Farm Progress

New Veterinary Feed Directive goes into effect Jan. 1?

New veterinary feed directives will require prescription for drugs previously available over the counter. New rules takes effect Jan. 1, 2017

December 20, 2016

2 Min Read
Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD)Sunup Television visited with Stillwater Agri Center about the upcoming changes in supplements and antibiotics used in animal production.

Livestock producers can expect tighter federal controls on the use of some antibiotics for food animals in 2017.

Stricter guidelines for the Veterinary Feed Directive go into effect Jan. 1, 2017.

The VFD covers a category of drugs created by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1996. Previously these drugs could be purchased over-the-counter.

As a result of changes to the rule, producers will be required to get authorization from a veterinarian to buy medically important antibiotics and administer them to food animals through feed and drinking water.

Medically important antibiotics are medications crucial to treating human diseases.

“We’ve been used to just walking in the feed store and buying these products. Now [a producer] is going to have to go to his veterinarian first so he has that document that he’s going to give to the feed store so they can sell him this product and use it,” said Dr. Barry Whitworth, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension area food animal/quality and health specialist, Southeast District.

The more stringent VFD includes any food animal species, including, but not limited to, cattle, swine and poultry.


“Any of the animals that have used these products in the past, any of these over-the-counter products such as chlortetracycline, lincomycin, there’s a whole bunch of these out there,” Whitworth said. “They’re going to have to get in touch with their veterinarian in order to continue using these products in the future.”

For a veterinarian to issue the required authorization, or prescription, there must be an established veterinarian-client-patient relationship.

“Very basic, but [the veterinarian] has got to make a medical judgment on these animals,” Whitworth said. “He’s going to have to have enough information to make a diagnosis and that veterinarian has to be available in case there’s an adverse drug reaction or there’s failure of therapy. That’s the basis for him being able to write this for the producers.”

The impetus for tightening the VFD is rooted in efforts by the FDA to promote more cautious use of antibiotics in food animals. Research has linked use of antibiotics in food animals to a rise in antimicrobial-resistant bacteria in humans. 

“We know this is going to be a process. There’s going to be a lot of hurdles. There are going to be many questions that come up. The FDA knows that,” said Whitworth. “As far as they’re concerned, it’s going to be mainly an educational process initially before they would ever start enforcing it from the standpoint of any type of fines or anything like that.”

For more information, visit and search for “Veterinary Feed Directive” and contact the county Extension office.



On this SUNUP segment, Dr. Barry Whitworth explains the Veterinary Feed Directive. Feel free to share this link as part of your online and social media content.


In another SUNUP segment, David White explains the science behind the FDA’s move to strengthen the Veterinary Feed Directive.



Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like