Blood Transfusion in  Bovines

Blood Transfusion in Bovines

Dr Francois van Niekerk
Humansdorp Veterinary Clinic



  1. Xylazine   1.2 ml  IM
    2. Lignocaine
    3. 23g needle
    4. Nº 10 or 15 scalpel blade and handle
    5. Blood collection needle [4 – 5mm internal diameter, available from Instavet] or trocar & cannula of similar diameter. Large plastic funnel plus plastic tube  [latter optional]
    6. Container for blood [5 litre anthelmintic container ideal]
    7. Anti-coagulant:
    – Na citrate 3.8% solution [add 3.8g to 100ml saline, need 100ml of this solution per litre of blood, thus 19g Na citrate/5litres of blood]
    – Therefore dissolve 20g Na citrate in 500ml saline per 5ℓ blood
    8. Tourniquet for caudal neck

Procedure (Donor)

  1. Raise head of donor with nose tongs and       bend head  slightly to side opposite to that on which you will work.
  2. Coat funnel and tube with anticoagulant
  3. Lignocaine over jugular vein
  4. 1.5cm incision over vein
  5. More lignocaine in s/c tissue over vein
  6. Dissect down onto donor’s jugular [with care!]
  7. Grab vein with rat-tooth forceps and hold firmly
  8. Stab in collection needle/trocar


3.8g Na citrate crystals = a slightly rounded teaspoon



  1. High capacity giving set 10 drops/ml and/or flutter valve
  2. 12g 8cm  IV catheter for administering  blood [available from Lakato]
  3. Lignocaine [optional]
  4. Nº 15 blade [optional]
  5. Adrenalin [for transfusion reactions, optional]


– Extend length of breather pipe on flutter valve to avoid blood running out.
– Ensure flutter valve not perished, can tear on wider spouts of  5ℓ containers.
– Large bore blood giving set can be attached to flutter valve.

Amount of Blood Required (Guideline)

One litre of blood will raise   PCV   about  0.75%, therefore to raise PCV  from  10%  to  15%  need

5%  ÷  0.75%  =  6.66 litres  in a 600kg cow.

Clinical difference between a PCV of  10%  and one of  15% is significant.

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