Are you ready for Dec. 1 antibiotic prescription changes?

Not all cattle producers are ready for major changes to how they buy antibiotics.

Starting Dec. 1, all livestock producers will need a prescription from a licensed veterinarian before they can buy antibiotics for use in livestock production.

In an effort to ward off antimicrobial resistance, Canadian livestock producers now need a prescription from a licensed vet to buy antibiotics for their herds. Are you ready?

“What this change should ensure is that the right antibiotic is given for the right disease or condition, which should help maintain their effectiveness for longer,” says Karin Schmid, beef production specialist with Alberta Beef Producers.

A framework to tackle antimicrobial resistance was released in 2014, a follow-up in 2015, and amendment details provided in 2017.

Cattle producers must have a valid Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship - or VCPR - established with their vet to obtain a prescription, explains Brady Stadnicki, policy analyst with Canadian Cattlemen's Association.

Farmers without VCPR

He adds it’s likely there are still producers without a valid VCPR.

Cedric MacLeod, New Brunswick Cattle Producers’ coordinator of strategic opportunities, says the province's dairy industry is ready for the Dec. 1 changes, but estimates 50 per cent of cow/calf producers aren’t.

For them, an onsite visit by a vet will be required to obtain a prescription, he says, and wonders if some may have stocked up on antibiotics in preparation of the changes.

Day-to-day changes

For producers who already have a VCPR, there likely won’t be any changes in their normal practices, Stadnicki says.

Some pre-planning, though, will be required between producers and vets, ideally before antibiotics may be required, Schmid says.

“Ensure that there is a herd health plan in place, and that the necessary prescriptions are created and placed on file to be filled as necessary,” Schmid says.

With these procedures in place, there ought to be limited impact on animal health and welfare, Schmid says.


But in cases where a prescription isn’t on file, producers may experience difficulties obtaining timely and affordable access to antibiotics necessary, she adds.

Distance to a producer’s vet also remains a challenge in some areas, Stadnicki says.

“In some provinces, travel incentives and use of technology are being evaluated as potential solutions to this challenge,” he says.

Depending on the province, producers can access antibiotics dispensed at any vet clinic or feed mill as long as they have a valid prescription from the vet with whom they have a VCPR, Stadnicki says.

Bottom line

With new antibiotic purchase restrictions in place to fight antimicrobial resistance, producers without a Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship are strongly urged to develop one to limit impact on their animals’ health and welfare.

Article by: Richard Kamchen