Prescribing for Farm Animals in Small Animal Practice

Presenter: Pam Mosedale B.Vet.Med. Pam is joint editor of the BSAVA Guide to the Use of  Veterinary Medicines, SQP assessor for AMTRA, Veterinary Investigator for RCVS, and does some small animal locum work

I started listening to last Thursday’s webinar whilst my husband was tidying up around me and after hearing the title he was confused as to why I should be listening to a webinar about prescribing for farm animals – after all I am a small animal vet? He was clearly concerned that I was just trying to shirk household chores but after explaining that pet chickens are becoming increasingly popular and we do still see the odd pet pig and pet emu (yes I did say emu) he was happy and returned to the drudgery of housework.

I, on the other hand, gladly returned to the webinar being led by Pam Mosedale, discussing the pitfalls in prescribing for farm animals. Pam explained that when prescribing for farm animals, EU regulations dictate they must always be considered ‘food producing animals’ even if the owners have no intention of consuming any meat, milk, honey or eggs from their pet. She advised on all the necessary information which needs to be recorded when prescribing for farm animals, including the batch number and withdrawal times of any medicines used. This information must also be made available to the owner so they can fill in their obligatory livestock record book.

Pam also advised that withdrawal times for all licensed products can be found on the VMD website via the  product’s summary of product characteristics (SPC). However, in many cases we will be prescribing under the cascade, and EU regulations dictate that we must only use medicines from a Table of Allowed Substances which can be sourced online. A list of prohibited substances is also available and includes the drugs chloramphenicol and metronidazole. Withdrawal times will obviously not be available when prescribing under the cascade and, under these circumstances, we would need to use cross over from one species for which there is a licensed product to a closely related species for which there is no licensed product. For example, the withdrawal time for a product being given to a goat under the cascade would be taken from the actual withdrawal time cited for that particular product in a sheep for which it is licensed.

The use of Baytril in chickens and the withdrawal time for eggs was a topic which also came up for discussion, particularly as chickens are the food producing animal we see the most in small animal practice. Baytril oral is a product which is contraindicated in poultry, so should we be using this product at all? According to Pam, the VMD states that we can use Baytril under the cascade despite it being contraindicated. However it is our responsibility to work out a sensible withdrawal time for egg consumption according to the reproductive cycle of the chicken. If any problems do occur due to consumption of eggs from chickens treated with Baytril we are, to quote Pam ‘on our own’. After much discussion it was agreed that perhaps the safest route was, if using Baytril, to tell the owner they can no longer eat the eggs at any point from that particular chicken.

Despite my husband’s concerns, this veterinary webinar was very relevant to general practitioners in small animal practice today. With increasing concern over the responsible use of antibiotics/ antimicrobials and working within an increasingly litigious environment means keeping up to speed with all relevant legislation is an absolute must and this webinar delivers exactly what is needed.

The Stethoscope (MRCVS)



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