Pfizer offers online assessment tool
Antibiotic residues—whether in milk or meat—are not something to mess with. Not only do they affect consumer confidence, they threaten producers’ ability to operate.
Key to minimizing the risk of residues is working with a veterinarian who is actively involved in setting up disease identification and treatment protocols. To that end, Pfizer Animal Health has developed an online tool that allows veterinarians and producers to assess how much risk a dairy has of residues based on current practices.
The tool’s list of 10 questions was based on U.S. Food and Drug Administration findings from dairies that were investigated because of beef carcass residue violations.
"Two things really jump out from those assessments," says veterinarian Mike Lormore, director of dairy technical services for Pfizer. "In the overwhelming majority of residue investigations, either no veterinarian is involved in the treatment decisions or producers don’t keep adequate treatment records. In fact, in half of all cases, both of these are true."
The online tool weights the answers, depending on how a dairy implements antibiotic treatments, to assess the level of risk. For example, more weight is given to written treatment protocols that are reviewed every six months by both the veterinarian and producer. "It’s critical that protocols be reviewed on a regular basis, because there is a lot of turnover on dairies," Lormore says.
It’s just as important that protocols are reviewed with employees every six months as well. "Over time, there is a lot of procedural drift. If employees aren’t retrained on the protocols with the veterinarian involved, they start doing different things," Lormore says.
Training employees to identify specific diseases is essential. "When we review records, we often see the reason for treatment as ‘sick’ or ‘fever.’ How do you treat an animal with such a general diagnosis?" Lormore asks. "If she is diagnosed with metritis, you can use specific protocols."
In sum, Lormore says, the keys to a successful residue avoidance program are working with your veterinarian, developing disease identification and treatment protocols, training and retraining employees to execute these, and maintaining excellent records.