Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) changes go into effect this January. Are you prepared?

By: Rob Lynch, DVM, PRO-DAIRY Dairy Herd Health & Management Specialist

Most in the dairy industry are aware of recent guidance coming from the FDA as part of the agency’s policies on judicious use of medically important antimicrobial drugs. As the final phase of implementation approaches, now is a good time to remind everyone what has changed regarding feed-use and water-use antibiotic products which were, up until now, purchased over the counter (OTC).

  • A VFD is a written (nonverbal) statement issued by a licensed veterinarian in the course of the veterinarian’s professional practice that authorizes the use of a VFD drug or combination VFD drug in or on an animal feed.
  • What is a VFD drug? A drug intended for use in or on animal feed that is limited to use under the professional supervision of a licensed veterinarian. The product label will bear the statementCaution: Federal law restricts medicated feed containing this veterinary feed directive (VFD) drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian.”
  • All feed efficiency and growth promotion uses are prohibited for products requiring a VFD. All medically important antibiotic containing feeds will be for therapeutic uses only.
  • Feed products containing chlortetracycline, neomycin, oxytetracycline, sulfamethazine, tylosin & virginiamycin will transition from OTC to VFD status requiring a written order from a veterinarian with a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship (VCPR) with the producer. These written orders must contain specific information and copies retained by the veterinarian, producer, and feed supplier for two years.
  • As has always been the case, extra label drug use (ELDU) is not permitted for drugs intended for use in or on animal feed. Only uses specifically stated on the product label are permitted.
  • In order for the VFD to be lawful, the issuing veterinarian must meet the VCPR requirements set by the state(s) in which he/she practices. If the state does not have its own VCPR criteria (which New York does not), the veterinarian must adhere to the Federal standard. For a VCPR to exist, a veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making medical judgments regarding the health of (an) animal(s) and the need for medical treatment, and the client (owner or other caretaker) has agreed to follow the instructions of the veterinarian. The veterinarian must have sufficient knowledge of the animal(s) to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the animal(s); and is readily available for follow up in case of adverse reactions or failure of the regimen of therapy. Such a relationship can exist only when the veterinarian has recently seen and is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of the animal(s) by virtue of examination of the animal(s), and/or by medically appropriate and timely visits to the premises where the animal(s) are kept.
  • All water-use products containing medically important antibiotics will require a prescription.
  • Antibiotics not classified as medically important in human medicine are not affected. This includes ionophore containing products like Rumensin and Bovatec, unless they are included in an approved combination mix with a VFD regulated product.
  • All VFDs must be issued with an expiration date in accordance with the product’s approval or shorter as determined by the veterinarian. If no stated duration appears on the label, the VFD cannot be issued for more than a six month duration.
  • Not sure if you are currently feeding a product that will transition to VFD Jan 1st? Talk to your veterinarian and nutritionist to make sure you are ready for the change.
  • Click on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration's VFD changes link for more information.
  • The North Dakota State Veterinary Feed Directive report is an additional resource.
  • The New York State Cattle Health Assurance Program (NYSCHAP) also has a NYS Veterinary/Farm Residue Prevention (NYSVFRP) module information that includes information on VFD, VCPR, AMDUCA and residue avoidance record systems.

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