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It's time to chat with your vet about your VFD

It's time to chat with your vet about your VFD
The VFD will end your picking up medicated feed additives at the feed store without veterinary oversight.

The Veterinary Feed Directive is soon to arrive, courtesy of U.S. Food and Drug and Administration. Now’s the time to have a heart-to-heart chat with your veterinarian about your use of any medicated feed or water products for livestock or poultry.

Related: These cattle drugs will be impacted by VFD

You’ll be required to seek veterinary approval for many over-the-counter antimicrobial drugs that have been available. By the end of 2016, FDA will eliminate all food animal growth promotion uses of “medically important” antimicrobials – ones used to treat human disease.

It’s time to chat with your vet about your VFD

Remaining animal health uses meeting FDA’s “judicious use” standards will require your veterinarian’s approval. All extra-label use of drugs will be banned. That means a veterinarian won’t be able to use his judgement in approving a drug for a purpose not specifically listed on the label – except for injectable or water-delivered medication.

Another perspective
Much blame for causing antibiotic resistance in humans has been placed on feeding antibiotics to animals. But we know this:

• A relatively small percentage of the antibiotics used in livestock production are used for routine growth promotion. That practice is steadily being phased out.

• A report in the New England Journal of Medicine found that U.S. doctors prescribe enough antibiotics to treat 80% of all Americans every year. In other words, antibiotics are clearly overused in humans.

• A 2014 Centers for Disease Control report found that half of all prescriptions given to humans were unnecessary.

• A recent FDA antibiotic use summary found the following usages in humans versus animals (by volume of drug used):
Penicillins: 44% vs 6%;
Cephalosporins: 15% vs 1%;
Sulfas: 14% vs 3%;
Quinolones: 9% vs less than 1%;
Macrolides: 5% vs 4%;
Tetracyclines: 4% vs 41%;
Ionophores (monensin, etc.): 0% vs. 30%.

Note: Monensin isn’t considered a medically important antibiotic.

So it seems a bit unfair to put all the blame for antibiotic resistance in humans on livestock producers doesn’t it? Why do we hear very little about the over-prescribing of antibiotics in human medicine?

Back to your vet chat...
Granting you a VFD is at your veterinarian’s discretion, so don’t assume it’s an automatic process. It’s up to them to decide if:

• you have a genuine need.      
• the feed antibiotic will do the job you expect
• there are alternative products that aren’t antibiotics
• you’re able to meet pre-slaughter withdrawal times

If you haven’t done so already, make sure you have a close working relationship with your veterinarian before VFD’s are required at year-end.

For more on what cattle drugs will be affected by the VFD, click on Cattle drugs

Harpster is a beef producer and retired Penn State University animal scientist.

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