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Straight Talk: VFD Update

VFD Update

Dr GF KennedyVeterinary Feed Directive rules. They are not simple and I have had numerous calls from producers and veterinarians trying to get on the same page. On December 2nd, 2016 the rule was amended to allow extra label use in minor species. This was followed by a Compliance Policy Guide, eleven pages long that was difficult to understand. Recently there is a USDA accreditation module for veterinarians that I found good for explaining the regulation. It’s module 29.

Under veterinary supervision, we can now use drugs in the feed to control, treat and prevent abortion. That was my main concern because other than recommended vaccination there were no other options and sheep and goats are not always vaccinated and efficacy of some of the vaccines is questionable. Routine use of low-level antimicrobials in finishing should be avoided, as this practice is difficult to justify. Pulsing at higher levels when indicated should be ok but that decision rests with the attending veterinarian. Another aspect is milk, some producers have been adding antibiotics to poor quality milk replacers and claiming that works. Milk is now considered feed and antibiotics shouldn’t be added on a routine basis. It may be alright to pulse it but again that is at the discretion of your veterinarian.

Sheep and goat producers large and small need to establish a relationship with their veterinarian. Some of you have not done that but if you intend to stay in the business this will be essential. Some of the drugs you previously purchased over the counter are now RX. Sulfa would be an example.

I can already hear it, “my vet doesn’t know anything about sheep and goats.” He or she may know more than you think and if willing can search out answers for you. I have probably talked to twenty vets on the phone this week and for the most part, they just want to learn and understand the regulation and explore the treatment, prevention and control opportunities.

This VFD issue is at best confusing. Is feeding antimicrobials to minor species illegal? The correct answer is yes if you take the quiz in module 29. Is it permitted to provide to safe guard the health of the animal as determined by the attending veterinarian?  The answer is yes. The government has chosen not to enforce because there are no other alternatives. This has been the procedure on the drug side for years and now is in effect for feed and water medication. Drugs require a prescription to be used off label and that is different than a VFD. There are some classifications of drugs that cannot be used off label. An example would be Baytril in sheep and goats. In minor species, the economic barrier of regulatory approval restricts approval of many drugs that are now used in other species. There was a provision to provide funds to assist approval in minor species but it has not been funded.

Milk & Milk Machine Webinar:

We continue to receive thanks and compliments daily on the services we provide answering email questions 24/7 and fielding numerous calls here at the clinic.  We appreciate your returned support through purchasing products through us.  Some of the products we provide are educational such as the Shepherd’s Club, for $80 you get the opportunity to participate in numerous webinars in a timely fashion and receive my manual, Pipestone’s Veterinary Guide to Sheep and Goats.

We just finished up with our webinar on Milk and Milk Machines. The machines are certainly the future if you have any number of lambs. They are dependable, but like your automobile, they require maintenance and do break down occasionally. However, when properly maintained they do the best job of any of the alternative methods. Cold milk in a nipple bucket free choice would be second and scheduled bottle feeding is a distant last. I would suggest giving 1cc CDT and 1cc penicillin early when processing and the CD every ten days and at weaning, thirty days and not a day longer. If lambs haven’t received colostrum I would say a minimum of 8 oz. is essential and is best delivered by tubing.

We service the machines we sell and Del and Scott are very knowledgeable on operation of the machines. The company warrants the machines for six months.

We have many products that have been specifically designed for sheep and goats and are marketed under the Shepherd’s Choice label. We are particularly happy with the acceptance of our milk in the industry. It works and is designed to benefit lambs and kids, not market whey. Our acidified skim milk product is second to none. We have a pricing structure from one bag to 20 ton that is friendly to dealers and producers. This allows producers to join together to save on costs. At the end of the day you can still purchase a 25# bag, pay freight and still be completive with the farm stores less quality product.

Our last webinar, Jan 30th, involved preparation for lambing and lambing time problems. It’s always fun to work with young lambs but we covered the field including processing, Vitamin E and energy needs, colostrum, CDT, iodine requirements, navel infection, adequate milk intake, ewe health problems and whatever else comes to mind during a discussion.

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