Source: Betsy Karle, University of California Cooperative Extension
The landscape of pharmaceutical use on dairies is changing. Federal regulation that will require veterinary oversight for feeds, including milk replacer, containing medically important antibiotics (those that are also used in human medicine) will be fully implemented by January 1, 2017.
Locally, the California Legislature is actively pursuing regulation that will eliminate over the counter (OTC) use of medically important antibiotics. What can you do now to prepare for these inevitable changes?
• Evaluate any non-prescription antibiotic use with your veterinarian. Are you using these products exactly as indicated on the label? If not, they are being used “off-label” and need a prescription label specifying the appropriate use and withdrawal.
• Evaluate management practices, especially in calves, fresh cows and the hospital pen. Are there changes that could be made to improve conditions that would have positive effects on animal health?
• Ensure accurate diagnoses. Be sure that anyone responsible for diagnosing animals has proper training and diagnostic tools.
• Update and implement treatment protocols. Ensure optimal compliance with protocols by posting them in a visible and convenient location in the native language of those responsible for administering the treatment.
• Communicate with employees and commit to ongoing training about the importance of using medicines according to the label.
• Assess your record keeping system. Is it easy to record information and access records of previous treatments? Ceftiofur, penicillin, and sulfa drugs in dairy animals continue to top the tissue residue list and are being watched closely.
We know that the issue of antibiotic use in food animal production isn’t going away and need to be prepared to use pharmaceuticals differently than we have in the past. Start the conversation with your veterinarian now about how to define new strategies and implement new procedures, and you’ll be ready for changes to come.