Veterinary drug administration in German veal calves : an exploratory study on retrospective data
The aim of this cross-sectional study was to characterise the usage of antibiotic and non-antibiotic drugs with a withdrawal period in German veal calves in more detail. In Germany, the documentation of the usage of veterinary medicinal products in food producing animals is mandatory. In the German monitoring system antibiotic use in calves under the age of eight months is recorded irrespective of the production type and only some basic measures (50 % and 75 % percentiles of the entire distributions of the treatment frequencies) are published regularly. Within this study 57 farms were included contributing data of 169 veal calf groups with a total of 91,196 individual calves. To assess the drug use the treatment frequency (TF) was calculated. Most treatments were applied in the first weeks after arrival at the farm against respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders, accounting for 65.2 % and 28.6 % of the TF, respectively. Antibiotics account for 91 % of the TF. The antibiotics used most frequently were tetracyclines (35.6 %), beta-lactams (21.9 %), macrolides (12.7 %), sulphonamides (6.0 %) and trimethoprimes (5.3 %). Tetracyclines and polypeptides were administered as group treatments in more than half of the recorded applications. The number of antibiotic group treatments decreased considerably from the first to the second half of the fattening period. Logistic regression analyses revealed no statistically significant association between TF and groups size or mortality. Nevertheless, the results indicate a negative associated between TF and mortality. Concerning non-antibiotics mainly iron compounds, arylpropionic acids, mucolytics and avermectines were applied, accounting for about 5 % of the total TF. The present study provides basic data on antibiotic and non-antibiotic use in German veal calf production.