Weight guessing game
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Don’t Play the Weight guessing Game

June 28, 2018
POSTED BY: Richard Wallace | DVM, MS | Managing Veterinarian | Dairy Technical Services | Zoetis

Commonly, dairies determine antibiotic dosage based on visual estimates of weight for large and small cows. Generally speaking, a large cow is a large cow; however, this practice of “eyeballing” presents a big risk in under- or overdosing of antibiotics, as doses vary greatly given differences in body weight. For example, recommended antibiotic dosage differs for a 1,500-pound cow versus an 1,800-pound cow.

The impact of under- and overdosing antibiotics:

Without capturing accurate, individual body weights, cattle may be underdosed, which can decrease antibiotic efficacy or create poor response to treatment. This can result in increased treatment and labor costs due to disease relapse. Even more, dairies may be at increased risk for residues if other antibiotics are introduced and Federal Drug Administration-mandated withdrawal times aren’t followed. On the other hand, overdosing cows with antibiotics increases risk of violative residues in milk and meat and increases treatment costs, as more product than needed is being used. Keep in mind that overdosing isn’t just administering too much of a product — cows also can be overdosed based on volume of antibiotic administered per injection site.

What can you do?

  • Stop guessing.
  • Capture individual weights with a weight tape or digital cattle scale.
  • Weigh cows at freshening, one to two weeks post-freshening and at dry off to monitor for weight fluctuations that could indicate potential metabolic issues that may require treatment.
  • Follow product labels.

Accurate body weight data allows for more accurate antibiotic dosing, which can result in improved treatment efficacy and prevention of residues in milk and meat.

EXCEDE®: Treat metritis with two shots and zero milk withdrawal

Work with your herd veterinarian and local Zoetis territory business manager to have a discussion on how to build a more strategic plan on proper dosing of antibiotics.


IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: People with known hypersensitivity to penicillin or cephalosporins should avoid exposure to EXCEDE. EXCEDE is contraindicated in animals with known allergy to ceftiofur or to the ß-lactam group (penicillins and cephalosporins) of antimicrobials. Inadvertent intra-arterial injection is possible and fatal. Do not use in calves to be processed for veal. Pre-slaughter withdrawal time is 13 days following the last dose. See full Prescribing Information.



  • Avoid rejections with proper injections
  • Make your veterinarian part of your team
  • Carefully follow and understand label directions


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