Neo-Terra (NT) Regulations: Where Are We Now?

Posted on November 5, 2012 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus Calf Products Coordinator

More than a year ago, calf raisers were notified that neomycin/oxytetracycline (NT) regulations for calf milk replacers were going to change. As of Oct. 2, 2010, milk replacers and supplements containing the previously-approved levels of NT had to be eliminated from the feed distribution channel and were no longer be available for purchase.
Producers who had used milk replacers with NT for a long time – and in some cases, didn’t remember a time they hadn’t used NT – found themselves facing the question: What do I feed now? To answer that question, many producers have taken a step back and examined the most important things calves need to grow into healthy, productive replacement heifers.
New regulations
The new regulations call for NT to be fed at a 1-to-1 ratio and in proportion to the calf’s body weight. Two levels are approved under the new regulation:
  • 0.05 to 0.1 mg per pound of calf body weight fed continuously for increased rate of weight gain and improved feed efficiency
  • 10 mg per pound of calf body weight allowed to be fed continuously for seven to 14 days for treatment of bacterial enteritis caused by Escherichia coli and bacterial pneumonia caused by Pasteurella multocida
Clearly, the regulation changes affected how antibiotics are fed to calves. The low level should not be fed with the expectation that the product will perform as well as the levels approved under the previous regulation due to the markedly lower feeding rate.
Calf raisers have two options. They can inventory two different milk replacers or utilize a Type B medicated feed (add-pack to be mixed with non-medicated milk replacer) in order to comply with the requirement that the treatment level can only be fed for seven to 14 continuous days.
What did this mean to the producer?
While additives and medications can be very useful under certain circumstances, the basics of raising calves are always the foundation of any calf program. With the NT regulation changes, producers have taken this opportunity to evaluate their calf programs, determine what challenges they are facing with calves and then use the proper tools to overcome those challenges. More producers have placed increased focus on the basics of raising calves, including:
  • Colostrum management: Strive for timely feeding of good-quality colostrum, maintaining clean equipment, proper milking techniques, testing for colostrum quality, and proper cooling and re-heating. Note:  It is recommended to feed calves at least 4 quarts of high-quality colostrum as soon as possible in order to achieve successful passive transfer. If you don’t have high-quality colostrum available, many excellent colostrum replacers are available on the market.
  • Good nutrition: Feeding calves a well-balanced diet of milk and starter is imperative to raising healthy replacements. Remember, each operation is unique, but the goal is relatively uniform: double calves’ birth weight by weaning. Work with your local calf and heifer specialist to help you determine what is the right program for your calves.
  • Clean environment: Take a look at the calf’s environment for the next eight weeks. Is it clean, dry and draft-free? Are the pens set up for easy feeding?  Do you use enough bedding to allow for nesting so the calf can use its energy for growth?
Even though the change in NT regulations has been one of the biggest changes to milk replacers and calf programs in the last decade, many producers will use this as an opportunity to make their calf programs stronger by going back to the basics of successful calf raising.
This story was originally printed in Progressive Dairyman in November 2010.

Category: Animal health
Starting Strong - Calf Care