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A beef producer’s guide for use of antibiotics

Judicious use of antibiotics is no longer just a good idea — it’s essential if we want to have antibiotics in our toolbox going forward. Here are 14 things to keep in mind when using antibiotics with your cattle.

Wes Ishmael

June 5, 2017

2 Min Read
A beef producer’s guide for use of antibiotics
PeterHermesFurian / ThinkStock
  1.  Prevent problems. Emphasize appropriate husbandry and hygiene, routine health examinations and vaccinations.

  2.  Select and use antibiotics carefully. Consult with your veterinarian on the selection and use of antibiotics. Have a valid reason to use an antibiotic. Therapeutic alternatives should be considered prior to using antimicrobial therapy.

  3.  Avoid using antibiotics important in human medicine as first-line therapy. Avoid using those medications that are important to treating strategic human or animal infections as the first antibiotic.

  4.  Use the laboratory to help you select antibiotics. Cultures and susceptibility test results should be used to aid in the selection of antibiotics, whenever possible.

  5.  Combination antibiotic therapy is discouraged unless there is clear evidence the specific practice is beneficial. Select and dose an antibiotic to effect a cure.

  6.  Avoid inappropriate antibiotic use. Confine therapeutic antibiotic use to proven clinical indications, avoiding inappropriate uses such as for viral infections without bacterial complication.

  7.  Treatment programs should reflect best-use principles. Regimens for therapeutic antimicrobial use should be optimized using current pharmacological information and principles.

  8.  Treat the lowest number of animals possible. Limit antibiotic use to sick or at-risk animals.

  9.  Treat for the recommended time period to minimize the potential for bacteria to become resistant to antimicrobials.

  10.  Avoid environmental contamination with antibiotics. Steps should be taken to minimize antimicrobials reaching the environment through spillage, contaminated ground runoff or aerosolization.

  11.  Keep records of antibiotic use. Accurate records of treatment and outcome should be used to evaluate therapeutic regimens; always follow proper withdrawal times.

  12.  Follow label directions. Follow label instructions, and never use antibiotics other than as labeled without a valid veterinary prescription.

  13.  Extra-label antibiotic use must follow FDA regulations. Prescriptions, including extra-label use of medications, must meet the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act (AMDUCA) amendments to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and its regulations. This includes having a valid veterinarian-client relationship.

  14.  Subtherapeutic antibiotic use is discouraged. Antibiotic use should be limited to prevent or control disease and should not be used if the principal intent is to improve performance.

Related:6 antibiotic myths explained

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