The Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) and the Beef Producer

– Justin Kieffer, DVM, Clinical Veterinarian Professional Practice Asst. Professor, OSU Department of Animal Sciences

As of January 1st, 2017, all “medically important” antibiotics used in feed will fall into the FDA’s Veterinary Feed Directive Program. This will mean that to obtain and use these drugs in feed, you will need a written Veterinary Directive (VFD) from your veterinarian, who must be licensed in the state of Ohio.

A VFD is a written (by hand or electronically) statement from your veterinarian, authorizing you to feed a medically important antibiotic, for a period of up to 6 months. This must be delivered to the feed mill prior to purchasing a VFD feed.

What are the “medically important” antibiotics? These include tetracycline, penicillin, neomycin and tylosin, to name a few.

This VFD rule eliminates the use of medically important drugs for feed efficiency or growth-promotion claims. VFD drugs may only be used to treat, prevent or cure disease.

This new regulation does NOT require a VFD for feed containing ionophores such as Bovatec or Rumensin, or any drug used to treat/prevent coccidia, such as Decox. However, if you feed an ionophore in combination with a medically important drug (i.e. oxytetracycline + Rumensin). you will need a VFD.

Water soluble drugs (sulfadimethoxine, for example) will become prescription products (not VFD), and should be available through your veterinarian like any other prescription product.

Injectable over-the-counter antibiotics, such as LA-200 (tetracycline) are not affected by this rule.

Mineral preparations and salt blocks containing medically important antibiotics will also be included in the VFD regulation.

How does a producer obtain VFD feed?

You must have a valid Veterinary-Client-Patient-Relationship to legally obtain a VFD feed. (A VCPR) This means for you to receive a valid VFD, you need to have a veterinarian that works on your cattle operation, has enough knowledge to help make clinical judgements for your animals, and is available for follow-up.

How long do you keep VFD records?

You as the producer, your veterinarian and your feed mill must keep copies of each VFD for 2 years. A VFD must be available for inspection by FDA officials on demand.

The VFD document contain vital information, such as drug name, concentration, label requirements, expiration and slaughter withdrawal.

A VFD cannot be issued for an extra-label use. This means, for instance, if Tylan is labelled for feeding at 100g/ton for control of liver abscesses in feedlot cattle for 30 days, you cannot feed 200g per ton, feed for 60 days, or change the directions in any way that are different from what the label says.

Are there expiration dates for a VFD?

If a VFD expires before all of the medicated feed has been fed, then a new VFD will need to be issued.

It is important for beef producers to contact their veterinarian to discuss drugs they are using on their operations and how the Veterinary Feed Directive impacts them.

If your operation does not have a veterinarian providing care for your cattle, advice and oversight of your use of medications, it is highly recommended that you establish one.

Producers can get more information on the new VFD rule from the FDA website: