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Importance of beef cattle best management practices

Impact of FDA’s Plan to Phase Out Antibiotic Growth Promotion Use in Animal Production

Part of my “casual” reading this week was the FDA Guidance For Industry (GFI) #213, which was released on December 11, 2013.  This GFI outlines the voluntary 3 year plan to phase out the feeding of antimicrobials for growth promotion and increased feed efficiency in animal production while maintaining the use of antimicrobials for the prevention and treatment of disease.  The other component of this plan is to increase veterinary oversight using the Veterinarian Feed Directive (VFD).

FDA has a system of numbering these reports.  To better understand GFI #213, you needed to read the April 12, 2012 GFI #209 and then GFI #152 which was released on October 23, 2003.  I listed these GFIs for a couple of reasons.  First the removal of antibiotics used as growth promotants in animal feed has been coming for a while due to the concern about increasing microbial resistance in both veterinary and human medicine.  The first warning shot came 10 years ago with the publication of GFI #152, listing the antimicrobials of importance to humans.  Now, with GFI #213, the industry has 3 years to implement a phase out program.

Currently, the use of ionophores, such as Rumensin® and Bovatec®, are not impacted and will remain available.  Ionophores account for the largest percentage of antimicrobial use in the cattle industry.  These products are not used in human medicine as their main antimicrobial action is shifting the microbial population in the rumen to more efficient bacteria and controlling the growth of coccidia.  CRYSTALYX® Iono-Lyx® B300, which contains Bovatec®, will remain a valuable tool to you for use in your replacement heifer and stocker programs.  We will keep you updated if there are any future changes. 

The use of VFD is not completely new, but will become a larger component of managing your feeding programs.  Medicated feed additives that were approved in the last 3-4 years were approved with the stipulation that a VFD was required.  This shift to more veterinary oversight will continue and will impact the use of over-the-counter medicated feeds.  Therapeutic and preventative use of medicated feeds will still be allowed and the industry is working out the details of the VFD system for these products.

This topic is complicated with many implications to your operation.  The beef and dairy industry has and will continue to be one of the most efficient production systems in agriculture.  We produce more meat, milk, and animal related products with fewer animals than just 10 years ago.  Technology like low stress animal handling, fetal programming, precision nutrient delivery, and precision grazing systems will become even more important as we move away from antimicrobial growth promotion usage.  Work with your nutrition advisor and veterinarian on developing management programs that improve the production efficiency of your herd.  CRYSTALYX® Brand Self-Fed Supplement will continue to provide tools to impact animal performance, health and grazing efficiency.