Guidelines to Medicated Feed Additives

by Dr. Vicky Lauer

What is the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD)?

The FDA recently released updated guidelines regarding antibiotics in feed or water for food animals. The FDA is asking drug companies to voluntarily remove the growth promotion labels from their antibiotic products. Using an antibiotic for production purposes without a label is illegal, so these products could no longer be used. Antibiotics will still be allowed for treatment or control of disease, but they 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.

How Will It Impact You?

Antibiotics such as Aureo S 700 crumbles in feed and neomycin in milk replacers will now need a VFD. If you wish to use these medications, your veterinarian will have to determine there is a definite need for them. As an example, if incoming cattle frequently become ill upon arrival, a veterinarian could write a VFD for inclusion of a tetracycline in the feed to prevent pneumonia. However, if the cattle are healthy and there has been no history of disease, a veterinarian 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 could then sell the requested antibiotic or add it to the feed. Any antibiotics added to drinking water will now require a prescription. Medicated feeds containing antibiotics and are currently labeled "for increased feed efficiency or weight gain" will be illegal and unable to be purchased. This does not include feeds with 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 feed mill you are purchasing your products. Your veterinarian will then decide if the antibiotic is needed. This will allow your veterinarian 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.