A prudent approach to antibiotic treatment of high-risk calves at arrival to a dairy beef facility
Keywords:dairy cattle, beef cattle, veal calves, calf welfare, economic sustainability, morbidity, mortality, antimicrobial therapy, bacterial antimicrobial resistance, AMR, antimicrobial use, AMU, selective antimicrobial therapy
The veal and dairy beef industries experience high levels of morbidity and mortality during the growing period impacting calf welfare and economic sustainability. A large proportion of calves arrive into these industries with identifiable health abnormalities and, in consequence, calves are at highest risk of mortality in their first few weeks after arrival. A conventional method for addressing this high-risk period is the use of group antimicrobial therapy during their first week in the facility. However, in light of growing concerns for the development of bacterial antimicrobial resistance (AMR), targeted strategies for antimicrobial use (AMU) in this high-risk period are being investigated. Selective antimicrobial treatment of only those calves identified as high risk can be used to reduce overall AMU and therefore reduce the selective pressures that confer AMR. The objective of this study was to compare morbidity and mortality for calves in the first 2 weeks at a dairy beef facility between groups receiving conventional group antimicrobial therapy (CT) and those receiving selective antimicrobial therapy (ST) at arrival.