Storage and handling ROPs
Assign and train one employee and a backup on the proper protocol for receiving, inventory, storage and handling of pharmaceuticals.
Ensure all drugs are stored appropriately and according to label instructions in terms of light vs. dark, refrigerated vs. in-the-cupboard and so on. In cases where large amounts of stock are kept on hand, locking the cupboard may be advisable.
Avoid freezing drugs. Make sure the temperature of the refrigerator is a consistent 4C. Check this routinely.
Do not expose live vaccines to heat, disinfectants or sunlight.
Use a transfer needle when mixing vaccines. Don’t mix live vaccines too vigorously since it inactivates them.
Mix only enough vaccine at a time to treat small groups of cattle. The effectiveness of live vaccines mixed beyond one hour is questionable.
Label syringes used for vaccines and other pharmaceuticals and keep them separated.
Be careful when handling pharmaceuticals. They are often in glass bottles and if dropped and broken, are very expensive to replace. Clean up spills immediately for the safety of employees.
Ensure unused, spoiled or outdated portions of pharmaceuticals are returned to your veterinarian for proper disposal.
Abide by label instructions. They provide instruction on the storage, dosage, withdrawal periods, disposal and other information.
Create a reference binder to hold all the labels and package inserts of every pharmaceutical used at the feedlot, and have corresponding training sessions with appropriate crew members.
Store feed additive medications in labelled bags or bins and according to label directions. Maintain a binder of all feed tags. Keep the Compendium of Medicated Ingredient Brochures (CMIB) (available from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency) on hand as a reference.
Keep MSDS (safety data sheets) on file; instruct workers on how to use products safely and provide emergency assistance if required.
Key problem indicators
Packers report an excessive number of injection site lesions.
Treatment, relapse, chronic and death rates become excessive.
Drug residues are found in carcasses.
Monitoring dosage ROPs
Post reference tables listing the proper dosage of drugs for different weights where staff can find them. These can also be built into feedlot health computer programs.
Administer drugs according to the label. Do not exceed or decrease dosages or frequency of treatments recommended on the label.
Administer the drugs as instructed on the label.
Adhere to withdrawal periods. In other words, do not give drugs to animals that are going to be shipped to a packer before the meat withdrawal date has passed. One way to avoid problems is to use zero-withdrawal injectable drugs in the last 50 days on feed, allowing for economic considerations. Tag or identify cattle that are treated and still within the withdrawal date when they go for slaughter.
Keep a separate tracking record for cattle that are on hold and waiting for the withdrawal period to expire before they can be shipped.
When feeding medicated rations, sequence feed so finished cattle do not receive any trace of medication from cross contamination in the feed-mixing equipment or truck. If you use feed medications in ways other than as described in the CMIB, obtain written veterinary feed prescriptions and store the scripts with other records. Extended use of vet feed prescriptions is strongly discouraged. Monitor mixing equipment and test feed samples to be sure correct levels of the medications are being applied.
Remove air from multiple-dose syringes before injecting so the correct dosage is given.
Check multi-dose syringes periodically to ensure that the correct dosage is set.
Key indicators of problems
Drug inventory does not coincide with the usage.
Too many injection site lesions.
Excessive relapse, chronic and death rates.
Treatment records reveal extreme variability in the dosages used for different weights of animals.
Disease costs are rising because of excessive treatment rates.
Critical indicator: Severe outbreaks of a specific disease.
The Quality Starts Here manual on Recommended Operating Procedures (ROP) for feedlot animal health offers the following advice on the storage and monitoring of drugs at feedlots.