Skip Navigation LinksAgriculture > Food For Thought > Article

The Veterinary Feed Directive

December 02, 2016
By: Dr. David Wolfgang

The Veterinary Feed Directive

​Currently in the US certain antibiotics for oral use in animals, used to promote growth, can be obtained by producers without veterinary supervision. This will no longer be the case, effective January 1, 2017.  

A rule change by the US Food and Drug Administration will put the use of antibiotics in feed or water under the supervision of veterinarians. A veterinarian must have a veterinary client patient relationship (VCPR) with the farm before he or she can write a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) for oral antibiotic use on a farm. Records will be required to be kept by the veterinarian, the feed mill, and the producer for two years. In Pennsylvania, only licensed veterinarians will be able to write VFD under a VCPR.  

Antibiotic resistance can be reduced through more judicious use of antibiotics by both public and animal health sectors.  The Center for Disease Control recommends four key components to reduce the spread of antibiotic resistance:

  1. Infection prevention and control, including practices with greater attention to biosecurity
  2. Tracking of antibiotic resistance
  3. Improving antibiotic prescribing and use-stewardship
  4. Developing new drugs and diagnostic tests for resistant bacteria 

Producers and their veterinarians should develop protocols for common infectious disease scenarios: 

  • Use antibiotics only when indicated under a valid VCPR
  • Whenever possible use a narrow-spectrum antibiotic
  • Use antibiotics for the shortest time necessary
  • Use accurate estimates of weight to calculate dose properly, use approved routes of administration
  • When treating livestock, use non-human antibiotic categories when possible
  • Use cultures and sensitivity tests to guide therapeutic decisions and reduce resistance

Rule changes to the VFD are predicted to balance public health, humane treatment of animals, food safety, and reasonable costs of production. For more information about the VFD, click here​.​


Share This