Beef producers worry about antibiotic immunity - Jan. 19, 2017
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Dr. Ken Metzger says that fighting challenges like worms and pneumonia in beef is getting more difficult as animals continue to grow more resistant to antibiotics.
Metzger, of Metzger Vet Services and Chesley Vet Services, was the guest speaker at the Jan. 11 annual meeting of the Huron County Beef Producers, which was held at the Brussels Legion. He said that battling disease in cattle is getting scary and, if a solution doesn’t come along in the next 20 years or so, the beef industry could face some dire consequences.
For worm control in beef cattle, he said, ivermectin is becoming less and less effective, but he’s seeing great effectiveness in a product called SafeGuard.
Using five test herds, he said that with ivermectin, effectiveness percentages were between 68 per cent and 94 per cent, where it used to be 98 per cent across the board.
However, when using SafeGuard to battle worms in cattle, he is seeing effectiveness of 100 per cent.
The trends, however, are not promising, as animals build up a resistance to antibiotics and eventually their effectiveness will decline.
He says he’s seeing the same trend with pneumonia in cattle, where several different antibiotic treatments that worked in the past are not nearly as effective now.
He said he was seeing grave losses in herds using Draxxin and suggested using Reflor. However, even when using Reflor, he’s begun seeing losses.
Metzger showed slides representing three herds. One showed 45 per cent of a herd coming into the barn sick and six per cent ending up dead, while in another herd, 31 per cent of the herd was sick and three per cent had died.
In what Metzger called the worst case he’s ever seen, he showed another situation where 70 per cent of the herd showed up sick and 30 per cent ended up dying as a result of pneumonia infections.
“Overall, resistance is low,” he told the farmers.
He said that the answer is to find a new antibiotic. Metzger felt that if a new molecule were to come along, things would be alright. However, if not, producers may be able to continue for the time being, but if nothing comes along in the next 20 years or so, the industry will be in serious trouble.
He did say, however, that if farmers improve their herd management and do the little things, like improving ventilation, the need for antibiotics could be reduced naturally through best practices.
He said that if producers excel at keeping their animals dry and comfortable, the need for antibiotics and pneumonia cases should drop naturally.