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J Dairy Sci. 2005 Aug;88(8):2991-9.

A survey on antibiotic usage in dairy herds in Pennsylvania.

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Department of Veterinary Science, Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802, USA.


A survey was conducted (July 2001 to June 2002) on antibiotic usage of 113 dairy herds from 13 counties in Pennsylvania. Fifty percent of dairy farms surveyed maintained antibiotic treatment records. Only 21% of dairy producers had written plans for treating sick animals. Thirty-two percent of dairy producers sought veterinarian advice before administering antibiotics and on most farms (93%), antibiotics were administered by the owner/manager or designated herdsman. Twenty-four percent of the dairy producers said they always completed the course of antibiotic treatment. Any extra-label use of antibiotics was administered only on the guidelines of a veterinarian on majority of the farms. Comprehensive records from 33 dairy farms indicated that antibiotic usage was largest for calves with enteritis (36%) followed by pneumonia in calves (25%) and foot rot in cattle (16%). Twenty-four antibiotics including beta-lactams, spectinomycin, florfenicol, and tetracyclines were used on these farms. Beta-lactam antibiotics were used mostly for dry cow therapy, clinical mastitis, and on some farms for pneumonia and metritis. On 18% of the dairy herds surveyed, ceftiofur was used in an extra-label manner to treat mastitis in lactating cattle. On 70% of farms, calves were fed medicated milk replacers containing oxytetracycline and neomycin. The results of this study suggest that antibiotics are used extensively on dairy herds for both therapeutic and prophylactic purposes. Beta-lactams and tetracyclines were the most widely used antibiotics. There is considerable variation in the management practices associated with antibiotic use on dairy farms. It is anticipated that the findings of this survey will permit developing new strategies for prudent use of antibiotics on dairy herds.

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