Are you Ready for VFD?

Jan. 1, 2017 marks the beginning of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) regulations. These regulations were developed because of the concern over the use of feed grade antibiotics in production animal agriculture and the possible effects their use in animals may have on human health. The main goal of the VFD is to control the use of the “medically important” antibiotics that are used in both human and animal situations. Just as people must get a Doctor’s prescription to use an antibiotic, livestock producers will need to get a VFD from a licensed veterinarian to use these products on their operations. The antibiotics most commonly used in animal production that are covered under VFD regulations are: oxytetracycline, chlortetracycline, neomycin, penicillin, sulfamethazine, apramycin, avilmycin, erythromycin, florfenicol, hygromycin B, lincomycin, oleandomycin, sulfamethoxine/ornethoprin, sulfamerazine, tilmicosin, tylosin and virginiamycin. Oxytetracycline and neomycin are the most common of the “medically important” antibiotics used in milk replacers. Since the VFD regulations prohibit the continuous use of antibiotics, milk replacers containing these two antibiotics, or any other VFD antibiotic, will go off the market after Dec. 31, 2016. In order for a livestock producer to use products covered by VFD regulations the producer must get a valid VFD from a veterinarian licensed in the state where the operation is located. The veterinarian must have a valid veterinary‐patient‐client relationship with the operation. The VFD must list specific details including type of animal, approximate number of animals, name of the drug being used, drug indications, dosage and withdrawal time for the drug, and an expiration date of the VFD order. The VFD order cannot be...

Four Pregnancy Loss Risk Factors and How to Control Them

Pregnancy losses may be a larger problem on most dairies than many realize. This may be because pregnancy losses are only recorded after a pregnancy is confirmed at 30 to 45 days after insemination. However, recent studies have shown that more than 60 percent of all pregnancies are lost prior to term. And 85% of these losses occur prior to day 42, when the embryo becomes a fetus. That means that 51% of all pregnancies are lost before day 42 of the pregnancy. There are many causes for these losses. Known risk factors include: Postpartum diseases and disorders like dystocia, metritis, endometritis, mastitis, fever, ketosis and lameness Heat stress Digestive problems Negative energy balance and excessive weight loss Toxins in feedstuffs such as mycotoxins, gossypol and ergot alkaloids Infectious agents such as IBR, BVD, Campylobacter ssp., Lepta and Neospora caninum. Here are some steps you can take to control or reduce the following risk factors: 1.Heat Abatement One way to reduce these risks factors is with heat abatement. High producing dairy cows are sensitive to heat stress due to their high feed intake and high metabolic rate that generate body heat. Heat stress affects fertilization and early embryonic development. Therefore heat abatement becomes important to help prevent pregnancy losses.  Examples of heat abatement management practices are: Fans for air movement Sprinklers to wet the cows body surface Misters to cool the environment Shade in outdoor lots 2. Improved Health Fertility is strongly related to a cow’s health status. Cows with dystocia, metritis or endometritis are much less likely to have normal ovaria function which effects embryo development. Cows with...

Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) and what you need to know

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made the final changes to the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) which states animal drugs intended for use in or on animal feed will require the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. As a producer, this means having a written prescription from an in state veterinarian with a client-patient relationship to use specific drugs.  For all VFD drug prescriptions there will be a clear start and expiration date for that drug to be fed to an approximate number of animals. The new regulations will eliminate the use of certain drugs for production purposes such as growth promotion and feed efficiency. Producer’s VFD drug responsibilities: contacting your veterinarian to diagnose and treat your animals following your veterinarian’s recommendations administering the VFD medicated feed to your animals according to the directions on the VFD order maintain a copy of the VFD order for a minimum of 2 years; and provide VFD orders for inspection and copying by FDA upon request provide a copy of the VFD order to the feed distributor if the issuing veterinarian sends the distributor’s copy of the VFD through you, the client Information required to be on a VFD order: veterinarian’s name, address, and telephone number client’s name, business or home address, and telephone number premises at which the animals specified in the VFD are located date of VFD issuance expiration date of the VFD name of the VFD drug(s) species and production class of animals to be fed the VFD feed approximate number of animals to be fed the VFD feed by the expiration date of the VFD indication for which the VFD is issued...

Graze your way to success

Did you know there is more than one way to feed market livestock? The majority of people overlook some of the easiest ways to feed their meat animals. All they have to do is step outside and look. I am talking about grazing rotations with the land they already possess. There are numerous benefits of managing your pastures such as lowering feed costs, maintaining lush vegetation, reducing acidosis in the rumen, longer grazing durations, and limited soil erosion. Grazing rotation management for pastures and/or ranges is the control of the frequency and the intensity of animals that are consuming the forages. Basically, for the farmer to optimize herd performance and maintain forages, he or she has to keep a balance of where the livestock are grazing and how long they need to be in the area to consume enough nutrients without overgrazing the land. Overgrazing causes the farmer’s natural renewable feed source to be depleted. It costs more to regenerate the forages through the extra labor, re-seeding, fertilizers, etc. If herdsmen maintain their pastures at an appropriate level it will take little to no effort for upkeep. Having too high of a grazing intensity in a specific area will not only affect the health of the vegetation, but the performance of the animals. As the grazing pressure increases, the animal’s intake of nutrients is reduced due to lesser amounts of available nutrients. (Helpful tip: animal performance determines the amount of feed consumed per day. If you have high performance goals, then the animal will need to consume more to maintain the energy and nutrient requirements.) Livestock will consume the...

Summer months affecting your herd’s fertility?

Heat stress can occur in cattle at any time where the temperature is over 72°F and 45% humidity. Heat stress not only affects food intake and production, but many overlook how it can lower fertility and conception rates.  Several factors can contribute to fertility issues during summer heat. Shorter periods of exhibiting estrus Less mounting activity Exhibit estrus only after temperatures cool in evenings Higher internal body temperature Poor quality of semen, egg, and embryo AI conception decreases Greater chance of absorption during pregnancy All of these lead to much lower estrus detection during the hot weather. Detection may be improved with the use of mount detectors. Estrus synchronization protocols and timed insemination can improve conception rates with the help of proper management. The warmer temperatures can affect the viability of the egg during ovulation and the embryo after fertilization.  Even after implantation, production of progesterone, which is needed to maintain the pregnancy can be reduced.  Therefore can cause an increase in prostaglandin F2alpha production which can cause pregnancy failure. Semen quality can also be reduced in hot weather if natural service is being used. Bulls can have damaging effects from the summer weather by not being able to keep the testicles cool for sperm development. They will have a higher amount of unviable and deformed sperm. Cattle have limited ability to sweat and cool themselves by evaporative cooling. It is necessary for the herdsmen to take initiative and provide shade, housing, foggers or misters, and fans to help cool the animals. This helps livestock maintain cooler body temperatures and recover faster. More so, it will help maintain milk production...

Pre-Harvest Handling to Preserve High Quality Beef Carcass

The goal of beef producers is to provide an appealing meat product to the consumer based off of the qualities set by the USDA. One of the biggest factors of maintaining carcass quality is how the beef cattle are handled. High stress situations negatively affect the animal’s welfare, and can greatly decrease the value of the meat. Pre-processing handling is just as important as on the farm handling of the animals, even though the cattle are not at the processing plant for very long. Rough handling, on or off the farm, can double the extent of bruising found on the carcass, by stressing the cattle out to the point of falling and/or colliding. Some good techniques to use when herding cattle through the chutes or corrals is to use the point of balance located by their front shoulder, and the flight zone. The point of balance technique uses the cattle’s natural need to move the opposite way of people as an advantage. Hot shots should not be the primary tool to move animals, but may be used as a last resort. According to Dr. Temple Grandin from Colorado State University, handlers should never twist the tail of the animal or beat them to make them move. Paddles and flags are more the appropriate tools to direct small groups of cattle to the designated area. To further decrease the stress levels, the handlers can limit visual distractions, such as removing  hanging chains and covering parts of the chutes. Another point to bring to attention is that cattle prefer leaving a dark area to a lighter one. This can be done by...