KATELYN STEGALL COLUMN: New animal restrictions: What you need to know before June?

Proper planning is vital to running a successful livestock operation, so we want to give you a heads up for what’s coming soon.

Katelynn Stegall

In June, all medically important antibiotics used in livestock production will be leaving the farm and feed store shelves, and will fall under veterinary oversight.

What this means for you as a producer is that you will no longer be able to purchase affected drugs without a prescription from a veterinarian. Affected products will include: cephapirin, cephapirin benzathine, gentamicin, lincomycin, oxytetracycline, penicillin G procaine, penicillin G benzathine, sulfadimethoxine, sulfamethazine and tylosin. For clarity, this will include LA-200 and 300, noromycin, vetramyicn, duramycin, terramycin, draxxin, penicillin, tylan, ToDay, TomMorrow and many other commonly used livestock antibiotics. These new guidelines will not include non-medically important antimicrobials such as coccidiostats, ionophores, bacitracins, carbadox, flavomycins and tiamulin.

While this is a big change, there is no need to panic. There are steps you can take to help ease the transition.

First, you should not try to stock up on these antimicrobials for fear of not being able to get them in the future. These products are not coming off the market completely, and will still be readily available when the right steps to obtain them are taken. Trying to stockpile these products will lead to shortages and producers will not be able to get the treatments they need for their animals right now. These products will also expire, so any stockpile you try to build will be unusable in the future.

What you need to focus on right now is establishing a veterinary client patient relationship (VCPR). A VCPR is “a formal relationship that you have with a veterinarian who serves as your primary contact for all veterinary services and is familiar with you, your livestock/animals, and your farm operation.”

The state-defined VCPR must at least address the concepts that the veterinarian:

1) Engage with the client to assume responsibility for making clinical judgments about patient health;

2) Have sufficient knowledge of the patient by virtue of patient examination and/or visits to the facility where patient is managed; and

3) Provide for any necessary follow-up evaluation or care.

A VCPR form will be filed with your veterinarian’s office.

This does not mean that you must have a veterinarian come out to diagnose and treat every animal that has an issue on your farm. It simply means that you will no longer be able to run to your nearest store and pick up a bottle of LA-200. These products will still be readily available, they will just have to be purchased through the veterinarian’s office you have the established VCPR with, or with a prescription in hand (obtained through your veterinarian with the standing VCPR) at stores that still carry these products. These restrictions make the veterinarian responsible for the use of antibiotics on your farm.

There are several advantages to these new regulations. As a livestock producer, you need to have a relationship with a veterinarian. These new restrictions will ensure that you do.

Working with your veterinarian may help you to discover some more effective antibiotic options for the condition that you are dealing with and veterinarians may be able to provide prevention options so that antibiotics are not even necessary.

A relationship with your veterinarian will help them to be more familiar with your farm enterprise, so you can work together to come up with the best management, prevention and treatment plans for your individual livestock operation.

It is important to keep in mind that this change is for the better.

Getting some control over antibiotics will ensure that they stay useful, as the goal is to cut down on antibiotic resistance in both livestock and humans. Taking these steps helps to ensure that these products continue to do the job we need them to.

Start getting ready for this change now. Talk to your veterinarian and establish that VCPR. If you need assistance finding a livestock veterinarian in your area, contact your local extension agent.

Katelyn Stegall is the livestock extension agent with the Stanly County office of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension. Call 704-983-3987.