Come August, dairy producers and calf raisers will no longer be able to buy milk replacers with Neomycin-Terramycin in the tried-and-true 2:1 ratio formulation.
It's been a long time coming.
As far back as 2003, the Food and Drug Administration said the 2:1 ratio may not be marketed because it lacks "substantial evidence of effectiveness.” But the agency gave the industry time to respond, issuing its final ruling disallowing the 2:1 ratio in August 2009. It then gave feed companies another year to clear inventories.
Whether this is a big deal to you depends, say nutritionists and veterinarians. Some 55% to 65% of milk replacers currently contain the 2:1 ratio of Neo-Terramycin.
"Most dairy producers who feed these medicated milk replacers are doing so as a preventive measure against scours,” says Tom Earleywine, director of nutritional services for Land O'Lakes Animal Milk Products.
"In our research comparing medicated and nonmedicated milk replacers, we have not seen a consistent, significant advantage to adding medication, especially when calves are fed a higher plane of nutrition,” he says.
A low-dose, 1:1 ratio of Neo-Terramycin will still be available. For continuous feeding, the total amount of the drug combo fed cannot exceed 0.05 to 0.1 mg per pound of body weight, Earleywine explains. The effectiveness of this dosage level will likely be suspect because the inclusion rates might not be enough to fight back infections.
"It looks like there will not be products that can be fed on a continuous basis that will significantly reduce either intensity or duration of scours,” says Sam Leadley, a veterinarian and calf expert who works with Attica Veterinary Associates in New York.
For disease treatment, 10 mg/lb. of body weight can be fed daily, but only for seven to 14 days in calves up to 250 lb. Companies might opt to not even offer these higher dosages due to drug residue liability issues. If they do, it might only be as an "add pack” that is added to milk replacer for the first two weeks of life.
What all this means is that calf raisers who have relied on medicated milk replacer will have to crank up management to ensure that calves are well-fed and protected from exposure to bacteria. Some steps to take:
- Ensure newborn calves receive 4 qt. of colostrum as soon as possible.
- Keep newborn calves away from adult cow manure.
- Seasonally adjust milk replacer feeding rates to ensure calves get adequate nutrition.
- Monitor the bacteria levels in colostrum and milk replacer through sampling and lab analysis.
- Keep feeding equipment clean.
- Consider adding a coccidiostat during the last two weeks of feeding milk replacer to help calves weather the stress of weaning. If coccidiosis is kept in check, it will give the calf more reserves to combat Cryptosporidium exposure as well.
Spanish translation - Un sacudón a los sustitutos lácteos
Federal Register notices, scroll to table 5
Calving Ease newsletter article