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Feed A Total Mixed Ration
Saber starts his heifers on a total mixed ration at six
months old. The animals are fed a 19 percent protein ration
made up of around 85 percent forages. The forages are a
mixture of com silage, barleyage, and baled grass hay from
Don’t Have Too Many Different Sources For Calves
Saber cautions against having many different suppliers
bringing calves into a heifer facility. “If one farmer is bring
ing in sick calves, then the entire herd is subceptible to get
ting sick,” said Saber.
Saber encourages custom heifer raisers to screen custom
Maintain A Good Vaccination Program
All animals coming into Saber’s operation are vaccinated
with a four-once vaccine. Then they are given a booster after
14 days. The heifers are also given an annual nine-way vac
“We only get the vet to do pregnancy checks and give
brucellosis shots,” said Saber. “All of the other responsibili
ties are handled by my employee Joe Cooley and me.”
Dr. Karen Martin and David Vore, APHI
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Region V Office
What is a drug residue?
If antibiotics or drugs are found in animal carcasses at
slaughter, they are called drug residues. Meat from these
animals is considered to be adulterated or contaminated. It
is illegal to sell a medicated animal if you think that it has
drugs in its body.
Why can’t small amounts of antibiotics and drugs be in the
There are two main reasons that antibiotics and drugs are
not permitted in meat intended for human food. 1) People
who are allergic to certain drugs can become seriously
ill-some even die-from eating meat containing these resi
dues. 2) Eating meat contaminated with low levels of antibi
otics causes bacteria to become resistant to the antibiotic.
This means that the antibiotic will no longer kill the bac
teria. There are only a limited number of antibiotics avail
able. If bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, we will no
longer be able to cure bacterial diseases.
In addition to these reasons, there are economic reasons
to keep drug residues out of American meats. Other coun
tries want to eliminate American competition for overseas
markets. They claim that too much of our meat contains
drugs This reduces the number of markets for American
meat, results in oversupply and lowers meat prices.
How does a drug residue occur?
Most residues occur because the directions on the label
have been ignored. The amount of drug to be given, the
route by which it is to be given, and directions on how often
to give the drug are in the instructions on the label. A with
holding or withdrawal time is always specified. This indi
cates the number of days it should take for the drug to be
Drug Residue Avoidance
Don’t Depend On Calving Ease Bulls
Saber breeds his heifers at 15 months so that they are
large enough to handle delivering a large calf.
“I don’t believe in calving ease bulls,” said Saber. “We
make sure our calves are big enough to handle full-size
In Saber’s lease agreement, he is responsible for replacing
a cow if she has calving problems or an immediate problem
after arriving at the farm. The dairy farmer is responsible
for replacing the animal if she gets mastitis or another ill
ness one or two years into the contract.
Saber is both an active and founding member of the Pro
fessional Dairy Heifer Growers Association. The Interna
tional group brings people from around the world into
annual meetings to discuss heifer raising. Professional vet
erinarians also give presentations about proper nutrition,
housing, and vaccination programs for heifers.
Saber traveled to St. Louis, Missouri, to the National con
ference in the end of March. Around 300 people attended
the conference to get the latest information on proper heifer
raising practices. Saber is also part of the committee plan
ning the Northeast conference in November.
eliminated from the animal’s body.
If you give too much, or too often, or don’t wait long
enough, drugs pay be present in the meat. If an animal is
very sick, the published withholding time may be inade
quate. Sick animals often do not eliminate drugs normally.
Even when withholding time is observed, the animal may
have detectable drugs at slaughter. It is best to use some
kind of screening test for drugs prior to marketing a medi
What happens when a drug residue is discovered?
When the USDA discovers a violation, the person who of
fered the animal for sale is identified and notified by certi
fied letter. The state Department of Agriculture is also
notified. For most first offenders the Bureau of Animal
Health investigates the drug residue. The veterinarian in the
regional office of the Animal and Poultry Health Inspector
call the owner and arrange for an investigation. They try to
discover what caused the residue. Their findings are re
ported to the FDA. The next 5 animals that are sent to
slaughter from that farm are tested for drug residues. If a
second offense occurs within a year, or if the amount of drug
discovered is very large, the FDA investigates these viola
tions themselves. FDA investigations can result in seizure of
animals, injunctions against selling animals, or prosecution
with subsequent fines and imprisonment.
How can drug residues be avoided?
Most violative residues occur because of failure to follow
label directions and poor record keeping. Animals need to
be securely identified so that confusion does not occur. Read
and follow label instructions on any drug you use. Observe
slaughter withholding times and consider testing the ani
mals for drugs yourself before you send them to market.