5 Guiding Principles For Using Metaphylaxis In Cattle
Animal health remains on the forefront of cattle-feeding profitability, says Tom Latta, DVM and feedyard consultant, Spearman, Texas. However, many feedlot managers do not have adequate data to make mass-treatment decisions based on economics. He says most make some risk assessments before cattle arrive, based on their source, travel distance and other factors, then they observe cattle off the truck to make a final decision on mass treatment.
In evaluating metaphylaxis programs, Latta stresses the importance of observing the post-metaphylaxis interval (PMI) or post-treatment interval (PTI), especially with today’s longer-acting antibiotics. Delaying additional treatments through a pre-determined PMI allows the program to work and provides objective data with which to measure success.
In addition to economics, bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is an animal-welfare issue, and Latta encourages veterinarians to advocate for the animals and communicate to managers the need to consider animal well-being in mass-treatment decisions. Latta references a case in which a feedlot operator decided to cut production costs by using metaphylaxis less frequently and using lower-priced antibiotics. The system worked for a while, but with the arrival of changeable fall weather and the run of higher-risk calves, costly outbreaks occurred. This suggests that with planning and adequate records, feedyards can adjust mass-treatment protocols somewhat based on risk levels, but too much cost cutting in this area could lead to much greater expenses down the road.
Latta, who spoke on the topic of metaphylaxis during the 2019 American Association of Bovine Practitioners national conference, recommends these five guiding principles for veterinarians using metaphylaxis in cattle:
1. The veterinarian is the patient’s advocate, maybe the only one.
2. Typical cattle-procurement processes are not health friendly.
3. Don’t mess up adrenal gland health by stacking stressors.
4. Don’t neglect the gut.
5. In newly arrived cattle, antibiotics are just one factor influencing animal health. Consultants also should consider the history of cattle, their condition on arrival, their number and weight and owner preferences.
“Use metaphylaxis as a tool, not a crutch,” Latta says.