How to Prevent Needles Breaking Off in Pigs

February 13, 2018

In spite of the best preventative measures, broken needles can happen. Neogen’s Ideal D3 Detectable Needles have the highest detection rate of any type of needle found in packing and processing plants. When needles break, it is important that packers are able to detect them. This Pork Avenue lesson features Drs. Seth Krantz and Sarah Probst Miller and covers some tips on proper Detectable Needle Use.

Video Transcript

Dr. Sarah: Hello and welcome to today's Take 5 on detectable needle use sponsored by Neogen.

As an industry, we must work together to ensure that needles don't end up in food. Prevention and detection are important parts of this commitment.

Injections are necessary for treatment administration to sick pigs or for vaccinations to help prevent certain diseases. In spite of the best preventative measures, broken needles can happen, lost needles can happen, and when they happen it is important that packers are able to detect them.

Currently, no metal detecting devices pick up needles in live hogs, but detectable needles are found up to 100 percent of the time in packing and processing plants.

This lesson covers some tips on proper detectable needle use.

I'd like to introduce you to a friend and colleague of mine Dr. Seth Krantz. Dr. Krantz is a pig vet for Tosh Pork. He manages the health for over thirty thousand sows-worth of production in his system.

Dr. Sarah: Well, hi, Dr. Krantz!

Dr. Seth: Hi, Dr. Sarah! Happy to help.

You know I sure don't want used needles in the pork that I eat.

Dr. Sarah: Me neither.

Dr. Seth: So let's show some of our best practices on farm to keep that from happening.

Dr. Sarah: Wonderful! Well let's get started.

Step 1.

When treating or vaccinating, choose a detectable needle.

Dr. Seth: You'll know it's a detectable needle if it's the right color.

Dr. Sarah: Detectable needles are red.

The red one is the right one!

Step 2.

Make sure the needle is the right size for the age of the pig you are injecting.

Baby pigs need an 18 to 20 gauge needle that is 5/8 to 1/2 inch long.

Dr. Seth: You know, it's also important to use detectable needles even in our smallest animals. There have been some recent reports of needles being found in animals at harvest even though those needles were used during the nursery or farrowing phase.

Dr. Sarah: Yeah, that's important!

And nursery pigs need a 16- to 18-gauge needle that is 3/4 to 5/8 inch long.

Whereas, finisher hogs need a 16-gauge 1-inch needle.

Dr. Seth: So, Dr. Sarah, here we are in a pen of gestating sows and we're going to vaccinate these animals and you know even though needle breakage is rare it most commonly would occur in sows.

When we're vaccinating or treating sows we need to make sure we're using a 14- to 16-gauge needle and make sure it's an inch and a half long so that'll get to the muscle.

Dr. Sarah: Nice tips, Dr. Seth!

Step 3.

Put the needle on the syringe.

Dr. Seth: To put a needle on a syringe, first unscrew the cap and then, leaving the cap over the sharp end of the needle, screw the needle onto the syringe like so.

You want to keep this part of the needle to help you change the needle later according to your vet's instructions.

And, you know, each farm may have a different protocol for when to change needles. For example, some farms might change needles between each litter or between each pen or they might not even change the needle until they change the vaccine bottle. Always make sure you're following your vet's instructions depending on the health protocol at the farm you're working on.

On this syringe, we're also going to attach the safety to better protect me from injecting myself.

Dr. Sarah: Good thinking, Seth!

Now if you do inject yourself contact your physician and bring the product sheet with you to the doctor.

Dr. Seth: Yes, ma'am.

Dr. Sarah: Step 4.

Properly link the syringe to the medicine our vaccine. How this step occurs depends on what you are giving.

Dr. Seth: In this example, we're going to be vaccinating pigs utilizing a Prima Tech Bottle Mount Vaccinator. The first thing we want to do when using this vaccinator is select the appropriate shield size that matches our bottle. We screw that on to the syringe like so and then place our vaccine bottle onto the syringe. We can turn the dial to adjust the dose by the label's directions.

In this last example, we're going to be pulling medication from a bottle utilizing a disposable needle and syringe. We always want to make sure we're using a brand new needle before we puncture the bottle so as not to introduce any bacteria and then we're ready to vaccinate some pigs.

Dr. Sarah: Step 5.

Properly restrain the pig being injected.

Dr. Seth: So for different sized pigs we need to restrain them differently.

For our smallest animals weaned pigs and younger, we can actually pick them up and inject them easily.

For older grower finisher pigs using a sort board and crowding them is our best way to inject.

For our largest animals, like sows and boars, we may have those animals in a stall or we can approach them gently in a pen to apply the injections. We always want to make sure that we're marking them so we know which animals were treated or vaccinated.

Dr. Sarah: Step 6.

Inject the pig.

Dr. Seth: Intramuscular injections are the most common injections we use in pigs for both treatments and vaccinations. When injecting any sized pig, we always want to inject in the muscle behind the ear in the neck. We always want to avoid injections in the ham or the loin unless directed so by your veterinarian.

Dr. Sarah: The angle matters. Notice how in these sows, we are injecting like so, to properly hit that muscle. Whereas in these weaned pigs, we are injecting at this angle.

Step 7.

Change the needle when appropriate to maintain cleanliness and sharpness.

Dr. Seth: Never straighten or reuse the bent needle. We always want to discard and replace it. In addition, we want to avoid using needles with burrs or needles that are dirty. These needles can increase the risk of infection or abscesses.

We always didn't want to use clean, sharp needles to inject our pigs.

Dr. Sarah: We don't want abscesses.

Step 8.

Take measures to retrieve any dropped needles.

Dr. Seth: On rare occasions packers have found needles lodged in the mouth, throat and feet of pigs and although these events have been rare, it's assumed that these were from needles that were dropped in the pen. When we're vaccinating or treating pigs. We always want to make sure we're counting our needles in and out to make sure we're not leaving any behind.

Dr. Sarah: Step 9.

If the needle breaks off in a follow your farm's protocol to first work to retrieve the needle and, if not retrievable, to identify the pig.

Dr. Seth: Even though uncommon, when broken needles occur, they typically occur in larger animals like sows.

In this example this sow had a broken needle the employee did a great job of notifying their supervisor and clearly marking this animal so everyone knows she has a broken needle. Now we will snare and tag this animal. These are special tags that identify she has a broken needle in her. When the sow is no longer productive we will euthanize her humanely here on the farm to avoid marketing an animal that has a broken needle.

Dr. Sarah: On your farm it may be possible to send the sow to market and in this case good communication with your packer is critical. Follow your farm's protocol.

Step 10.

Properly dispose of used needles in a sharps container or a hard plastic container.

Dr. Seth: That's right! We don't want to leave used needles laying around on shelves or in the barn. All needles need to exit the barn and be disposed of properly.

Dr. Sarah: I think that's it well thanks for your help, Dr. Seth.

Dr. Seth: No problem, Dr. Sarah. Anytime!

Dr. Sarah: Prevention and detection of broken needles is a part of our commitment to the consumer.

And remember, you can only detect if the needles are detectable.

The red one. The right one.


Category: Tech Tips, Swine, Veterinary, Animal Health, Veterinary Instruments