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What is the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD)?

The FDA has changed the guidelines regarding antibiotics in feed or water to take effect in January 2017.

Under the new ruling:
  • All antibiotics labeled to go into feed or water will no longer be over the counter and will fall under veterinary oversight. Antibiotics labeled to go into the water will require a prescription, while antibiotics that go into the feed will require a VFD.
  • A prescription will remain valid for 1 year. A VFD will be applicable for 6 months and has to be written by a veterinarian.
  • A feed mill will need a VFD in order to sell feed-grade antibiotics or medicated feeds. Additionally, all growth promotion labels will be removed and any such use will not be allowed. An antibiotic is considered a growth promotant if it is fed at a low dose for an extended period of time. Any extra label use of a feed-grade antibiotic is illegal, so all usage will be restricted to the label directions for treatment or control of specific diseases for a limited duration.

How will change impact Producers?

Antibiotics such as Aureomycin Crumbles and medicated milk replacers that contain neomycin or tetracycline will require a VFD in order to purchase them after December 31, 2016. VFDs will not apply to products with coccidiostats. If you wish to use these products, your veterinarian will have to determine if there is a definite need for them.

  • As an example: if incoming cattle frequently become ill upon arrival, a veterinarian could write a VFD for inclusion of tetracycline in the feed for a short period of time to prevent pneumonia. Once a vet writes a VFD, a feed mill could sell the requested antibiotic or add it to the feed.
  • However, if the cattle are healthy and there has been no history of disease, a veterinarian could not write a VFD and a feed-grade antibiotic could not be purchased.
  • Medicated feeds currently labeled “for increased feed efficiency or weight gain” will no longer bear these claims. This does not include feeds with coccidiostats such as rumensin, monensin, lasalocid, Corid™, Bovatec or deccox as these are not antibiotics.
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