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Eirich: Proper storage of medication critical

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Properly storing vaccinations and medications can be key to ensuring animal health, according to Nebraska’s Beef Quality Assurance director. Rob Eirich told producers during a recent Animal Health Stewardship and Product Care webinar that antimicrobial resistance is real, and producers need to use good antimicrobial stewardship to properly diagnose, treat and dose animals. 

Using the proper method of therapy and the right route of administration is also important, he noted.

“The key is realizing that antimicrobial stewards seek to achieve optimal clinical outcomes related to antimicrobial use,” he explained. “Minimize toxicity and other adverse events reduce costs of healthcare for infections and limit the selection for antimicrobial resistant strains.”

Vaccine storage 

“Handling and storage of vaccines and antibiotics is important. Don’t leave it on the floorboard of the pickup or in the dash,” Eirich explained to producers. 

Performing a test of his own, Eirich used a thermometer to determine the temperature in his pickup in December. 

“It was 24-degrees Fahrenheit in the cab, and an hour later, it was 84 degrees on the dash, with the heater running. The temperature outside was 22 degrees,” he said.

Eirich notes that from studying the labels of various vaccinations, the storage temperature can vary from under 68 degrees to 86 degrees Fahrenheit for non-refrigerated medications. 

“I have some concern about taking the product out in the summer and storing it in a saddle bag or putting it in our pocket and riding out on the range,” he said. “I think it could easily get outside its proper storage temperature in that situation.”

Eirich uses Draxxin as an example. The label indicates Draxxin should be stored at less than 77 degrees Fahrenheit. 

“When we look at what vaccinations like Draxxin cost, we would want to make sure and store it properly, so it is effective when we use it to treat respiratory infections,” he explained. 

Other antibiotics have varying storage temperatures. For example, Bio-mycin has a storage range of 59 to 77 degrees, and Excede is 68 to 77 degrees. 

“Consider the cold side, as well as the top side,” he stated. 

Eirich said, “We need to look at how we are storing our vaccines. Is the temperature staying consistent, and is it being stored at the correct temperature?” 

Check the fridge

Typically, vaccinations that need to be refrigerated should be stored at temperatures between 35- and 45-degrees Fahrenheit. 

“Don’t be afraid to use a thermometer to make sure medications are stored at the proper temperature,” he recommended. 

A thermometer will indicate if the refrigerator is staying a consistent temperature or fluctuating. Medicine shouldn’t be stored in the door because opening and closing the door can change the temperature, he said. 

“Store medicine in the central portion of the refrigerator in a cool area where the temperature doesn’t fluctuate as much,” he explained. 

Periodically, stored medications should be checked for expiration and thrown away if they have expired. Unused modified live vaccinations that have been mixed should also be disposed of.

Treating livestock

During treatment, Eirich recommended using some type of a cooler to keep medications at a consistent temperature. 

“Ranchers can purchase medical coolers, or they can create their own,” he said. 

Styrofoam medical coolers that vaccine is shipped to the veterinarian in work well, but a lunchbox can, too, Eirich said.

Other recommendations are to store vaccinations out of direct sunlight and only mix modified live vaccinations less than an hour before they will be used. 

“If we are using a modified live vaccine and a killed vaccine at the same time, don’t mix up the syringes. Putting killed vaccine in a modified live vaccine syringe could leave residue behind and prevent the vaccine from doing its job. Label the syringe with what product is in it,” he said.

Eirich said producers should also buy the size of bottle that is close to the number animals they want to treat. 

“Some medicines need to be used within a certain period of time from the first draw,” he explained. 

Use a clean needle

Make sure the proper needle is used for the vaccination given and the size of animal. A 16- to 18-gauge needle is standard, but if the antibiotic is really thick, a 14-gauge needle may work better. 

“As the medicine gets thicker, it is tougher to get it through a smaller gauge needle,” he explained. 

For subcutaneous injections, a one-half to three-quarter inch long needle is recommended, and for intramuscular injections, three-quarters to one inch is the recommendation.

Needles should be cleaned out with hot water to eliminate residue. Needles and syringes should not be cleaned with soap because, if any soap residue is left, it can kill modified live vaccine.

Eirich also recommended changing needles often. 

“We should never put a used needle back into a bottle of medicine,” he explained. “After each animal is vaccinated, it leaves residue behind on the needle.” 

“If we change the needle after every 15 head, the risk of contamination is just in those 15 head, not every animal vaccinated after we stuck the needle back into the bottle,” he explained.


Eirich also shares information about an app producers can get on their phone. 

“The Compendium of Veterinary Products” is available from the Google Play Store. The app allows producers to bring up products they can use on their phone, sort it by species and read about storage information and how to use each product correctly.

Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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