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|Treatment protocols: Guidelines or the law?|
|El Lechero Dairy Basics - Herd Health|
|Written by Tom Fuhrmann|
|Tuesday, 16 August 2011 00:00|
Good intentions can lead to mistakes. That’s why you need to follow protocols when you treat sick cows. Protocols are not only guidelines to follow; they are the law by which you must live.
While the dairy owner relies upon your experience to make cowside judgments, he or she has a lot invested in expecting you to follow directions.
First, virtually all medicines you use have to be prescribed by a veterinarian. He must use the information supplied by drug manufacturers to direct how each medicine is used. He combines that information with his training and experience to write the rules you are to follow when treating cows. The veterinarian is on your side.
He wants cows to respond to the medicines he prescribes just as much as you do. Trust and follow his directions; then tell your employer or the veterinarian directly if you feel cows do not respond like they should.
Second, protocols are written to eliminate residues from contaminating meat and milk. Changing doses, substituting medicines or extending treatments even by one day can cause a residue problem. Regulators that test milk and meat from cows sent to beef are watching closely for violations.
The dairy owner faces severe penalties if an animal you treated is found with a violative residue. The risk of the penalty is so great that it is not worth the chance that the extra treatment will cure the problem. Just don’t do it and put your employer at risk.
Third, treatment costs become very expensive when medicines are overused. Let me give you two examples of costly mistakes that I see many herdsmen make.
Example 1: Unneeded cost
But if you had used a thermometer to check this cow’s temperature, you would have found the temperature to be normal. Then, on further evaluation, you find the cow is eating, has normal manure and the uterus is shrinking to normal size. This cow does not have metritis … she is simply eliminating contaminant bacteria and caruncular tissue debris from her uterus, a process that occurs normally during the first two weeks after calving.
Even if the discharge has a foul odor, this cow does not need antibiotics. Your initial observation but failed evaluation incorrectly justified overuse of medication that is costly, even though you had the good intention of preventing a problem.
Example 2: $51 in extra cost
So you continue to treat for three more days since you understand the cost of the mastitis tube is only about three dollars. But the cost of treatment is not just the cost of the mastitis tube; it also includes the cost of discarded milk. When we take into account the actual cost of treating the cow three more days is not just the $9 for the extra three tubes; it is $51 when the discarded milk is included in the treatment cost.
Treatment protocols help you, guide you and direct you. If you think they should be different or better, talk to your employer about the changes you think necessary before you change them yourself.
If you feel that some cows would benefit from additional supportive therapy, ask your employer how this can be included in the protocols. He or she will appreciate your suggestions. But treatment protocols are the law; follow them exactly as they are written until you discuss changes with your employer. EL
Dr. Tom Fuhrmann DVM