Beef producers should be careful to ensure recommended withdrawal times for animal-related medication are followed before selling treated cattle.

“The need to treat infectious ailments such as eye infections or foot rot is not uncommon in the summertime, with treatments often involving the use of antibiotics,” said Bob LeValley, Oklahoma Beef Quality Assurance coordinator with Oklahoma Beef Council and OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

Violations of drug residue regulations can result in expensive fines for the rancher, creating not only a hardship for the individual producer but a black eye for the beef industry.

To help prevent such occurrences, LeValley said it is important for cattle producers to develop and maintain a close working relationship with a large animal veterinarian in their area.

“If a cow to be culled has an infection or disease that must be treated, the animal’s owner should closely follow the veterinarian’s directions, as well as read and follow label directions for the product used,” he said. “Most of these medications will require a producer to keep the treated animal for the label-directed withdrawal time.”

For example, if a medication with a 14-day withdrawal period was last given on Aug. 1, the withdrawal would be completed on Aug. 15 and that would be the earliest the animal could be harvested for human consumption.

All federally approved drugs will include the required withdrawal time for that drug on the product label or package insert. Withdrawal times can range from zero to as many as 60 days or more.

“It’s the producer’s responsibility to be aware of withdrawal times of any drugs used in their operation,” said Dr. Barry Whitworth, OSU Extension veterinarian and food animal quality and health specialist. “Unacceptable levels of drug residues detected in edible tissues collected at harvest may result in trace-back, quarantine and potential fines.”

OSU recommendations are for producers to follow three rules:

• Only use medications approved for cattle and use them exactly as the label directs or as prescribed by the attending veterinarian.

• Do not market animals for food until the withdrawal time listed on the label or until the time prescribed by the attending veterinarian has elapsed.

• Keep well-organized, detailed records of pharmaceutical products given to individually identified animals. Include the date of administration, route of administration, dosage given, lot or serial number of the product given, person delivering the product and the label or prescription listing of withdrawal dates. Records should be kept on file for at least three years after sale of the animal.

Example producer-use records are available online through the national Beef Quality Assurance Manual website.

Online survey

Oklahoma beef cow-calf operators, veterinarians and feedlot operators are urged to take part in an online Oklahoma State University survey focusing on the impact of calving date from time management, economic and animal health standpoints.

“We are integrating information from producers, veterinarians and feedlot operators to get the full picture, which will be helpful information for our beef producers across the state,” said Courtney Bir, OSU Extension agricultural economist and research team member.

The three online surveys — for beef producers, veterinarians and feedlot operators — will be available to potential participants through Sept. 30. Respondents must be 18 years of age or older. Participation is voluntary and responses will be kept anonymous.

Each survey typically takes about 10 minutes to complete, said Amanda Upton, graduate research assistant in the OSU Department of Agricultural Economics.

“The number of questions asked of a participant will vary, according to specific responses,” she said. “The survey design automatically uses responses to categorize who is answering and filter participants to subsequent questions based on their profession.”

Beef cattle are the most profitable agricultural industry in Oklahoma. The OSU researchers said it is important producers continue to advance their operations to stay on the cutting edge of best management practices, and knowledge gained through research is key to that ongoing effort.

Research conducted under the auspices of OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources focuses on real-world issues in accordance with the university’s land-grant mission, said Cheryl DeVuyst, head of the Department of Agricultural Economics.

“Such research not only strengthens affected individuals and industries and the overall state economy, it also helps us train the next generation of researchers who will be so vital in helping people solve issues and concerns of importance to them, their families and their communities,” DeVuyst said. “We have a saying in the division: We measure our successes by how we help others to succeed.”

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Stotts is a communications specialist for Oklahoma State University’s Agricultural Communications Services.

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