One of the most important things we, as producers, must do is not only meet the needs of our consumers but their expectations as well. This includes a food supply that they can trust.
With the events of today’s world unfolding around us, events are being canceled, and that includes one event near and dear to my heart that I have helped teach for the past three years is not going to occur like it normally does every year. That course is the Youth Quality Assurance (YQA) training for 4-H youth.
I love teaching kids about caring for their animals and how they are the first step in the food production chain by ensuring their fair animals are well cared for. YQA helps youth build the skill sets they need in becoming the future of agriculture.
A key point that we instill in the youth is how important it is to have a veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR). Having a verified VCPR is especially important for your grazing herd. VCPR is defined by the American Veterinary Medical Association as the basis for interaction among veterinarians, their clients and their patients and is critical to the health of your animal.
Much like having a relationship with your primary care physician benefits you, so does a VCPR. It is easier to make appointments and get the medicines you need if your doctor knows your history. The same goes for a veterinarian and your herd.
The veterinarian is referred to as the Veterinarian on Record (VoR), and both the VoR and the client should sign a form to document this relationship. The Ohio Veterinary Medical Association Drug Task Force has created a VCPR template that can be downloaded at vet.osu.edu/extension/general-food-fiber-animal-resources.
Types of medicine
One easy way to differentiate between the types of medicines that can be obtained through a valid VCPR are water-use and feed-use drugs/products. All water-soluble antibiotics and sulfa products that were labeled for administration via water will require a written prescription. Examples of prescription required drugs include Oxytetracycline HCL Soluble Powder, L-S 50 Soluble Powder and Strike III Type B Medicated Feed.
Knowing the difference between these two types of drugs/products will help you determine whether you need a prescription or if they can be written into your feeding management plan. If you would like to read the Over-the-Counter Drugs Veterinary Feed Directive Brochure in its entirety the link can be found at: vet.osu.edu/sites/vet.osu.edu/files/documents/extension/Brochure_VFD.pdf
Drugs that may have been purchased in the past as over-the-counter to be included in feeding programs will now require a Veterinary Feed Directive or VFD. A VFD, according to the FDA, is a written (nonverbal) statement issued by a licensed veterinarian during the veterinarian’s professional practice that orders the use of a VFD drug or combination VFD drug in or on an animal feed.
Antibiotic drugs that are required to have a VFD order to be added on or in the feed are those deemed by the FDA to be medically important for human medicine. The FDA is concerned that improper or overuse of these antibiotics may contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria making it harder to treat human illnesses. Examples of feed-use drugs/products include Aureomycin 4G crumbles, Scour-Ease medicated, SAV-A-CALF Scours and Pneumonia Treatment and Calf Medic Plus.
It is important to note that drugs falling under a VFD must be followed exactly as the label instructs. More information about VCPR and VFD can be found at ohio4h.org/statewide-programs/animal-sciences/livestock/livestock-resources/veterinary-feed-directive-vfd
Lack of vets
The problem that seems to be increasing amongst producers is the lack of large animal vets available. As reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, it is projected that the amount of licensed and practicing veterinarians will increase by 12% by 2022, but most of this field will consist of veterinarians who solely work with pets or smaller animals.
Reports indicate that the demand for veterinarians who work with larger animals is increasing, primarily since there are fewer physicians treating livestock and bigger animals such as horses, bulls and cows today.
What does this mean for producers who live in rural areas? It means access to drugs used to manage the health of your livestock will be determined by the presence of a valid VCPR.
The relationships we build with our veterinary provider are essential to our business, even if that veterinary practice is not located as close to your home as it previously may have been. Living in a county that does not have a large animal veterinarian handily accessible can prove trying at times.
Do not be discouraged though, because there are ways to deal with this situation. Like I have mentioned previously, building that relationship with your veterinarian is crucial. If they are familiar with your farm, your herd and your situation, it makes the situation easier to navigate.
If that relationship is already in place, some veterinarians will say a picture is worth a thousand words and are more than willing to accept photos, video footage along with your own description of the situation at hand, in order to assess the problem.
Note: having a close relationship with your veterinarian will determine if this is possible as every practice runs their operation differently.
A farm visit may not always be necessary, which is important for producers during this time of decreased accessibility to large animal veterinarians, and especially true as we are experiencing an unprecedented situation surrounding COVID-19.
There is a wealth of technology surrounding us and lately — the last three weeks or so — we have been using it to its full potential. Most individuals are teleworking from home and communicating with others virtually. So why not telecommute to the vet? This will allow you, as a producer, to maintain production without sacrificing your farm’s biosecurity.
Remember prevention is always the best medicine; that is why it is important to have a plan in place to keep your herd happy and healthy.
FDA requirements of producers can be found at www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/developmentapprovalprocess/ucm455413.htm.
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