Life Beyond Neo-Oxy

Milk replacer manufacturers can no longer produce products containing the familiar 2:1 ratio of Neomycin to Oxytetracycline. The old ratio of 2 parts Neomycin to 1 part Oxytetracycline has been replaced with a 1:1 combination of Neo-Oxy. This 1:1 antibiotic combination is restricted to either a very low level for improved feed efficiency and growth or a very high level for treatment of bacterial scours. The new low level can be fed continuously during the milk feeding stage, but the new high level has a feeding restriction of 7-14 days.

These changes make the manufacture of Neo-Oxy medicated milk replacers for treating scours much more limited, less practical and more expensive. Once supplies of milk replacer with the old 2:1 combination are gone, availability of milk replacers with Neo-Oxy will decrease substantially. In light of these changes, most milk replacer distributors and dealers are opting to forgo the use of Neo-Oxy in their milk replacers. Although some have chosen to take advantage of the low inclusion level, the commercial availability of milk replacers containing the treatment level of Neo-Oxy may all but disappear.

Upcoming deadlines (as outlined by FDA)
September 1, 2010: the last day manufacturers can ship finished product containing the old 2:1 combination.
October 2, 2010: all finished products with the old 2:1 Neo-Oxy combination must be cleared from distributor and dealer inventories and must be in the end-user's inventory.

Other sources of Neo-Oxy
All is not lost for Neo-Oxy users, however. Calf raisers will be able to purchase the 1:1 Neo-Oxy combination as a Type B medicated feed which can be added directly to non-medicated milk replacer on the farm to treat calves with scours. This Type B medication is to be added to milk replacer at the treatment level and is limited to a 7-14 day treatment period. Merrick's offers two Type B medicated feed products:

Super Guard -- regular formulation containing the maximum allowable dosage of Neo-Oxy
Super Guard Plus -- same formulation as Super Guard plus the added benefits of Direct Fed Microbials, Kaolin and high levels of vitamins A, D3 and E

Other milk replacer additives
What to do after Neo-Oxy can be a challenging decision. Many calf raisers will simply drop Neo-Oxy and feed a plain, non-medicated milk replacer. Many others will be looking to replace Neo-Oxy in some fashion. Although no other additive has the antibiotic action of Neo-Oxy, there are a number of options to choose from. Some calf raisers may choose another medication, such as Deccox or Bovatec, to provide protection against coccidia, while others may choose from a number of milk replacer additives that are currently available. These additives have different modes of actions, provide different effects, and can be added individually or along with medications.

Transitioning calves from Neo-Oxy milk replacer
Feeding milk replacer that is medicated with Neo-Oxy does have an affect on the population of organisms in the calf's digestive tract. Each antibiotic has a specific mode of action that undoubtedly puts pressures on certain types of organisms. If Neo-Oxy is suddenly removed, so is its influence. This can lead to rapid changes in the relative populations of organisms, and could result, for example, in an increase in organisms that cause scours or those that produce gas, leading to an increased incidence of bloat.

To reduce the likelihood of adverse effects when switching from Neo-Oxy milk replacer, the change should be made gradually -- this is true of any feed change. If possible, calves that have been receiving Neo-Oxy milk replacer should continue on that formula through weaning, with new calves being put directly on the milk replacer without Neo-Oxy. If that is not possible, the Neo-Oxy milk replacer should be blended (co-mingled) with the new milk replacer for a period of time to make the transition more gradual. Even though most calves and most farms should transition OK, a little planning ahead of time can make the change go more smoothly. For those calves that do have problems with the transition, it's important to consider treatment/management protocols ahead of time to help them through the challenges.

How important is Neo-Oxy in calf rearing?
As we move away from the use of Neo-Oxy in animal feeds, here are some interesting bits of research that may just make the transition a little easier.

Transitioning away from the use of antibiotics in milk replacers may prove challenging for some, but by-and-large the transition should not be too difficult. Calf raisers may also find that using other milk replacer additives and medications results in overall improvement in calf health and performance.