Medication is used many times in young calves. If administered in the proper way the chances of recovery will increase a lot. But it is not always possible to treat calves with the best drug because of its withdrawal period.
Using drugs for recovery of sick calves is most of the time a good thing to do. It prevents a calf from unnecessary suffering and it will take care of a faster and better recovery. Besides that the chances of spreading a disease will diminish as well.
What happens sometimes is that although the farmer knows that he should try to identify the cause first before starting a treatment, he starts giving antibiotics. The reasoning behind this: there is something wrong with the calf and it needs treatment now.
And that is where the farmer is wrong. It can be harmful if you use drugs without a clearly identified cause. Wrong medication could worsen the condition or be dangerous to the calf. If for instance a calf is having diarrhea caused by a virus, there isn’t one single type of antibiotic that will cure the calf. The only drug that will help somewhat is a pain killer.
Then there is also the chance of pathogens becoming resistant to certain drugs, so medication should only be used if there is a good reason for it. And if drugs are used, the guidelines on the label should be followed. That means, first the proper kind of medication, second the right amount and third the prescribed number of days the medication should last.
It is good to know what the active substances within the drug are. If you do know this you will have a better understanding of what the drug is actually doing in the animal. For instance, is it working against E-coli (a gram negative bacterium), so an antibiotic, or is it a fever-lowering medicine.
Farmers have a responsibility to produce healthy food for the market. This means that drug residues are rightly not allowed in food products. This sometimes also means that you can’t use the best drug available for treating a sick animal.
You have to know what the withdrawal period is for that particular drug. If it is within the period that the animal will be slaughtered you are forced to use an alternative. An example of what might happen if you do not follow the rules, you can find on this website.
So, using drugs to treat and cure calves and other farm animals is a good thing to do, provided it is done the proper way. If you want to have more information on this subject, read my article about calf treatment. Here you will find more tips on the fundamentals of treating a sick calf.
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