Less­en­ing the use of an­tibi­otics in a cow-calf op­er­a­tion


Pre­vent­ing ill­ness is as im­por­tant as treat­ment when it comes to herd health.

New an­timi­cro­bial reg­u­la­tions have come into ef­fect to en­cour­age pru­dent use of an­tibi­otics in an­i­mal agri­cul­ture. Re­duc­ing our use of an­tibi­otics is a best prac­tice and can be achieved through a va­ri­ety of ways.

Good nu­tri­tion - The cor­ner­stone of herd health is a good nu­tri­tion pro­gram. An­a­lyz­ing your feed and uti­liz­ing the ser­vices of a nu­tri­tion­ist will en­sure the needs of your cat­tle are met and their im­mune sys­tems are fully func­tional. Live­stock and Feed Ex­ten­sion Spe­cial­ists with the Saskatchew­an Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture can as­sist with in­ter­pre­ta­tion of feed test re­sults and ra­tion for­mu­la­tion. Wa­ter qual­ity should also be mea­sured as it can af­fect ab­sorp­tion of im­por­tant nu­tri­ents.

Pre­bi­otics and Pro­bi­otics - A healthy ru­men is im­por­tant for good di­ges­tion, per­for­mance and im­mune func­tion. Pre­bi­otics and pro­bi­otics are prod­ucts that work to im­prove di­ges­tive func­tion. Pro­bi­otics in­tro­duce ben­e­fi­cial mi­crobes, and pre­bi­otics pro­vide food for them.

Vac­ci­na­tion Pro­to­cols - Out­breaks of many com­mon diseases can be pre­vented or con­trolled through the use of vac­cines. Vac­ci­na­tions for black­leg, in­fec­tious bovine rhino­tra­cheitis (IBR), bovine vi­ral di­ar­rhea (BVD), bovine res­pi­ra­tory dis­ease (BRD), scours, etc. are im­por­tant tools that may di­rectly re­duce the re­quire­ment for an­tibi­otic use in vac­ci­nated ver­sus non­va­c­ci­nated cat­tle. Work with your vet­eri­nar­ian to de­velop a vac­ci­na­tion pro­to­col for your herd.

Calv­ing Man­age­ment - New­born calves have a four to six-hour win­dow whereby the cow’s colostrum is most ef­fec­tive. If you sus­pect a new­born calf has not re­ceived much or any colostrum dur­ing this time, then in­ter­vene. It is best if colostrum can be ob­tained from the cow, as the dam will pro­vide an­ti­bod­ies com­mon to the bac­te­ria al­ready pre­sent in your herd, but pur­chased colostrum is a good sub­sti­tute. Re­place­ment colostrum must have 100 grams of IGG; lower lev­els are for sup­ple­men­tal pur­poses only. Clean the stom­ach tube well be­tween uses.

Biose­cu­rity - Prac­tic­ing good biose­cu­rity aims to pre­vent the in­tro­duc­tion of diseases not al­ready pre­sent in your herd and re­strict the spread of out­breaks when they do oc­cur. Iso­late an­i­mals that are sick and re­quire treat­ment, as well as any an­i­mals that are brought into the herd. Vis­i­tors should wear clean cloth­ing and footwear should be dis­in­fected. Fund­ing through the Cana­dian Agri­cul­tural Part­ner­ship (CAP) pro­gram is avail­able to as­sist pro­duc­ers with the pur­chase of equip­ment or ma­te­ri­als to as­sist with biose­cu­rity. Con­tact your lo­cal Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture Re­gional Of­fice for more in­for­ma­tion.

Vet­eri­nar­ian-client­pa­tient-re­la­tion­ship - As stated in the Cana­dian Code of Prac­tice for the Care and Han­dling of

Beef Cat­tle, pro­duc­ers should es­tab­lish an on­go­ing work­ing re­la­tion­ship (VCPR) with a li­censed prac­tic­ing vet­eri­nar­ian and de­velop a strat­egy for dis­ease pre­ven­tion and herd health. The VCPR is re­quired to pur­chase an­timi­cro­bials, but this re­la­tion­ship is of much greater ben­e­fit than just ac­cess to med­i­ca­tions.

Changes to an­timi­cro­bial reg­u­la­tion in Canada should not neg­a­tively im­pact the over­all health and pro­duc­tiv­ity of our beef in­dus­try. Im­ple­ment­ing strate­gies such as these are help­ful in main­tain­ing good health and re­duc­ing the re­quire­ment to use an­tibi­otics. En­rolling in pro­grams such as Ver­i­fied Beef Pro­duc­tion Plus can also as­sist pro­duc­ers in adopt­ing these prac­tices.

For more in­for­ma­tion on this or other live­stock re­lated top­ics, con­tact your lo­cal Re­gional Live­stock and Feed Ex­ten­sion Spe­cial­ist, call the Agri­cul­ture Knowl­edge Cen­tre at 1-866-457-2377.

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