The raised without antibiotics (RWA) program has gained steam in consumer circles. If part of your farm’s mission is to provide for consumers who are interested in a product raised without antibiotics, the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) has some suggestions for you.
AABP recently released a position statement on the RWA program in order to help vets provide guidance for the farms to meet both the needs of the consumers and of the cattle entrusted to their care.
Firstly, AABP said that documented strategies need to be in place, within the context of a written veterinarian-client-patient relationship, that allow for responsible use of antibiotics when needed.
Secondly, AABP said that responsible RWA programs recognize that some animals will still develop diseases or sustain injuries that require antibiotic treatment.
When this occurs, RWA program farms should also have a planned alternative marketing option for animals that require antibiotics.
The AABP statement further stressed the importance of health and welfare standards as its guiding principle in dealing with all cattle care, including those who choose to raise at least some of their animals without antibiotic support.
So far, this situation has been a common one faced by organic herds and veterinarians who work with them. Animals that get sick and are in need of antibiotic support must receive it, and then there must be a plan in place to market those animals and their products in another way.
“We are committed to animal welfare in all types of systems; the unique situation in the case of RWA programs is that antibiotics are not an available tool if the animal is to stay in the program, which requires some different approaches in how producers and veterinarians plan for and respond to disease challenges,” concluded AABP president Mike Apley, D.V.M.