Protect Your Investment by Protecting Your Vaccines



Vaccination time is around the corner—is your refrigerator ready?

(Source: Wendy R. Flatt, MU Extension Livestock Specialist)*

Producers know that springtime brings calves and breeding time; however, what most producers don’t think about is “How’s the refrigerator working?” Many producers think that if they hear the motor running, the refrigerator is working fine and there is no need to worry. Think again! A case study conducted by Arkansas researchers dispelled the myth that “if the motor is running, everything is fine.” The refrigerator that stores all those animal health products is usually a very overlooked piece of equipment that is just as important as any other tool on a farm, maybe more so.

Refrigeration is required for most animal health products (antibiotics, pharmaceuticals, biological, vaccines, etc.) and they have very rigid storage temperature requirements. The temperature range for many animal health products is between 35 to 45 degrees. So what happens to those animal health products when the temperatures goes above or below that? They become much less effective. For instance, when the refrigerator goes below 35 degrees, this can have just as a negative effect on the animal health products as the refrigerator going above 45 degrees because the antigen can separate from the adjuvant, making it less effective.

In an Arkansas study of 191 refrigerators, 76% were owned by producers, 18% were owned by retail stores and 6% were owned by veterinary clinics. Of the 1,800 animal health products in producer’s refrigerators 12% were expired and 29% were opened. ANY expired animal health products need to be disposed of properly, and immediately. Expiration dates are put on the label for a reason. Modified live vaccine products will remain effective for approximately one hour after it is opened. Killed vaccines last 10 days when refrigerated, —after the 10 days is up—dispose of properly.

The 191 refrigerators across AR had "WatchDog" data loggers placed inside them which recorded refrigerator temperature every 10 minutes, over a 48 hour period. The refrigerators were listed as:

  • ≤ 5 years old (22%) 
  • 6 to 10 years old (35.1%) 
  • 11 to 15 years old (22.5%) 
  • > 15 years old (20.4%)

Of the 191 refrigerators only 51 (26.7%) recorded the appropriate temperatures of 35 to 45 degree range > 95% of the time for 48 hours. To illustrate the situation, 45 refrigerators (23.6%) recorded temperatures between 35 and 45 degrees F <5% of the time; meaning that more than 76% of the refrigerators tested were unacceptable for storing animal health products! Wow, that will make you check your refrigerator!

Some simple things can be done to make sure your refrigerator is working properly and your animal health products are being stored properly:

  • Put a temperature gauge in the refrigerator and monitor the temperature. Just because the refrigerator is set to a particular temperature setting doesn’t mean that is the actual temperature.
  • Clean the refrigerator coils in the back. Dusty coils can cause the unit to work harder to cool the interior and contents inside the refrigerator and can increase energy demand by 6%! A good shop vac can clean the coils!
  • The drip pan located beneath the refrigerator, should be cleaned regularly. Food or dirt particles can clog the drain.
  • The "seal" or gasket, which keeps the cold air in and the warm air out needs to be checked. Use the paper test to see what kind of condition the gasket is in. Place a piece of paper between the rubber seal and the wall of the refrigerator. It should not slide. If it does, the gasket needs to be replaced.
  • Consider the location of your refrigerator. Don’t stick it in an extremely hot area or in direct sunlight (especially during the summer).

The refrigerator needs to be considered a necessary piece of equipment and, as such, a properly operating one is likely to save producers money in the long run. 

Read the entire article by Ms. Flatt here.

* Used with permission.

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