As January 1, 2017 nears, beef cattle producers need to be prepared for the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) regulation. Photo courtesy of Troy Walz.

As January 1, 2017 nears, beef cattle producers need to be prepared for the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) regulation. Photo courtesy of Troy Walz from the article: Nebraska BQA: Cattle Producers and the Veterinary Feed Directive

On January 1, 2017 medicated feeds for livestock will no longer be sold “over-the-counter” (OTC) through feed dealers. Under the direction of the US Food and Drug Administration, feeds that include antimicrobial drugs will be transitioning to Veterinary Feed Directive Status (VFD). VFD drugs will be “limited to use under the professional supervision of a licensed veterinarian,” or in essence require a prescription from a veterinarian. (FDA Guidance for Industry #120).

Essentially, this means that you will have to consult with a veterinarian and obtain a written VFD order before you can purchase any feed containing VFD drugs (See Figure 1). Moreover, there must be an existing veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) in place before a veterinarian may issue a VFD order to a producer. Loosely, this means the veterinarian must have documented prior knowledge of your operation, and the type of animals that would be receiving the feed containing VFD drugs, before issuing a VFD order. Contact your veterinarian before the changes take place, to help ensure that a VCPR is in place. It should be noted, that even with a VCPR in place, and after veterinary consultation VFD statements will only be issued in situations where the drugs “are considered necessary for assuring animal health” not for “production purposes (e.g., to promote growth or improve feed efficiency)” (FDA Guidance for Industry #209).

VFD orders are very specific and should be followed precisely. Figure 2 details what information should be on a VFD order. VFD orders have expiration dates. Regardless of the amount of feed/medication purchased, no VFD Drug is to be administered after the expiration date on the VFD order.  Again very similar to a prescription.

After the issuance of a VFD order, the producer/client has specific responsibilities. The key aspects of these responsibilities are 1) follow the VFD order precisely, 2) provide a copy of the VFD order to the feed distributor, if the veterinarian sends it via the client (it may be sent directly from the veterinarian to the feed distributor), and  3) maintain a copy of the VFD order for a minimum of 2 years. See Figure 3 for more details.

There will be a producer meeting with local experts on this topic on Monday, August 15th

The VFD Program will be held at the Washington County Ag Center in Chipley  to help further explain how the new VFD rule will effect producers. The meeting will begin at 6 PM Central, and a meal will be provided. Please RSVP to the Washington County Extension Office (850-638-6180) by August 11 if you plan on attending. Call the office or see the invitation if you have questions about the meeting.


For questions about the Veterinary Feed Directive Regulations see the links below and/or contact your UF/IFAS Agricultural Extension Agent.


Mark Mauldin