Science has provided us with a number of useful antimicrobials to help ensure the health and wellbeing of both animals and humans. New regulations concerning use of antibiotics in feeds will begin in October of this year. The regulations are aimed to support the judicious use of antimicrobials to reduce the development of resistant bacteria. This will result in changes to the steps needed for producers to obtain products that contain antimicrobials.

In the past, producers have been able to obtain medicated milk replacer or a mineral product containing chlortetracycline from their local feed mill or farm store. The new regulations will require the uses of these products or others that contain certain antimicrobials are under the direct supervision of a veterinarian. A feed distributor cannot provide them to you without first receiving an order (veterinary feed directive) or prescription from your veterinarian. In turn your local veterinarian will need to have sufficient knowledge of the animal(s) by virtue of examination and/or visits to the facility where the animals are managed. The veterinarian will need to be engaged with your operation enough to assume responsibility for making clinical judgments about animal health. This is known as a valid patient-client relationship. These rules will apply regardless of the number of animals involved.

In the past some antimicrobial products were used in attempt to control issues for which the product had no label claim. An example might be the use of chlortetracycline to minimize problems with foot rot or pinkeye. These uses will no longer be allowed because there is no label claim for the effectiveness of control for those conditions. Your veterinarian cannot prescribe an extra label use.

When you obtain a prescription or veterinary feed directive from your veterinarian, each party (producer, veterinarian, feed distributor) must retain a copy of the order for a period of two years. The copies must be available for inspection upon request. The veterinary feed directive will have an expiration date no more than six months from the date of issue and the associated feed must not be fed to animals after the expiration date.

Hopefully producers already have a good working relationship with a veterinarian who helps plan treatment, vaccination and biosecurity programs. However, retirements and gaps in service coverage may have resulted in a more disjointed approach to veterinary services for some operations. If you donít currently have a good working relationship with a veterinarian now, is a good time to start working on that process.

As with any regulatory change there will be questions and time will be needed for everyone to learn a new system. While no one plans to have a disease outbreak, some advance communication with your veterinarian before events such as weaning will put you in a better position to get the needed treatment with minimal stress on you and your cattle.

ē Information provided by Sandy Johnson, Northwest Area Livestock Specialist.

Stacy Campbell is the Kansas State Research and Extension agent for Ellis County.