“It’s fast, quick, easy.”
– ROBYN HARTE, MAFRI
You no longer require a needle to vaccinate a pig.
Manitoba hog producers can now get funding to subsidize the cost of buying needle-less injectors for use in their herds.
The money is avai lable under a federal-provincial Growing Forward food safety program.
An $800,000 fund will provide rebates up to $2,000 for approved needle-less injector equipment. The cost of a unit usually ranges between $4,000 and $4,500.
The offer is open to producers who have completed Canadian Quality Assurance, an on-farm food safety program for swine.
Appl icat ion forms for rebates are available from Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives GO offices.
Food safety is a major reason behind the drive to use needle-free injections in swine herds. Broken needles and lesions at injection sites downgrade the quality of carcasses and even cause them to be rejected.
The risk of finding a broken needle in a piece of meat causes Maple Leaf Meats to regularly warn producers to be careful with injections.
A company spokesperson said Maple Leaf encourages producers to use needle-free injectors.
“It’s not a requirement at the present but we are very supportive of their use,” said Rachel Douglas from company headquarters in Toronto. “We are certainly going to speak to our producers about the advantages.”
Karl Kynoch, Manitoba Pork Council chairman, agreed.
“As far as we’re concerned, if there’s one broken needle in the meat, that’s too many,” Kynoch said. “Anything we can do to reduce that risk, that’s the direction we will head.”
Continuous use of needles also increases the risk of spreading disease, swine specialists say.
Needle-free injection devices have been available for mass human vaccination programs since the 1930s. Compressed gas forces high-pressure streams of fluid through skin and subcutaneous tissue into the bloodstream.
But their use in swine herds is relatively recent. Up to now, needle-syringe injection has been the method of choice.
But that’s starting to change, not just because of food safety but also animal welfare.
Needle-free injections are much easier on animals than the standard method, said Robyn Harte, a MAFRI swine specialist.
“Our main concern is reducing the stress and reducing the trauma,” said Harte.
“You can go in-out, in-out, in-out. It’s fast, quick, easy.”
Needle-free technology can also be easier on the user. Harte said she has accidentally injected herself while vaccinating weanlings. She’ll never get mycoplasma now.
Size of equipment and ease of handling were reasons why the technology was slow to catch on at first. The first generation of needle-free injectors was like the Ghostbusters Proton Pack: big and bulky. Harte said equipment now is smaller, lighter and easier to use.
A video on needle-free injector use is available through the Manitoba Pork Council.
The National Centre for Livestock and the Environment at the University of Manitoba is preparing a research project on the use of needle-free injectors in swine herds.
“They are at the moment awaiting some government matching funds in order to proceed with it,” said University of Manitoba animal scientist Laurie Connor. [email protected]