All calf care personnel should have a zero tolerance for antibiotic residues in calves, advises Sam Leadley, calf-care specialist with Attica (N.Y.) Veterinary Associates. That is, any calf marketed from the farm should not contain residues from a treatment with antibiotics.

 Key steps for preventing or lessen the chances of antibiotic residues include:

1. Establish a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment of disease. An example of a validation form for this is included in the 2011 Milk and Dairy Beef Drug Residue Prevention Manual.

2. Implement a preventive calf health program to reduce the incidence of disease. Especially important are programs for newborn care and effective colostrum management.

3. Follow a seasonally-appropriate preweaned calf feeding program that adequately meets the needs of calves for energy and protein both for maintenance and growth.

4. Immediately after birth tag or otherwise identify all calves. And, visually mark all treated calves (tail paint, paint stick).

5. Make a list of recommend or approved drugs for calves. The 2011 Milk and Dairy Beef Drug Residue Prevention Manual contains example forms for listing these drugs as well as forms for beginning drug inventory, record of drug purchases and drug disposal record.

6. Set up written protocols for administering antibiotics for significant health risks. These include antibiotic or drug used, dose, route of administration, length of treatment and withdrawal time.

7. Train all workers, full-time and part-time, in the correct use of treatment protocols.

8. Do not use drugs that are specifically prohibited for use in calves.

9. If extra-label use of an antibiotic is prescribed by the herd veterinarian be certain that written instructions include that the drug is for preweaned calves, dose, route of administration, frequency of use and withdrawal time for calves. Remember, extra-label use will generally require an extended withdrawal time.

10. Establish a treatment record plan. To meet FDA regulations the following facts are the minimum needed: person giving drug, calf ID, date of treatment, drug, route of administration, dose and withdrawal time. Many producers find it useful to write down the date when the withdrawal period expires (that is, the safe shipping date).

Source: Calving Ease