December 9, 2016 - 10:49am --

The Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) goes into effect on January 1 2017 and if you raise livestock and ever feed medically important antibiotics such as tetracycline, sulfamethazine, penicillin, neomycin or tylosin, the way you manage your animals’ health will change. The purpose of the VFD is help insure the judicious use of antimicrobials (think antibiotics), generally termed as drugs.

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 article 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.”

Recently (August 2016) a brochure defining the VFD and providing more information for livestock owners was developed by the Ohio State University Veterinary Extension department. This brochure summarizes two very important changes about drugs that livestock owners may have or be using and what will be required under the VFD to continue use of those drugs. The brochure provides examples of water use and feed use drugs and which ones will require a VFD and which will require a prescription. The brochure is available by clicking on the following link: OSU Veterinary Extension VFD Brochure

The Veterinary Feed Directive applies to all food animal producers regardless how many head are owned. This means FFA and 4-H youth are included if they choose to feed medically important antibiotics to their project animals. The Veterinary Feed Drective (VFD) Fact Sheet for 4-H Youth Livestock Producers and Families further explains youth compliance with the VFD.

For more details regarding the implementation of the VFD program and details both producers and veterinarians must be aware of, hear this recent interview with Dr. Graig Payne, University of Missouri Extension, during the 2017 Missouri Cattle Industry Convention.