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A war of words over upcoming changes in veterinary rules has escalated. The Veterinary Representative said that distance prescribing antimicrobials leads to rash and excessive use, often a blanket approach, and rarely to follow-up on use and treatment success.
According to Veterinary Ireland, the current unrestricted sales of antiparasitic drugs are not sustainable.
Farmers fear that if the EU’s new veterinary drug regulations come into force next year, they may incur higher costs and lose key service providers such as licensed dealers and veterinary pharmacies.
Agriculture Secretary Charlie McConalogue says his department’s impact assessment of EU regulations is ongoing.
The department says Ireland can no longer use the exemption to allow anyone other than registered veterinarians to issue veterinary prescriptions, but has sought further legal advice from the Attorney General’s office.
The minister said last week that all stakeholders, including licensed distributors who are currently able to sell veterinary medicines, can do so after new regulations come into effect next January, but antiparasitic drugs (worm and random doses, etc.) need a veterinary prescription before doing so can be sold.
Dairy cooperatives have asked the department to recognize the positive role they can play in finalizing the new legislation on veterinary medicines.
John O’Gorman, chair of the ICOS dairy committee, said they wanted a holistic approach to herd health planning backed by data-driven prescribing for intramammary tubing and cooperative herd health plans for other veterinary drugs.
“As a food processor, the dairy cooperative sector has a vested interest in ensuring that veterinary medicinal products are used responsibly in full compliance with legal requirements and best practices.”
In a presentation to a Joint Committee on Agriculture and the Marine Debate on the Regulation of Veterinary Medicinal Products, Finbarr Murphy, Chief Executive of Veterinary Ireland, said the dairy cooperatives’ mastitis control programs were “a mockery of prudent prescribing.”
“As an exporting nation, it is foolhardy to adhere to such a loose system of antibiotic supply that cannot be compared in any other Member State.”
Committee chairman Jackie Cahill TD cited angry response from some members to Veterinary Ireland’s testimony.
He said: “I firmly believe that a farmer will only use an antibiotic when it is absolutely necessary.
“Of course I would say that this has to be done under veterinary supervision, but to find out that we can financially get a veterinarian for every animal that is sick on the farm, this cannot work in practice.”
Michael Fitzmaurice, TD, said: “Northern Irish farmers are trusted to give antiparasitic drugs to their cattle.
“From what Veterinary Ireland said, is the thought that the farmer here isn’t as keen as the farmer in Northern Ireland?”
Senator Tim Lombard said, “One of the problems I’ve heard is that we have to look at the dates when the dosing will take place and the weights and amounts per animal.
“Will we have a vet on the farm who tells us that an animal weighs 600 kg?”
Conor Geraghty, President of Veterinary Ireland, told the Agriculture Committee that one of the most important changes in the new legislation was: “We can no longer rely on antibiotics for prevention. We can only use it on sick animals. “
Hence practices like blanket dry cow therapy; Treatment of purchased animals in the event that they develop pneumonia; Using CTC Powder for Calves That May Cough; or general treatment of the watery mouth in lambs during birth is no longer permitted.
Mr Geraghty said there will be restrictions on critically important antibiotics.
Cooperatives fear economic losses and the undermining of their branch network if antiparasitic drugs are produced “only on prescription”.
The new legislation may also jeopardize the existing recognition of cooperative mastitis control programs as a structure in which a veterinarian can adequately assess dairy cows’ treatment needs in terms of intramammary remedial measures.
According to ICOS, these programs have resulted in significant drops in sales of dry cow hoses, a trend toward selective dry cow therapy, and many cooperatives banning the use of critically important antibiotics.
“We accept that significant changes will be required in the mechanics of dry cow tube prescribing, with the likely need to switch to 100% milk record in order to obtain a dry cow prescription,” said an ICOS spokesman.
Veterinary experts have said that new regulations will not necessarily increase costs for farmers.
The Agriculture Committee was advised by Catherine McAloon of the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine that the general objectives of the new regulations are to reduce the use of antimicrobials and make them more prudent through coordinated efforts to improve milk quality and reduce the need for antimicrobials To pass over use.
She said mastitis is a very costly disease on farms, and reducing it and the need for antimicrobials would provide a cost benefit in the long run.
Animal Health Ireland’s Finola McCoy told the committee that improving milk quality will bring financial benefits.
She said blanket cow dehydration therapy is no longer acceptable under new regulations, but farmers who have successfully moved away from blanket cow therapy are all extremely happy for a variety of reasons including cost savings, ease of use and reduced stress on the Manage their flocks the following spring.
Tadhg Gavin, spokesman for Veterinary Ireland Food-Animal, told the committee that one of the main reasons for changing antiparasitic rules is to develop resistance, where drugs traditionally used in grazing animals cease to work against parasites.
This natural occurrence is due to excessive drug use and misuse.
Because of drug resistance, some businesses are limited in the effectiveness of drugs, which increases costs as they are often limited to the newer drugs.
“The level of production that they can achieve is reduced, and the efficiency of feed conversion is reduced, and the animals do not thrive,” he added.
“Animals that cannot thrive are a major cost factor for farms. We counter this problem by using the right dose at the right time and when needed. “