Animal health protocols key

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Editor's Note: This DCHA Tip of the Week is brought to you by the Beef Checkoff.


The Beef Checkoff recently hosted Michael Apley, DVM, clinical pharmacologist and food animal production medicine specialist at Kansas State University, to address a group of dairy and veal producers about antibiotic resistance, residues and what role a veterinarian plays on today's farm.


"As an industry, we're under the microscope as never before in regard to this issue," says Apley. "We have to be able to document what we are doing and develop treatment and management strategies and build protocols for animal care with our clients throughout the production system."

Through the Dairy Animal Care Quality Assurance (DACQA) program, dairy and veal producers are encouraged to participate in the voluntary program to enhance and demonstrate animal care practices that ensure food safety, quality and value and enhance consumer confidence. The DACQA provides a list of recommended best management practices for judicious use of antimicrobials in cattle - adapted by NCBA from the AVMA, AABP and AVC Appropriate Veterinary Antibiotic Use Guidelines - to help keep food safety a top priority.

"As veterinarians working with our clients, it's important to develop relationships with all of the people working on the dairy," Apley continues. "Together, we need to agree on the specific protocols and adhere to proper drug use, administration and withdrawal times. Then both veterinarians and producers should document training and employees' agreement to follow these protocols."

In developing clients' residue avoidance plans, Apley suggests using a checklist that includes treatment protocols and records for tracking animals. Remember, the more details handled and recorded upfront, the less chance for errors later on. And a good place to start when developing the farm's protocols are the DACQA guidelines, which contain basic information on the proper selection and administration of products, proper recordkeeping for the entire production system and animal care and handling guidelines.

For additional information on animal housing, handling and transportation, refer to the Dairy Animal Care Quality Assurance program or the Dairy Calf & Heifer Association's Gold Standards III, animal welfare standards for rearing calves and heifers from birth to freshening.

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