The FDA ruling that the combination drug of neomycin and oxytetracycline can no longer be used in its current 2:1 dosage in milk replacer will influence the medication options that milk replacer manufacturers offer their customers in the near future.
The change in medicated milk replacer regulations gives calf raisers an opportunity to focus on preventing coccidiosis from day one. Anticoccidials are common in starter feeds offered to calves, yet most calves are not consuming enough starter - and, therefore, adequate levels of the medication - until several weeks of age. This has left a gap in the protection against coccidiosis. Having the anticoccidial in the milk replacer along with the anticoccidial in the grain can effectively 'bridge the gap' for solid coccidiosis control.
Provide coccidiosis medication to calves starting on day one. Once a coccidiosis infection has been diagnosed or clinical symptoms appear, intestinal damage has already been done. A clinical coccidiosis outbreak today is the result of an infection that took place approximately 21 days prior.
Understand that without coccidiosis medication in milk replacer calves are susceptible to disease until they are eating enough starter feed (usually 1 lb. between weeks 4 or 5) to provide an adequate anticoccidial dose. Anticoccidial milk replacer medication effectively 'bridges the gap' between birth and adequate starter intake needed to deliver a full, effective dose.
Keep it simple: use the same medication in the milk replacer and the calf starter feed. Avoid confusion around calves receiving low (or half) doses and alleviate combination approval concerns.
Where post-weaning respiratory disease is a concern, be aware of available combination approvals. Aureomycin combination approvals with Deccox or Bovatec provide enteric plus respiratory disease control. A proactive approach to addressing post-weaning respiratory disease is to include Aureomycin in starter feeds in addition to Deccox or Bovatec in milk replacer.