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Ohio State University Extension


Safe Handling of Livestock Medications

Agricultural Tailgate Safety Training for Operators and Supervisors
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Agricultural Safety and Health Program

Objective: To demonstrate how to handle and store livestock medications.

Trainer’s Note

The livestock producer needs to handle needles and medicines. This can be dangerous. An employee responsible for administering medication might assist with this demonstration. Highlight the proper usage and disposal of needles. Review the true or false quiz.


Livestock medicines, vaccines, syringes, and needles should be stored in a clean, dry, frost-free, locked and clearly labeled cabinet. Medicines requiring refrigeration should be stored away from food in a child proof area. Store medicines in the original container. Make sure the labeling is clear and legible for all who use the medicines. Live vaccines are hazardous and can potentially cause disease. Purchase vaccines on an “as needed” basis. Disposal should comply with infectious waste requirements. Check with the local waste disposal management office.

EPA regulations require that sharp objects be disposed of in sturdy plastic containers such as a laundry detergent bottle, a 2-liter soda container or a coffee can with a heavily taped plastic lid. Check for additional local regulations.

Storing uncapped or recapping used sharps is risky. Recapping should be avoided if at all possible, and should never be done by hand. Drop used needles or syringes directly into the disposal container without recapping them. The best way to deal with needle stick injuries is to avoid them.

There are four main concerns with needle stick injuries: organisms from the animal’s skin, organisms from needle aspirates (blood, lymph, etc.), modified live vaccines, as well as the physical trauma of the stick. Actual injection of vaccines, antimicrobials, chemotherapeutics, euthanasia solutions, and anesthetics also pose potential risks, ranging from local irritation to reactions that affect the entire body.

If someone is stuck by a needle, clean the wound with soap and water and then cover it with a bandage.  Some individuals may have a localized reaction to the vaccine or its carriers. The exposed area should be washed immediately and observed for an inflammatory reaction. See a physician if pain or swelling develops. Anyone routinely giving injections should have a current tetanus immunization.

Proper animal constraint is also important. Animals that are poorly restrained endanger the person treating the animal, along with anyone else who may be assisting.

When Working with Animal Health Care Medicines

  • Store all livestock medical supplies in a locked cabinet.
  • Store medicines away from food and children.
  • Be careful not to stick yourself or anyone else when using a needle.
  • Discard all used needles and syringes in an approved method.
  • Seek medical attention if having an adverse reaction to a needle stick.
  • Never reuse medical supplies. It may spread disease.
  • Wash hands with hot water and a disinfectant when finished with health tasks.
  • Purchase drugs only as needed.

Review The Following Points

  • Keep all livestock medications stored in locked cabinet.
  • Never store medicines with food, and wash hands immediately after completing health task.
  • Reusing medical supplies can spread disease.
  • Seek medical attention if having an adverse reaction to a needle stick.


Weese, J.S., & Jack, D.C. (2008). Needlestick injuries in veterinary medicine. The Canadian Veterinary Journal, 49(8): 780-784.

About These Modules

The Ag Tailgate Training Series was developed by members of the Agricultural Safety and Health Program in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Revised by Dee Jepsen, State Agricultural Safety Leader, with editing assistance by Lisa Pfeifer, Logan Heiby, and Cora Carter.

True or False Answer Key

  1. F
  2. T
  3. T
  4. T
  5. T

Quiz: Safe Use of Livestock Medications



True or False?    

1. It is a good idea to store some livestock medical supplies with food.

2. If you are stuck by a needle, you do not need to see a physician immediately.

3. Wash hands in hot, soapy water after completing health care tasks.

4. Live vaccines are considered hazardous.

5. Lock all livestock medical supplies in a cabinet away from children.     

Originally posted Sep 3, 2019.