As the old saying goes “April showers bring May flowers”, I wonder if the same goes for April snow showers? As we continue to toil through the cold and wet month of April, a lot is starting to fall behind in terms of growth, growing degree days and maturity. Last week I had the opportunity to visit some wonderful farmers across the county, review the results of statewide soil health sampling research, and see a new robotic milking system being installed at a local dairy farm.
During these farm visits, I took the time to assess the pastures, wheat and hay fields and noticed that the grass is very slow to come loose and start. Much of this can be due to varying temperature swings and cool soil temperatures. Ground temperatures are currently hovering around 42°F, which is below normal averages for this time of year. As for the future outlook for the rest of the month, there will be little improvement with a cooler than normal trend expected through the end of the month. The weather isn’t the only challenge facing producers these days, a new challenge is looming on the horizon in the world of over-the-counter (CTC) livestock drugs. In this column, I want to discuss some upcoming rules regarding the purchase and use of over-the-counter antibiotics.
In June 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that all antimicrobials for medical use that were previously available over-the-counter will be labeled as prescription-only. This was a 2-year implementation period with a start date of June 2023. The 2-year implementation period allows for the process of animal drug suppliers to change the marketing status approved for certain antimicrobials intended for use in non-food or companion animals. and food production or animal husbandry that are currently labeled as prescription over-the-counter. Although most pet owners and livestock producers are probably hearing about it as news outlets and the media begin to share the details, it’s actually been happening for nearly 20 years. In 2003, the FDA began evaluating use and classifying antimicrobials based on their importance for human use and importance. With the new changes, customers who need to buy and use antimicrobials that fall under the new label will need to have a prescription from a licensed veterinarian and have a customer-patient relationship, this means animal owners and producers must have regular contact with a licensed veterinarian familiar with the operation or the status of the animal.
Pet owners and livestock producers will need to work with veterinarians by requesting the use of the antimicrobial, and then prescriptions will be given for its use. This means the days of having to run to the food or medicine store and grab what you need at the last minute are over. Additionally, smaller independent veterinary clinics will have a greater workload trying to track possibly more patients and greater record keeping requirements.
A complete list of affected antimicrobial drugs is available at https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/judicious-use-antimicrobials/list-approved-new-animal-drug-applications-affected-gfi-263/. Some of the most popular antimicrobials include:
Oxytetracycline (LA200 or LA300)
Tylosin (Tylan 200)
Penicillin G Porcaine
Farmers and pet owners might feel overwhelmed by this upcoming new change, the fact is that it has been developing for a long time to reduce the development of antibiotic resistance not only in animals but also in humans. Judicious use of any type of antibiotic should be used on the farm or at home. Management plays a key role, as we become better livestock managers by providing better living conditions, stress-free nutrition and handling, livestock will become healthier and antimicrobial use will become less and less of an issue . As with everything animals get sick and antimicrobials are sometimes needed, it is essential to have a good client-patient relationship with your veterinarian. Remember to be patient with your vet, as many independent (one man show) vets may be overwhelmed at first. This brings me to my last point, there are approximately 75,000 livestock farms in Ohio and approximately 2,500 licensed veterinarians in the state. Only about 7% of these veterinarians are licensed large animal veterinarians. If you have a youngster in the family who is interested in veterinary science, help fuel that interest and passion.
· The application deadline for enrollment in the USDA Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is May 13. Call the USDA NRCS office at (937) 544-2033 option 3.