As an example of protocols for sick calves, consider the following:
The producer, in conjunction with their veterinarian, would develop a short list of conditions commonly seen on their farm, as well as a concise set of protocols to deal with these situations. Most producers already have some ‘standard treatment protocols’ in their heads, but they have often not had these evaluated by their veterinarian. Writing these protocols down is also the first step in making sure that effective, efficient protocols are consistently being followed by everyone responsible for treating animals. A set might be developed for mastitis of increasing severity ( eg. M1, M2, M3), for pneumonia in calves, pneumonia in cows, lameness in cows, etc. In this manner commonly encountered conditions would have a simple protocol which includes clinical signs, therapeutics at appropriate dose (mg/kg), route of administration (e.g., intravenous or intra mammary, etc), duration of treatment, withdrawal and withholding times.
For complicated or unusual conditions, very detailed and complicated protocols could be developed, or these could be handled as special situations by the herd veterinarian and/or the most trained person on the farm.
Treatment protocols should reviewed periodically by the herd’s veterinarian (at least every 6-12 months), who should have a valid Veterinary-Client- Patient relationship (VCPR) with the farm, preferably documented by a signed VCPR form.
To keep track of treatments a dairy producer should record - on a calendar, in a computer program, or in a notebook - the date, animal ID, protocol number, the name of the person implementing the protocol, and the date when the withholding/withdrawal will be complete. In the current market and regulatory environment, having concise and complete animal treatment records (including withholding and withdrawal dates) is extremely important - using treatment protocols is one way to accomplish that easily and efficiently. And make sure you save the records in whatever format you have them…preferably for at least a couple of years! That way you can show the inspector/regulator, if (when?) they show up at your door, that you are, and have been, committed to marketing high quality, residue-free, animals.
Farms that, with their veterinarian, have taken the initiative to implement good protocols and records are to be applauded, not only for protecting their own interests, but also for contributing to a positive image for the dairy industry. Farms that have not yet done so should be aware that they are placing themselves at risk for more severe regulatory action should residues be found in their animals.
Source: Dr. David R. Wolfgang and Dr. Ernest Hovingh, Extension veterinarians, Penn State Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences