When something has worked well for decades on an operation, it’s easy to forget why it became an important part of the management program in the first place. This is often the case when it comes to feed-grade antimicrobials.

“Producers have realized the benefits of including feed-grade antimicrobials, but since they’ve been embedded into their programs for so long — often 50 or 60 years — they might have forgotten how much value they really bring,” said Blaine Corners, PhD, beef cattle nutritionist with Zoetis. “And when you can’t remember the value, you might not understand the risks of not including them.”

Here are a few reminders of why feed-grade antimicrobials are valuable to management programs:

·         Less stress. Stress affects cattle in the same way it affects people — they get run down and are more likely to get sick. Adding antimicrobials to feed provides a less stressful, more efficient way to help prevent and control disease. Producers have the ability to provide the best care without another trip through the chute.

·         An option for an effective treatment. Feed might be the only route of administration available to achieve healthy animals. If individual treatment is impractical because a producer doesn’t have the facilities or cattle might be miles from the operation, this is an effective way to deliver medicines that help improve health.

·         Healthy and productive animals. Animals are only productive if they are healthy. Feed-grade antimicrobials provide value in controlling and treating various diseases that take a toll on health and well-being. For example, one of the most commonly used methods of controlling anaplasmosis includes incorporating a feed-grade chlortetracycline such as AUREOMYCIN® in the animal’s feed or mineral supplements. Stocker and feedlot producers also use AUREOMYCIN to help start high-risk calves before they go on pasture or enter the feedlot by incorporating it into the ration or including it as a top dress to treat respiratory disease.

·         Veterinary involvement. When the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) regulation goes into effect Jan. 1, 2017, veterinarians need to be involved in decisions about feed-grade antimicrobial use, which includes AUREOMYCIN, as well as chlortetracycline and sulfamethazine products (such as AUREO S 700®). A close veterinary relationship is, and has always been, an important aspect to realize the full value of feed-grade antimicrobials. When a veterinarian works closely with producers and their nutritionist in an animal health program, this is when all of the pieces in that program fit together. With more involvement and transparency, there will be better records, fewer chances for ineffective use of these products and advice to help prevent diseases that require treatment.

“Feed-grade antimicrobials have been an important component of producers’ management programs for more than 70 years,” Dr. Corners said. “All of us play a role in continuing to preserve their value. They are user-friendly and effective. And in the end, cattle are healthier and more productive.”

For more information on feed-grade antimicrobials and the FDA VFD regulation, contact your veterinarian, feed company nutritionist or Zoetis representative, or visit ResponsibleAntibioticUse.com/VFD