Big changes in antibiotic use are headed livestock producers way with the upcoming FDA changes to the veterinary feed directive (VFD), set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2017. And while that may seem like a long time from now, producers need to start working with their veterinarian now to come up with a plan of action.

During a meeting lead by Jessica Laurin, large animal veterinarian and president of the Academy of Veterinary Consultants, beef producers were informed of the VFD rule which will shift medically important feed-grade antibiotics into the responsibility of veterinarians. On that list are Tetracycline, Chlorotetracycline, Oxytetracycline, Aminoglycosides, Potentiated sulfas and Macrolides.  

“VFD drugs are ‘new animal drugs’ intended for use in or on animal feed which are limited to use under the professional supervision of a license veterinary in the course of the veterinarian’s professional practice,” she told producers. 

According to University of Tennessee Extension Veterinarian Lew Strickland in a separate interview, “These items are going to become script items only,” meaning that in order for a producer to use them in their herd, a licensed veterinarian will have to write an order for a specific group of livestock to receive them within a specific time period. These two components of a VFD are referred to as the “expiration date” and “duration of use.”

Once the permit hits the expiration date, producers must obtain a new VFD from their veterinarian before they can legally administer more of the antibiotics – even if they have leftovers from the first permit. If producers have leftovers from livestock that no longer are in need of the antibiotics, a VFD can be permitted to a new specific group of animals using those leftovers.

Building a relationship

“How can livestock producers prepare themselves for VFD?” This was a main component of discussion during the producer meeting. According to Laurin and Strickland, it is pertinent for producers to start now in developing a veterinary-client-patient-relationship (VCPR), regularly communicating about production practices, animal husbandry, current animal health protocols, recurring health issues and routine visits.

“Start developing a conversation right now and establishing a VCPR,” stresses Strickland. “Because when the time hits, it is best to have a game plan already to go instead of coming up with something last minute.”

Take home questions by Doc Laurin

As a client, what are my responsibilities?

·         Only feed animal feed bearing or containing a VFD drug or a combination VFD drug (a VFD feed or combination VFD feed) to animals based on a VFD issued by a licensed veterinarian.

·         Don’t feed VFD feed or combination VFD feed to animals after the expiration date on the VFD.

·         Provide a copy of the VFD order to the feed distributor is the issuing veterinarian sends the distributor’s copy of the VFD through you, the client.

·         Maintain a copy of the VFD order for a minimum of two years, and provide VFD orders for inspection and copying by FDA upon request.

How do I know if a drug is a VFD drug, rather than an over-the-counter drug?

Read the label. All labeling and advertising for VFD drugs, combination VFD drugs, and feeds containing VFD drugs or combination VFD drugs must prominently and conspicuously display the following cautionary statement: “Caution: Federal law restricts medicated feed containing this veterinary feed directive drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian.”

Over-the-counter drugs do not have this statement.

As a client, can I feed a VFD feed past the VFD expiration date?

No. A VFD feed or combination VFD feed must not be fed to animals after the expiration date on the VFD.

My VFD order is set to expire before I can complete the duration of use on the order, what should I do?

A VFD feed or combination VFD feed must not be fed to animals after expiration date on the VFD. You should contact your veterinarian to request a new VFD order.

What is an “extralabel use” and is it allowed?

“Extralabel use” is defined in FDA’s regulations as actual or intended use of a drug in an animal in a manner that is not in accordance with the approved labeling.

·         Feeding the animals VFD feed for a duration of time that is different from the duration specified on the label.

·         Feeding VFD feed formulated with a drug level that is different from what is specified on the label.

·         Feeding VFD feed to an animal species different than what is specified on the label.

Extralabel use of medicated feed, including medicated feed containing a VFD drug or a combination VFD drug, is not permitted.

What feed meds are not affected?

·         Ionophores – monensin, lasalocid

·         Coccidiostats – amprolium, decoquinate

·         Beta-agonists