Veterinary Feed Directives: What’s coming in 2017? – Dr. Al Schultz, Vita Plus
Click here to download Schultz’s PowerPoint presentation.
Consumer concern about antibiotic resistance has pushed major food processors, distributors and retailers to restrict or eliminate antibiotic use in the production of their foods. That same pressure has pushed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take a new approach in regulating the use of antibiotics in livestock feed.
“Maintaining the status quo on antibiotics in feed is not an option,” said Dr. Al Schultz, Vita Plus vice president of technical services, during his presentation at the recent Vita Plus Calf Summit.
Although it seems like the new rules appeared suddenly, Schultz explained that the FDA has been moving toward the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) process for more than a decade. On January 1, 2017, these rules will begin affecting antibiotic use on livestock farms.
Schultz explained that antibiotics are split into two categories:
- Medically important: Classes of antibiotics used in both human medicine and livestock production
- Non-medically important: Classes of antibiotics used in livestock production, but not human medicine
On livestock farms, antibiotics are used for four purposes: (1) Treatment, (2) control and (3) prevention of disease, and (4) growth promotion. When the VFD rules take effect, medically important antibiotics will no longer be available for use in growth promotion.
Schultz said the most important thing producers need to do now is make sure they have a veterinary client patient relationship (VCPR). Your veterinarian should understand your farm, goals and challenges because he or she is the only person who can issue VFDs for your farm. Know what antibiotics you use on your farm and the reasons why. Discuss your program with your veterinarian and determine if and how your farm will be affected by the VFD process.
The VFD process
Schultz explained the process begins when the veterinarian completes a VFD to authorize the use of a VFD drug with a specific effective date, expiration date, withdrawal information, etc. Essentially, three copies of the VFD are kept:
- The veterinarian must keep the original on file for two years.
- The producer must keep a copy of the original for two years.
- The feed provider must keep of a copy of the original (provided by the producer) for two years.The feed provider cannot manufacture the feed with a VFD drug unless it has a copy on file.
The VFD will define two important dates for the producer:
- Expiration date: The date after which it is no longer lawful to feed the VFD feed, even if the farm has it in inventory.(If not specified, the expiration date is six months after the VFD issuance date.)
- Duration: The length of time allowed to be fed as specified by the label (for example, feed for five days at 10 milligrams per pound of bodyweight).
In addition to establishing a VCPR, review your protocols and take inventory of what antibiotics are used in your farm’s feed. Schultz recommended these steps to be ready for VFDs on January 1, 2017:
- Put one person in charge of all VFD recordkeeping on your farm.“If it’s everyone’s business, it’s nobody’s business,” Schultz quipped.
- Start a recordkeeping system that’s easy to maintain. He said the University of Wisconsin-Extension has an easy-to-use template.
- Communicate with your feed mill so you are all on the same page.
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Veterinary Feed Directive