The Food and Drug Administration’s Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) will take affect on Jan, 1, 2017; are you ready?
A VFD drug is defined as a drug intended for use in or on animal feed that is limited to use under the professional supervision of a licensed veterinarians. The guidelines for this ruling were created in 1996, but will not be put into practice by the FDA until 2017.
According to the FDA, the VFD final rule outlines the process for authorizing use of VFD drugs (animal drugs intended for use in or on animal feed that require the supervision of a licensed veterinarian) and provides all veterinarians in all states with a framework for authorizing the use of “medically important” antimicrobials in feed, when needed for specific animal health purposes.
VFD final rule continues to require veterinarians to issue all VFDs within the context of a veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR), and specifies the key elements that define a VCPR. Once fully implemented, it will be illegal to use these medically important antibiotics for production purposes, and animal producers will need to obtain authorization from a licensed veterinarian to use them for prevention, control or treatment of a specifically identified disease.
University of Missouri Extension Regional Livestock Specialist Andy McCorkill told Ozarks Farm & Neighbor, that he didn’t think many producers have taken any out-of-the-ordinary steps in preparation for the new rule.
“The most critical point of the process is to develop a good relationship with a veterinarian who you will work with,” he said. “For those who already have the vet work their calves for them, preg check cows and the like, it won’t be much of a deal at all. Those who tend to do most all the work on their own and have the ‘root hog or die’ mentality about animal health issues, it will be a steep curve. Fortunately we’ve got some time to work out those bugs but don’t wait too much longer, the law takes effect on Jan. 1, so it will sneak up on you if you let it.”
McCorkill added that the best way to keep on top of the directive is to talk with your veterinarian and to develop a relationship that is beneficial to your operation, and to be open to suggestions given regarding livestock management and health.
“Make sure you are doing what the vet expects of you from a client patient relationship standpoint,” he said. “That relationship is going to be of upmost importance as we progress in time. You might even start talking about other options besides antibiotics to help with some of the problems you are having.”
He went on to say that many animal health issues can be prevented or greatly reduced by adjusting management practices to reduce stress and exposure to pathogens.
“In many instances, animal health is a lot like a machine, a little preventative maintenance will go a long way in stopping major problems,” MCorkill explained. “Improved grazing management, a different vaccination program or fly control method, to name a few, can go a long ways towards stopping outbreaks before they start.”
While improved management practices can improve herd health, McCorkill said the removal of some medications from feed could make some ailments and diseases a little more difficult to treat, including anaplasmosis. Tetracycline has generally been used to treat the blood disease, but it is on the FDA’s list of medically important antibiotics.
“I am particularly concerned about what might happen to the rates of anaplasmosis cases around the area,” he said. “Last year seemed to be pretty bad for it in the fall and I’ve already heard of a few cases this fall as well. If you take antibiotics out of the equation next year, we may begin to see quite a problem with it – like hasn’t been seen for many years around here. Foot rot is another common ailment that might be a little tougher to keep a handle on for some going into the future; fortunately it won’t be near as devastating as loosing several head in a short order like with anaplasmosis.”
Because there will still be some Ionophores, such as Bovatec and Rumensin, not covered by the law at this time, livestock producers also need to communicate with their feed supplier to find out what will and what will not be available after Jan. 1.
“Producers need to make sure (feed suppliers) are going to continue to sell products with feed-grade antibiotics included, just don’t expect them to supply you with a feed mix including them,” McCorkill said. “This program opens the doors to a lot of new regulation and oversight that will increase cost of doing business for them and bring with it potential for fines and shutdowns, leaving them vulnerable to liability; not to mention added paperwork and probably computer systems. It will probably be enough to keep some feed businesses from wanting to mess with antibiotic products anymore.
“Some feed companies are spending a lot of money to find more ‘natural’ ways of treating and preventing disease in livestock, such as essential oil blends and yeast cultures that are added to the feed. If you go that route, it will open up a whole new set of questions and might leave you wondering whether it is worth it to use them or not. You, your feed supplier and vet will all have to keep record of what products were prescribed and mixed at what amounts and when they were fed to be in compliance so you will need to work out the logistics of getting information from one place to another.”
The VFD does not mean that use of all antibiotics to treat livestock will require a visit from a veterinarian for a prescription.
“Farmers will still be able to administer non-prescription antibiotics such as oxytetracycline (LA 200 or LA 300) and penicillin-based products, according to label directions without a prescription, for the time being. I would, however, be prepared to lose that in the future as well,” McCorkill said.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here