Boehringer Ingelheim recognized three dairy producers who demonstrated their commitment to the well-being of animals, consumers and the industry with the judicious use of antibiotics in their Producers for Progress recognition program.
Megan Hickey of Prairieland Dairy in Firth, Nebraska, was chosen as the grand prize winner out of nearly 200 applicants. “I’m honored to be selected as the grand prize winner and advocate for the judicious use of antibiotics,” said Hickey. “As an industry, we need to do things better because our consumers are demanding it. If we don't listen to what consumers want, then we're not going to have a market for our product. We have to focus on preventive medicine and health.”
Because of the increased scrutiny from consumers, Hickey encourages all dairy producers to take a look at their antibiotic use to see where they can make improvements. “I personally believe in judicious use of antibiotics, from the cow's standpoint and animal care standpoint,” she explained. “For the past four years, our operation has been very tuned in to using antibiotics only where they are needed. This means a cow does not get an antibiotic unless she is clinically diagnosed with a fever or a Gram-positive culture. We strive to treat every animal case-by-case and use little-to-no blanket mastitis treatment.”
The first-place winner, Becky Czarnezki of Miltrim Farms Inc. in Athens, Wisconsin, explained that her operation focuses on prevention to help reduce their antibiotic use. “Prevention is key,” she said. “We focus on finding the cause of illnesses in our cows to prevent them from happening.” When they have to treat, she said communication and good records help to hold them accountable. “If any treatments are given it is vital to ensure label usage and the proper milk withhold are being followed.”
Emily Gigandet of Envision Dairy LLC in Amsterdam, New York, is the second-place winner. Gigandet believes that reducing antibiotic use on the farm is a smart financial decision and moral obligation. “We work very closely with our team of veterinarians to adjust our treatment protocols and make sure they are as relevant and up-to-date as possible,” she explained. “We also pay close attention to our cow-side exam and diagnosis to ensure we are treating accordingly.”
Like most dairy producers, mastitis is Gigandet’s worst enemy. “Prevention is our best tool for mastitis, so proper vaccination is very important to us, along with cleanliness, routine maintenance and employee training.”
The perks of being a producer for progress? All applicants received a hooded sweatshirt for participating. Plus, Hickey will receive a John Deere Gator™ Basic Package XUV625i 4x4; Czarnezki will receive five pairs of Bogs® Rancher boots; and Gigandet will receive 10 Udder Tech® milking aprons for her team.
Each producer will also receive $250 to donate to the charity or nonprofit organization of their choice.
Hickey will be donating the money to the nonprofit organization Love in Action International Ministries, which built an orphanage in Guayaramerín, Bolivia. Hickey traveled to the orphanage in late September and is passionate about its goals.
“They are trying to make the orphanage self-sufficient,” explained Hickey. “They can't drink any of the water there, so plans are in place to build a processing plant and dairy farm where they can bottle milk and water. The goal will be to build a small store in town to where they can sell the products to make the orphanage profitable.”
The new Producers for Progress recognition program was announced in July as part of BI’s pledge to help protect the future of the industry. “Antibiotics are important to the well-being of cattle, but we have a responsibility to use them at the right time, at the proper dosage, for the appropriate length of time, and with veterinary oversight,” said Dr. Craig Jones, director, cattle professional services for BI. “We are excited to salute these producers who have demonstrated a significant commitment to these practices.”
The program was targeted to customers of BI mastitis treatment products, and applicants were asked to answer questions about their preventive management practices, their views on judicious use of antibiotics, and to describe their mastitis treatment protocols. Applicant names and operations were anonymous and judging was based on the following selection criteria:
- Demonstrated understanding of and passion for judicious use of antibiotics
- Commitment to animal well-being
Judges for the program included Dr. Sandra Godden, DVM, University of Minnesota; Dr. Patrick Gorden, DVM, Iowa State University; Dr. Linda Tikofsky, DVM, BI; and Dr. Craig Jones, DVM, BI.
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