Costs of treating sick cattle have always been a concern for producers. Whether they doctor cattle by horseback, by four-wheeler, or on foot, the process can prove time-consuming and dangerous. At the Noble Research Institute Pasture Demonstration Farm, we have been using a relatively new implant device from Ballistic Technologies. It is an air gun that can shoot an antibiotic bullet into cattle from fifty feet away.
We started using the gun on the farm eight years ago; since then, we have added one to all our farms. It is a great tool for treating foul foot and early respiratory problems. You can take it with you during feeding time, which allows you to treat an animal that's eating and eliminate having to gather it. Gathering and treating one 1,300-pound animal takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on its location, and using injectable antibiotics and sulfa boluses costs about $13.00. With the gun, we are able to treat that same animal in about 15 minutes, at a cost of about $16.00.
One disadvantage was having limited places to fill the air tank. The tank holds enough compressed air for 200 to 300 shots, so not being able to refill it is not a big deal unless you're treating several animals every day.
I would like to see another kind of antibiotic bullet. Currently there is only one on the market, a Naxcel bullet that works well but limits the number of treatable cases. Vaccines in bullet form are also available, although we have used these on just a few stockers. We feel processing through the chute and using syringes ensures an accurate dosage and proper placement of the injection.
Overall, the gun is a real timesaving device that we find useful.