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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

June 15, 2016 - 7:34am -- lewandowski.11@...

          Most livestock owners are probably somewhat acquainted with the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) that is scheduled to go into effect on January 1 of 2017.  The purpose of the VFD is help insure the judicious use of antimicrobials (think antibiotics), generally termed as drugs.   Are you prepared for the steps that will need to be taken if a VFD drug will be needed on your farm or livestock operation?  For you beekeepers out there, did you know that bees are included under the VFD?

           Oversight of the VFD belongs to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and this is the agency that will determine which drugs fall under VFD status.   Drugs designated as VFD drugs will only be able to be used under the professional supervision of a licensed veterinarian.  According to the FDA web page dealing with the VFD, current VFD drugs include avilamycin, florfenicol and tilmicosin.  Drugs that are scheduled to move from over the counter drugs to VFD status drugs include:  penicillin, chlortetracycline, chlortetracycline/sulfamethazine, chlortetracycline/sulfamethazine/penicillin, hygromycin B, lincomycin, oxtetracycline, oxtetracycline/neomyacin, sulfadimethoxine/ormetoprim, tylosin, tylosin/sulfamethazine and virginiamycin.  With time, other drugs will be added to the VFD list.

          Recently Maurice Eastridge, Dairy Specialist in the Ohio State University Department of Animal Sciences wrote a good article describing the VFD that I will quote from here.  By definition, a VFD is “a written statement issued by a licensed veterinarian in the course of the veterinarian’s professional practice that orders the use of a VFD drug in or on an animal feed.” This written statement authorizes the client to obtain and use the VFD drug in or on an animal feed to treat their animals only in accordance with the directions for use approved for the drug by the FDA.  A veterinarian can issue a VFD to a client only if a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) exists. Thus, farmers need to be working with their veterinarian now to make sure this VCPR is in place. 

          A recent Ohio Veterinary newsletter from the Ohio State Veterinary Extension department spelled out what is included in a VCPR and summarized it as “a formal relationship that you have with a veterinarian who serves as your primary contact for all veterinary services and is familiar with you, your livestock/animals, and your farm operation.  This veterinarian is referred to as your Veterinarian of Record (VoR), and both the VoR and the client should sign a form to document this relationship.  You can download a VCPR template developed by the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association Drug Use Task Force at:    This veterinary relationship can be thought of as similar to having a primary “family doctor” where that individual is the one whom you consult with regarding prescription needs, changes in health status, or specialized services.”  For those who may not have an Internet connection and would like a VCPR form, contact me at the Wayne County Extension office at 330-264-8722 and I can provide this form to you.

            How does the VFD form work and what is included in that form or written statement?  According to the Eastridge article; “A VFD form is needed for each VFD drug prescribed that provides contact information for the client and veterinarian, the explicit instructions and purpose for use of the prescribed drug, including the expiration date for the VFD, and the signature of the licensed veterinarian. The completed VFD form can be sent to the drug distributor, e.g. feed mill, and the client either in electronic form or paper copy. All parties involved in the use of the VFD drug must retain a copy of the VFD for 2 years. Extra-label use of medicated feed, including a VFD drug, will not be permitted. The expiration date on the completed VFD form is the last date at which the feed containing the prescribed VFD drug can be fed. A veterinarian can prescribe a refill on the VFD feed if the label for the VFD drug being used authorizes refills based on the approval made by FDA. Producers who manufacture their own feed must have a VFD in order to get the medicated VFD feed from the manufacturer.

            A generic VFD drug form is available, but most companies have prepared specific VFD drug forms for each respective VFD drug that they manufacture. Ionophores, e.g. Rumensin and Bovatec, have not been designed as VFD drugs and thus feeding them does not require a VFD form; however, the feeding guidelines as described on the label need to be followed. Although the VFD pertains only to feed, antimicrobials for use in water or administration orally or by injection need to be conducted under the advisement of a veterinarian. These antimicrobials administered other than by feed also will require a prescription unless they are over the counter medications.”

            Take the time now to make sure you have a VCPR in place.  When the VFD goes into effect good record keeping and adherence to drug administration protocols will become very important.