As the veterinary feed directive (VFD) has been in effect for something over two years, now might be a good time to review the federal act that has affected cattle producers utilizing medicated feeds that contained medically important antibiotics. Beef cattle producers in Oklahoma often use a medicated mineral for controlling anaplasmosis that falls in the oversight of the VFD. The VFD requires a prescription from a licensed veterinarian for medically important antibiotics in or on feed. This necessitates a veterinary-client-patient-relationship be established in advance to obtain the medicated feed for treatment. The VFD act eliminated the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion and feed efficiency purposes. Authorized uses remain for the prevention, treatment and or control of disease. The VFD does not apply to medicated feeds that do not contain medically important antibiotics. Examples of medicated feeds that are not affected by the VFD would be those feeds containing an ionophore or products for controlling bloat, or parasites.
When using a VFD feed, the producer is required to maintain a copy of the signed VFD from the veterinarian for two years. Cattle owners do not have flexibility in how the medicated VFD feed is used; it can only be used as labeled and prescribed in the VFD. The VFD should also specify an “expiration date.” This is the last day the VFD feed can be fed; not the date the drug becomes ineffective. If a producer cannot complete the therapy before the expiration date, the veterinarian should be contacted to obtain a new VFD. — Bob LeValley, Oklahoma Beef Quality Assurance coordinator