Dr. Barz: Start now on Veterinary Feed Directive paperwork
October 13, 2016
It is hard to believe how short the days are getting. Seems there's not enough daylight to get all my chores done. The rains have been great and the grass is recovering. We will soon be able to turn our cows to the stalks and stubble. This residue feeding will help decrease our winter feed costs if the snow holds off. We had enough wet flakes last week to make the ground white, but it only lasted about an hour. Hopefully the snow will stay away until Christmas.
Last spring, we promoted Long Range as a dewormer at turnout. The product is expensive and costs about $15 per cow-calf pair. Data from controlled experiments conducted right here in South Dakota demonstrated an increase of 40 pounds in cow weight in Long Range dewormed cows and also guaranteed enough gain increase in the calves to pay the cost of the deworming. I know it is early in the season and we had a good summer for grass, but one of my clients reported an increase of 40 pounds of weight for each calf. It was the same stocking rate on the same pasture in the same timeframe. That's a great return on a $15 investment and he also believes the cows are in better body condition. I realize this isn't a study with controls, but his weights had been consistent from year to year and he feels forty pounds is his reward for innovation and early uptake. Not all producers are reporting these gains but most report improved weights.
Hopefully most of the calves are weaned. This allows the cows to regain body condition they lost during lactation. It is much easier and cheaper to add the weight now rather than late in gestation. This winter the cows will need more energy because of cold weather and snow. There will be a lot of corn in the harvested fields for the cows to glean. Bean stubble is also good for short periods of time. Soybeans are a legume and similar to alfalfa. There are a few beans and pods on the ground and a few leaves and stems. These residue feeds are better utilized it there is protein added to the diet. It isn't necessary to feed daily but range cake or similar product fed every second or third day will be sufficient.
On January 1, 2017 the new regulations on feeding of antibiotics will begin. Now is the time to get started on the paperwork that will be required. A Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) will be required. It must be written by your veterinarian and a copy sent to your feed dealer and one to you the owner. These copies must be kept for two years should the USDA decide to audit you. The only major stipulation is the growth promotent portion of antibiotic feeding is no longer allowed. In short the VFD can only prescribe usage for specified treatments (label usage) and no one may prescribe usage in any other manner. This covers all phases of livestock and poultry production. One strange sidebar is sheep and goats. We will be very limited by research and labels allowing antibiotics in small ruminants.
Also all antibiotics added to the water must be prescribed by your veterinarian. The label does not need to be followed exactly by the veterinarian as long as he/she assumes the responsibility for residues and adverse reactions. This may enable the usage of products in the water rather than in the feed.
The new regulations for VFD's and water prescriptions are nothing to be alarmed about. Consult with your veterinarian and feed dealer to prepared for your antibiotic needs. These relationships will make the transition easy allowing you to enter the era of antibiotic restrictions.