Residue Risk: A Pro-Active Approach

Written by: Dan Ellsworth, ANIMART President

As you may recall, the FDA started a milk residue testing program in January 2012.  As I sit down to write this article, the results have yet to be published and the potential implications for your farm remain unknown.  Regardless of the delay, many good things have occurred from the FDA’s actions.  PDPW and WVMA together are introducing their hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) program.  There is an increased awareness of the entire Veterinary Community to residue risks, generating more discussions around proper application of medications.  Here at ANIMART we are making this a priority discussion during on-farm visits and provide specific programs to minimize the likelihood of a residue occurring on your farm.

From discussions with industry leaders, producers and internally, we see the key to addressing any residue is the unbiased oversight of treatments by veterinary professionals which lead to the facilitation of proper medication use by your farm employees.  As you consider this statement, here are some items which may help this become a reality for your operation.

We de-emphasize direct financial incentive for our team of veterinarians based on your purchases of product.  Our veterinary staff is paid on salary and they do not gain financially if you purchase more product.  Frankly, they have told me their best day with a client is when they see herd health going up and the medication bills coming down. 

We limit access to medications through strict consumption budgets and provide reports of use to you and/or your herdsman.  These budgets are based on disease incidence of your farm.  As your operation works their way through the budgeted amount of product, usage is tracked.  This level of monitoring allows you to better manage the on-farm use of products identifying where there may be overuse or financial losses due to inventory shrink.

We facilitate proper and accurate on-farm record keeping.  You have access to herd health forms, customized staff training, medication consumption reports, animal treatment SOPs, material data safety sheets for on-farm files and medical treatment records.  Record keeping is a big part of your efforts in limiting the risks around residues; we’re here to help.

We limit reliance on extra-label strategies.  With the broad range of approved products, the pharmaceutical companies are doing a good job in providing you products for the majority of the diseases we see impacting an animal’s health.  When the rare occasion does occur, where an extra-label strategy must come into use, we help you implement a strict process to follow.  These directions are in alignment with all laws and accepted practices with you and the animal’s best interest in mind. 

We provide treatment protocols in written form for your farm.  These protocols are focused on a specific medication directed to a specific disease for a specific animal class or individual animal.  In addition, because we know employee management is one of your biggest challenges, we can provide these to you in both English and Spanish.

We suggest 3rd party veterinarians write independent prescriptions for you to fulfill at your animal health supplier of choice.  This takes out any concerns around conflicts of interest or financial incentive for them and increases competition, improving prices for you.  It is also important for this veterinarian to receive the consumption reports provided by ANIMART or your other supplier of choice so they can function as an unbiased monitor of product use on your farm.

We believe collaboration with other veterinarians who serve your farm is important.  We proactively reach out to other herd veterinarians, pharmaceutical technical service veterinarians, university veterinarians and any specialty consultant veterinarians you may use, to address specific on-farm health needs.  A team of veterinarians working for you will provide more robust solutions when they are all communicating effectively; we seek to be a catalyst for those conversations.

We provide a residue risk assessment program.  Conducted by one of our veterinarians, they will spend detailed time reviewing your current operations and speaking with your key employees.  After which, they will develop a detailed report outlining where residue risks may exist on your farm.  Thus, from their initial assessment and discussion with you, they will assist your operation in developing SOPs.

We seek to help you create an environment where the unbiased oversight of treatments by a veterinary professional will lead to the facilitation of proper medication use by farm employees limiting the risk of medication residues.  Our veterinary team is here to assist your farm in providing nutritious and safe dairy products to consumers here in Wisconsin and worldwide.