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The Veterinary Feed Directive Rules: Are You Ready?

Yes, this is yet another article about the upcoming Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) Rules. By now some of you are probably tired of hearing about them, while others are hearing this for the first time. As a refresher, here’s a quick rundown on the history of these rules:

  • U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) outlined changes in use of antibiotic product in production animals in 2013
  • Seeks to promote judicious use of antibiotics in animal feed and water
  • Helps limit development of antimicrobial resistance
  • The final rule was published in June 2015
  • Starting January 1, 2017 medically important antibiotics (shared by animals and humans) can only be fed under the direction of a veterinarian with valid, written VFD

As a quick recap, below is a helpful table that lists the drugs that WILL be affected by VFD regulations and those that WILL NOT be affected. There are a lot of rumors floating around. This is the accurate list.

Drugs That Will & Will Not Be Affected by VFD Regulations

Drugs That Will & Will Not Be Affected by VFD Regulations

Please understand that the VFD rules ONLY apply to medically important antibiotics administered via feed or water. These rules will NOT apply to injectable forms, drenches, etc. Also, please note that VFD antibiotics can only be written for a valid feed drug claim. Extra-label usage is strictly prohibited. For instance, your vet cannot write a VFD utilizing chlortetracycline for pinkeye or footrot prevention.

Starting in late summer or early fall you will start seeing the affected medicated product labels with the new VFD text. In short, the new labels will indicate that the product requires a VFD in order to be purchased or used. Don’t panic. You can still use the product even if you don’t have a VFD right now. However, this changes on January 1, 2017 when enforcement begins. The feed industry needs this extra time to get new labels printed and into the distribution chain in time for January 1 so that is why you are seeing them early.

As a producer, now is the time to develop a plan on how you will handle the VFD regulations. Don’t wait until December and then get caught with your pants down. Below is a check list of questions for you, your veterinarian and feed representative to start discussing and begin forming plans on how to handle:

  • Do you have a herd veterinarian? If no, now is the time to choose a veterinarian and develop a client/patient relationship prior to needing him or her in January.
  • Do you know which feed and water medications currently used in your system will require a VFD? If no, discuss this now with your veterinarian and feed representative and plan accordingly.
  • Have you identified potential feed stores or feed mills that will handle VFD feeds? If you are unsure if your local dealer will handle them, ask now. Have you communicated the names and locations of these businesses to your veterinarian?
  • Do you have a plan in place to notify your feed dealer/manufacturer of the correct quantity of feed needed to fulfill the VFD?
  • Do you have a system in place to store written or electronic copies of VFDs? Producers are legally required to store them for 2 years and will have to produce them upon inspection.
  • Do you have a plan in place to handle expiration dates on VFDs?
  • Do you have a plan in place to handle remaining VFD feeds after the VFD expires?
  • Do you manufacture your own feed or sell feed or supplements to your neighbors? If yes, have you submitted an Intent to Distribute VFD Feeds form to FDA?

So in summary, use the questions above to start a dialogue with your feed store representatives and your veterinarian about the new VFD rules. Educate yourself on which drugs that you already use will be affected by these regulations. Get a plan in place now so that you will be prepared for January. Other sources of information include Kansas State’s free educational module and FDA’s site.If you have additional questions, feel free to contact your local veterinarian, feed dealer or CRYSTALYX® representative and we will help guide you as best as we can.



Elanco. Full Value Beef Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) Preparedness Checklist for Producers.

Elanco. USBBUNON01097: How is antibiotic use going to change under proposals put forth by FDA?