  • Never exceed more than 10 cc per injection site and space injections at least 4 inches apart (hand width).
  • Keep records of each and every time an animal is treated or processed.

To learn more about vaccine handling, watch the BQA training video at or download the BQA On-Farm Training manual