Reducing Antibiotic Use In Cattle

Why did producers start using antibiotics in cattle for reasons other than treating illness? Troy Wistuba is the director of dairy technical innovation for Land O’ Lakes. He says it was because animals were stressed, and antibiotics were needed to get them over the hump of some sort of management issue. To naturally reduce antibiotic use, we need to identify the management issues that were messed up and fix them.

Wistuba says one of those areas is nutrition, which has a huge impact on the immune system. It starts at the beginning of an animal’s life with colostrum.

"We typically pasteurize colostrum. Most pasteurizers have quite a bit of fluctuation in the heat range that they utilize and because of that increased heat with a pasteurization system, we can get rid of all the antibodies that would be present in that colostrum," says Wistuba. "Land O’ Lakes has worked pretty hard to provide a very good colostrum supplement to our customers that is actually cow-based. We see pretty good cross-reactivity with that with calves that are fed that type of colostrum."

With adult animals, he says they’re focusing on ionophores, which are additives used in cattle diets to increase feed efficiency and body weight gain.

"We are looking at ways to augment ionophore usage. Traditionally we’ve used ionophores to get a 7% or 8% improvement in efficiency from doing that. So, we’re looking at are there other ways to get that same type of efficiency improvement," says Wistuba.