What is the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD)?
The FDA recently released updated guidelines that will go into effect in spring 2017. The FDA asked all drug companies to voluntarily remove the growth promotion labels from their antibiotic products. All of the companies have agreed to comply, and thus any use of antibiotics for growth promotion purposes will be illegal by 2017. Technically, using any antibiotic in the feed or water for more than 14 days is considered growth promotion. Products that currently state “for increased weight gain or feed efficiency” will no longer be able to be purchased by 2017. However, antibiotics may be used in the feed or water if they are labeled for treatment or control of disease. These antibiotics will now require a prescription if they are added to water, or a VFD if they are added to feed. The VFD has slightly less stringent rules than a prescription, but will still require a veterinarian to sign off on the antibiotics being added to the feed. Prior to these guidelines, most antibiotics added to feed or water could be easily purchased over the counter without veterinary oversight. This will no longer be the case when 2017 comes.
How Will It Impact You?
Starting in 2017, antibiotics such as Aureo S 700 crumbles in feed and neomycin in milk replacers will need a VFD. If you wish to use these medications, your veterinarian will have to determine there is a definite need for them. For example, if incoming cattle frequently become ill upon arrival, a vet could write a VFD for inclusion of a tetracycline in the feed for a brief period of time to prevent pneumonia. However, if the cattle are healthy and there has been no history of disease, a vet could not write a VFD and an antibiotic could not be purchased or added to the feed. Once a vet writes a VFD, a feed mill or drug distributor could then sell the requested antibiotic or add it to the feed. Any extra label use of an antibiotic in the feed is illegal, so all label directions would have to be followed completely. Antibiotics added to drinking water would require a prescription. Medicated feeds containing antibiotics that are currently labeled “for increased feed efficiency or weight gain” will be illegal and unable to be purchased. This does not include feeds with only coccidiostats such as monensin (Rumensin), lasalocid, amprolium (Corid) or decoquinate (Deccox) as these are not antibiotics. Ear implants also would not be affected by the new guidelines. Injectable antibiotics that are currently over the counter will not be affected at this time, although the future is uncertain if these will become prescription products as well.
What Can You Do?
If you are currently using antibiotics in the feed or water, you should let your veterinarian know what products you are using, what you are using them for, and from which company you are purchasing your products. Your veterinarian will then decide if the antibiotic is needed. A VFD requires extensive paperwork on the veterinarian’s part, so this will provide time to prepare a VFD and make sure you can still receive the necessary antibiotics.
How Can ANIMART Help?
ANIMART is committed to the success of our producers. We strive to limit antibiotic use unless necessary and actively promote the health and wellbeing of our clients’ animals by preventing disease whenever possible. ANIMART veterinarians are well equipped to deal with the necessary paperwork for prescriptions and VFDs, and we are happy to serve you. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at any time.
Dr. Vicky Lauer
ANIMART Professional Services Veterinarian