Review feed rations, budgets with vet to ensure proper antibiotic use
Taking time to review feed rations and budgets with their veterinarian will help pork producers stay in compliance with the new veterinary feed directive (VFD) rules and use medications even more responsibly, effectively and economically.
The total number of rations fed during a specific growth stage makes up the feed budget, explained Laura Bruner, DVM, Swine Vet Center, St. Peter. Minn. speaking during a recent pork industry webinar hosted by PORK Network and sponsored by Zoetis.
This allows individual rations to be reviewed as part of a total feeding program for the nursery, for example. These feed budgets include each ration’s designation or name, length of time each is fed and any medication included in each diet.
By reviewing the feed budget, the producer and veterinarian can assess health challenges at each growth stage to determine if that ration needs an antibiotic to ensure pig health.
If the medication is currently being fed at a subtherapeutic level, then the determination needs to be made if the disease pressure requires the full label rate for disease control or if it can be dropped from the ration.
Another valuable product of the feed-budget review is to ensure that a single medication fed across multiple rations in the nursery or finisher does not exceed the labeled rate in grams/ton or by time fed.
Finishing-feed budgets face their own unique challenges. Here the culprit is often VFD products fed at subtherapeutic levels over several individual rations.
While the antibiotics may not exceed the label use in total, each ration must meet the g/ton threshold for treatment under the VFD. Subtherapeutic use is now considered an off-label use, explained Ethan Spronk, DVM, Eichelberger Farms, Wayland, Iowa, speaking during the webinar.
Producers and veterinarians need to periodically review and assess each farm’s health status to determine which drugs are needed at full label rates and when alternative treatment options including vaccines are advisable.