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Ask a Vet: Residue risk management

Armon Hetzel for Progressive Dairy Published on 19 July 2020
Milk truck

Drug residues in meat and milk are closely monitored by the FDA. If you have a violation, the following actions can be taken against your dairy:

  • Fined for the tanker load of milk
  • Milk pickups suspended
  • Grade A permits suspended
  • Cut off from shipping animals for meat
  • FDA record investigation
  • Continuous monitoring and inspection

By working to reduce drug residue violations, we can also increase consumer confidence in meat and dairy products.



Top reasons for residue violations


  • Not diverting the pipeline from bulk tank for hospital or treated cows

  • Purchasing treated cows which were milked into bulk tank

  • Using drugs for extra-label treatment and shipping milk too soon

  • Fresh cow milk containing residues from dry cow treatment

  • Misreading a “zero meat, zero milk withdrawal” label claim


  • Improper withdrawal times for mastitis and dry treatments

  • Changing dose or route for antibiotics

  • Calves marketed for veal consumed colostrum or medicated milk replacer

  • Administering antibiotics incorrectly

  • Improper withdrawal for cows treated with uterine boluses or infusions

  • Using drugs for extra-label treatments

Four steps to manage the risk in your herd

1. Determine your risk

  • Do you use antibiotics on your dairy?

o Ceftiofur

o Enrofloxacin


o Flunixin

o Nuflor

o Penicillin

o Sulfadimethoxine

  • Have you ever used a dry tube on a lactating cow?

  • Does your farm ever use drugs in a way not specifically stated on the label?

  • Do you have employees who need more training on disease identification?

  • Have you ever treated an animal without recording it?

  • Do you ship cull cows or calves without IDs and records?

  • Do you believe a negative on-farm test will prevent a meat or milk residue violation?

  • Has your farm ever had a residue violation?

  • Would a visit by a regulatory official be concerning?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your herd could be at risk for a residue violation.

2. On-farm visit: Have your herd vet or consultant identify red flags and perform an evaluation.


3. Risk management: After analyzing your situation, develop action plans to address high-risk areas.

4. Follow-up: Schedule follow-up visits with your herd vet or consultant to aid in implementing your risk management strategy and reduce procedural deviation.

Reach out to a veterinarian to learn how we can help you manage your residue risk.  end mark

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Armon Hetzel
  • Armon Hetzel

  • Professional Services Veterinarian
  • Armor Animal Health/li>
  • Email Armon Hetzel