To get the most out of today’s antimicrobial treatments, it pays to reevaluate traditional treatment programs.

For the most part, today’s workforce was brought up with an older class of antimicrobial treatment options, says Lee Bob Harper, DVM, Pfizer Animal Health. Traditionally, at 24 to 48 hours after the first treatment, the animal was re-treated if there were no signs of improvement. Today’s options allow for a longer post-treatment interval (PTI) period, the amount of time to confidently wait before considering an animal a nonresponder following the first treatment for bovine respiratory disease (BRD).

During the PTI, the treatment will stay in the animal’s system and provide effective levels of medication against a disease challenge. Meaning there is often no need to pull and re-treat as we once would.

Operations have several ways to update management practices to keep pace with technology. First, it’s important to accurately identify calves that have received a treatment, either by ID number of physical description. Next, when a pen rider would traditionally re-treat, encourage him instead to move that animal into a “TLC” pen that has less competition for feed, plenty of hay, shade and fresh water. The extra care can be of more benefit than an additional antimicrobial treatment.

Finally, if there is a death, implement a postmortem examination that includes the entire team responsible for the animal’s care. This ensures the team understands the true causes of loss. Most often, postmortem exams reveal cases of pneumonia that were too extensive to cure with additional treatment or, alternately, causes of death other than BRD.

It can be hard to look at a sick calf and not provide treatment. Just because we’re not pulling and treating doesn’t mean an antimicrobial product isn’t working. Changing this mindset is important to maximizing an operation’s return on investment. Work with your producers to find a product that works best for their operation.