A considerable amount of information has been written this year about the upcoming Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) changes. Earlier in the year, some people probably thought “I have plenty of time to get ready or I will deal with it later.”  Well, “later” is here!

VFD changes take effect on January 1, 2017.  Michigan State University Extension educators recently held meetings across the state to help producers prepare for the changes.

The VFD changes will limit the use of some antimicrobials administered in feed and require veterinary oversight to obtain these products. These changes will affect all food-producing animals.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA), which sets policies for antimicrobial development and usage in humans and animals, is responsible for the VFD changes. FDA’s goal is to protect public health. Limiting antimicrobial resistance through judicious use of antibiotics is crucial to meeting that goal.

The new VFD regulations focus on medically important antimicrobials. These are products from drug classes that are important for therapeutic use in humans and are used in animals also. Antimicrobials used only in animals, such as ionophores and coccidiostats, are not affected by the VFD changes.

Medically-important antimicrobials will be limited to therapeutic uses only. Feeding these types of antimicrobials for growth promotion or increased feed efficiency will no longer be allowed.

Medically-important antimicrobials administered in feed can no longer be purchased over-the-counter (OTC). A VFD order from the herd’s veterinarian will be required to obtain the antimicrobials from a feed mill or retail distributor. These businesses must notify FDA that they intend to distribute VFD antimicrobials. 

Medically-important antimicrobials administered by water will require a prescription. Antibiotics administered by injection, oral bolus or intramammary infusion that are currently available OTC will NOT be affected. 

A farm must have a valid veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) for their veterinarian to write a VFD order. The veterinarian will provide copies of the VFD order to the feed mill (or another distributor) and the herd owner. This may occur as a paper copy or electronically. All three parties (veterinarian, feed mill/distributor and herd owner) must keep copies of the VFD order for two (2) years.

Extra-label drug use is not allowed for feed medications. The product must be used as labeled, including the species, indication, dosage and feeding duration. As an example, medicated milk replacers containing a combination of oxytetracycline and neomycin must be used according to the usage label (7-14 days).

Be Prepared

Are you prepared for the VFD changes?  Make sure you have a valid VCPR by talking with your veterinarian. If they are not familiar with your herd management, you can schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to review your practices and protocols and assess the health of the herd. Also, check with your current product distributors. Some distributors may no longer carry the products that you use. Taking time now to plan for these VFD changes will ensure a smoother transition. For additional information, visit the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development website.