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Treatment protocol plan a valuable management tool for cow-calf operations too

Monday, May 1, 2017

It is “calf-working time” in Oklahoma, which should serve as a valuable reminder for producers to get with their veterinarians to review, revise or – if one does not exist – develop a treatment protocol plan for their specific cattle operations.

Some may consider a treatment protocol plan as being something feedyards and larger stocker operations do; however, it is a valuable management practice for large and small cow-calf producers as well and a key part of the Beef Quality Assurance program, remind animal agriculture professionals with the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.

BQA is a nationally coordinated, state-implemented program that provides systematic information to U.S. beef producers and beef consumers about how common sense husbandry techniques can be coupled with accepted scientific knowledge to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions.

“A treatment protocol plan is easy to do, straightforward and takes guesswork and faulty memories out of the equation,” said Dana Zook, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension area livestock specialist.

Simply put, write out a plan for what treatment or treatments are to used when cattle get sick for various reasons, making sure to also include follow-up dates and practices as well as possible alternative treatments if the initial treatment does not produce the desired result. The plan should be reviewed annually.

“As you update the protocol plan, previous versions should be kept on file so that you can refer back to treatments that have worked in previous situations,” Zook said. “Be sure to keep the treatment protocol plan on file where those who need it can find it easily. Putting it in a file cabinet is not automatically the best place on a ranch.”

A tip many find useful is for the producer to consult with his or her veterinarian when writing the plan.

Treatment records are important because:
● Cattle not responding to therapy may require a delayed drug clearance, and good records would indicate if this were the case; and
● Extra-label drug usage is only permitted under FDA guidelines involving a veterinarian-client-patient relationship, making individual animal identification and treatment records paramount.

Dr. Barry Whitworth, veterinarian and OSU Cooperative Extension food animal quality and health specialist, said the treatment protocol plan tells the consulting veterinarian what treatments are being applied, enabling them to make sure treatment recommendations are being followed and allowing them to judge whether treatment regimens need to be adjusted.

Whitworth and Zook said treatment records should include:
● Individual animal/group identification;
● Date treated;
● Product administered and manufacturer’s lot/serial number;
● Dosage used;
● Route and location of administration;
● Earliest date the animal will have cleared the withdrawal period; and
● Name of the person administering the product.

“All cattle, including dairy beef shipped for harvest, should be checked by appropriate personnel to assure that all prescription withdrawal times for animal health products administered have been met or exceeded for animals that have been treated,” Whitworth said.

In addition, a copy of all processing and treatment records should be transferred with cattle to the next production level.

“Prospective buyers need to be informed of any cattle that have not met recommended withdrawal times,” Whitworth said.

The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service is a state agency administered by OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and a fixture of the university’s state and federally mandated “teaching, research and extension” land-grant mission.

Oklahoma is the nation’s fifth-leading producer of cattle and calves, according to USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service data.

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