Reduce antibiotics without compromising animal health

In 2017, training in the sensible use of antibiotics for Quebec dairy producers was established by the Association of Medical Practitioners of Quebec in collaboration with the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Montreal. Thousands of dairy farmers followed her. Thanks to this work, several solutions have been proposed. As a milk producer, what we do can affect the health of animals, but also human and the environment. The question is important. Several actions can help curb the occurrence of bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

Take preventative action

Prevention is better than cure! Instead of investing in treating sick animals with antibiotics, it is more effective to invest in prevention. Providing a clean, dry and comfortable environment is actually an effective means of preventing several diseases (respiratory problems, mastitis, neonatal diarrhea, movement problems).

Do not go blindly there

Treatments should be based on bacteriological culture results. For example, taking a milk sample from all cases of clinical and subclinical mastitis BEFORE starting antibiotic treatment should be done automatically. Using the right drug for the right pathogen is key. Giving an antibiotic if the infection is gone is not wise use and may contribute to antibiotic resistance.

Journaling, an ally!

It is important to keep good records of diseases and treatments, ie. to note the reason for the treatment, its duration, the doses offered and the animals treated. Compilation of all these data makes it possible not only to calculate the incidence of these different diseases, but also to determine whether there is a problem by comparing it with the defined targets and to introduce an appropriate management according to the pathogens present. . the effectiveness of treatments given in the past. Record keeping is the overall overview of the crew’s health to adjust the “game plan”. It can also be used to record calf mortality, for example. Thus, each herd should have a written protocol (standard procedure) prepared in collaboration with the veterinarian for the treatment of common diseases, including clinical mastitis, pneumonia, calf diarrhea and metritis.

The right fabric

It is important to respect the duration of treatment (label or established protocol) and not to change antibiotics before the scheduled reassessment period. An antibiotic approved for the condition being treated should always be the first choice of treatment. Since February 2019, it has been mandatory to use antibiotics of minor importance in human medicine (class 2, 3 and 4 instead of class 1 of very great importance), while protecting the health and safety of animals. This is even though the class 1 antibiotic has no retention time and would be more cost effective to use in the short term. In fact, economic considerations should not weigh in the balance.

rely on the forecast

Unfortunately, cases with little chance of success should not be addressed. Animals that are chronically infected or infected with a virulent pathogen with little chance of cure should not receive antibiotics. In fact, this practice increases the risk of developing antibiotic resistance, in addition to keeping a diseased animal in the herd, which spreads the potentially resistant pathogenic agent into its environment. For example, calves infected with Salmonella Dublin will have little chance of recovery as this bacterium is often resistant to several antibiotics. Another example is heifers affected by chronic pneumonia, which unfortunately has a poor prognosis and low chances of recovery. Killing the animal is among the options to discuss with your veterinarian to ensure the general health of the herd.

By following these five tips, you will promote the health of your herd and take concrete steps to curb antibiotic resistance. Everyone must do their part to combat the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance.

Dr. ALIX SERAPIGLIA, etc., Order of Veterinarians of Quebec


Adapted from an article published in April 2019 in The milk producer in Quebec.

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