The Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program, administered by the beef checkoff, has issued an advisory statement regarding the use of pneumatic darts or other remote injection methods in cattle.
BQA Guidelines for the administration of injectable drugs/products to cattle are available in the BQA National Manual and at bqa.org and other places.
According to the statement, there are no BQA guidelines for the administration of injectable drugs/products by the use of pneumatic darts or other similar methods designed to administer injectable products into cattle from a distance.
There are several challenges associated with the use of pneumatic darts or similar technologies for the administration of injectable drugs/products to cattle, including but not limited to the following:
* Accurate assessment of cattle weights is not possible in these situations, leading to inaccurate dosing.
* The volume of many appropriate drug dosages cannot be accommodated with the current dart technology.
* The product delivery can be administered to non-approved injection site(s) resulting in off-label or illegal drug use. This would include the subcutaneous administration of an intramuscular drug or vice versa.
* The potential for significant bruising or collateral injection site lesions is directly in conflict with BQA guidelines and principles. Additionally, accurate individual identification becomes much more challenging, leading to mis-identification, inaccurate withdrawal time assignment, increased potential for illegal residues, and/or managing a group of cattle based on the withdrawal time of a single unidentified animal.
* The needles' potential to penetrate ligaments, joints and other tissues could result in permanent damage to the cattle, raising concerns for animal well-being and additionally, result in ineffective therapy.
* The possibility of needles remaining in the tissue following this type of administration presents an additional risk. Darts that remain attached to the animal for a period of time and subsequently become dislodged in the field or pasture can become a hazard to other livestock or personnel.
* The entire dart can become imbedded in muscle tissue and create a significant BQA issue at the packing plant or at the consumer level if not identified at the packing plant.
According to the BQA statement, the companies manufacturing, selling and promoting these drug delivery devices have "the responsibility and the obligation to develop data to establish efficacy, safety, animal welfare, food safety and other concerns as compared to current BQA approved methods of drug/product administration."
Until such time as this critical data becomes available these methods do not meet BQA injectable product administration guidelines, the statement concluded.
The full BQA statement can be found at www.bqa.org/CMDocs/bqa/BQA_Advisory_Statement_on_the_Use_of_Pneumatic_Dart_Guns.pdf.
In response, Pneu-Dart Inc. congratulated BQA in launching an awareness campaign on better bovine health. Pneu-Dart acknowledged that some of the stated concerns are valid and said the company believes that through continued awareness and education, these issues can be successfully addressed.
Through customer feedback, case studies and ongoing dialogue with ranchers, veterinarians and professionals, Pneu-Dart has "seen and learned first-hand the incredible number of benefits that result from using remote drug delivery systems correctly. From cow/calf to stocker cattle operations, and free-range to feedyards, the use of remote drug delivery has greatly reduced the mortality rate of cattle, increased profitability and has promoted the value of medicating animals in need of treatment."
As the use of remote drug delivery continues to grow, Pneu-Dart said it is committed to the evolution of its product line. Case in point: within the next few months, 100% of all Pneu-Dart darts will be equipped with the patent-pending Slo-Inject technology. This engineered solution will reduce the rate of injection, thereby virtually eliminating the potential for unintentional subcutaneous versus intramuscular injections and vise-versa.
Realizing more work is needed, Pneu-Dart reported that it has made a commitment to the industry and is finalizing a certified online educational program for all users. This online educational platform will be launching within the next few months.
In conjunction with the online educational platform, we have scheduled a one-hour prime time television program, which will air Dec. 14 on RFD-TV.
Complementing the need for science to support the technology, Pneu-Dart said it will be extending invitations to accredited institutions to participate in a fully funded program documenting reduced stress levels and the efficacy of drugs delivered remotely. We invite all members of the beef industry who embrace the need for Remote Drug Delivery education to contribute to our efforts, and voice their support for certification.
Founded in 1967, Pneu-Dart offers remote drug delivery systems designed to capture or medicate without harming the animal.