OSU Extension helps ranchers follow strict new antibiotic rules

Sergio Arispe, associate professor and Extension livestock and rangeland specialist in Malheur County, meets with a rancher to talk about cattle.

Antibiotics are an effective weapon against bacterial disease. But because they’re used widely in both animals and humans, some bacteria have evolved into deadly, drug-resistant super-strains. About two million people in the United States are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A 2017 federal rule significantly restricted the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture. The rule is the latest and toughest in a series of FDA regulations promoting “judicious use” of antibiotics under the 1996 Animal Drug Availability Act.

“This rule fundamentally changed the way feed-grade antibiotics are labeled and used in livestock operations,” said Sergio Arispe, associate professor and Extension livestock and rangeland specialist in Malheur County and lead author of the free Extension publication The Veterinary Feed Directive: Questions and Answers for Oregon Livestock Producers.

The publicationdetails the drug restrictions and helps livestock operators understand and comply with the record-keeping rules. Most important, Arispe said, it guides them in forming an effective, ongoing therapeutic relationship with a veterinarian.

“That’s the biggest change of this rule: it spells out what a working veterinarian-client-patient relationship looks like,” Arispe said. “This is something we’ve always encouraged on our livestock producers – the importance of building a relationship with your veterinarian, so he or she is truly part of your management team.”

In 2019, cattle and calves represented Oregon’s third-highest-value agricultural commodity, generating $625 million from cash receipts.

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