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5 questions about VFDs and beef production

Cattle feeding will be changing in 2017. Starting Jan 1, 2017, all livestock producers will need a veterinary feed directive (VFD) in order to utilize antibiotics in the feed. Trying to wade through all the regulations can be a nightmare, so I’ve pulled out 5 things you need to know to be ready for 2017.

  1. What is a VFD?

A VFD is a written statement issued by your veterinarian that authorizes the use of a VFD drug in animal feed. It give you, the producer, the ok to purchase and use medications regulated by the VFD rule on your operation. The VFD will be specific as to the group of cattle and it can be valid for as long as 6 months.

  1. Which medications are affected by the VFD rule?

Only antibiotics that are classified as shared use are affected by the VFD rule. You will still be able to use them, but only for control, treatment or prevention of disease. All claims for growth are going away. The most common medications that will affect beef cattle are chlortetracycline, oxytetracycline and Tylan®. You will not need a VFD to feed Bovatec® or Rumensin® by themselves. None of the products offered by CRYSTALYX® will require a VFD for your continued use.

Antibiotics Affected by VFD Rule

Antibiotics Affected by VFD Rule

Image from FeedStuffs
  1. What if I use a combination of medications? 

If you are currently feeding an antibiotic with another medication that is not on the VFD list, you will need a VFD and it will need to list the non-VFD drug as well. For example, if you are using Aureomycin® in combination with Bovatec® in your feed, the VFD will need to list both medications.

  1. How will I order my medicated feed?

You will still be able to order from your local dealer. You will have to present a copy (hard copy or electronic) of the VFD to the dealer at the time of order. The dealer cannot accept a VFD over the phone.

  1. Is there any record keeping?

Yes. You will need to keep a hard copy of each VFD for a minimum of two years. If your operation was to get audited, the inspector would ask to see all VFD paperwork for the past 2 years

Want more information? Please visit the links below for more information about the VFD ruling. Be sure to check back as it’s possible that the guidelines will change as we move closer to 2017. Also, start a conversation with your veterinarian and your feed dealer so you are all on the same page for 2017.

Feedstuffs VFD Central

North Dakota State University Extension

Beef Magazine Industry Voice

FDA Producer Requirements


Aureomycin® and Bovatec® are registered trademarks of Zoetis

Rumensin® and Tylan® are registered trademarks of Elanco