Skip to main content

Veterinary Feed Directive 2017: The final countdown for beef cattle readiness

March 6, 2018
Veterinary Feed Directive 2017: The final countdown for beef cattle readiness

Are cattle producers ready for the impending U.S. Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD)? Alltech has put together the latest info to separate fact from fiction.

Are cattle producers ready for the impending U.S. Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD)?

More than 550 days ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its updated regulations for the VFD, and now, in just a few short days, the rules will go into effect. Some producers are now scrambling to get clarity on this critically important new directive.

Alltech has put together the latest information to separate fact from fiction and make sure everyone is ready to make the most of the upcoming changes. Let’s start from the beginning:

What’s the VFD, again?

The Veterinary Feed Directive, or VFD, will restrict the use of medically important antibiotics in animal feed. On Jan. 1, 2017, it will be illegal to use certain antibiotics without a veterinary prescription, and affected antibiotics will only be available to prevent, control or treat a specifically identified disease.

Functionally, it will work as follows:

  • Feed companies and distributors must register with the FDA if distributing veterinary feed directive feeds.
  • Veterinarians will be prescribing veterinary feed directive drugs and must have pre-existing veterinary-client-patient relationship (VCPR); more on that below.
  • Veterinary feed directive prescriptions may be sent to distributors by veterinarians or by hard copy delivered by clients.
  • Drug manufacturers will be allowed to assist veterinarians and feed companies with the processing.

Which drugs will be affected by the Veterinary Feed Directive?

A full list is available through the FDA website, but some of the most commonly affected drugs are listed below.

Remember, the list below shows the generic names and not brand names, so be sure to review the appropriate end products.











What worries have some producers expressed about the Veterinary Feed Directive?

The language around a “pre-existing veterinary-client-patient relationship” within the VFD can be confusing. To break that down, generally, this relationship for a producer requires:

  • A veterinarian who is familiar with the producer’s operation.
  • A veterinarian who will assume responsibility for making medical decisions on the animals involved.
  • Medically timely visits to the premise.
  • A producer who agrees to follow veterinary directions.
  • A veterinarian who is available for follow-up as needed.

For additional insight, a complete list of VCPR criteria by state can be found here.

Dispelling Veterinary Feed Directive rumors: True and false facts

Information on the VFD can be found easily, but misinformation and incorrect rumors about what the VFD is can be just as common. As the start date approaches, what are the most common rumors that need to be dispelled?

Rumor: Feed-grade antibiotics are going away for good.

 That’s false. What is going away is the ability to use feed-grade antibiotics for growth promotion and other off-label uses.

Rumor: Injectable antibiotics will be banned.

That’s false. These will still be available over the counter as needed.

Rumor: The VFD will affect both small and large producers.

That’s true: Large or small, all producers who are found non-compliant will face a wide range of penalties ranging from fines to jail time.

Rumor: Water-soluble antibiotics are not affected.

That’s false. A prescription, not a VFD, will be necessary for medically important antibiotics used in drinking water.

What resources are available on the Veterinary Feed Directive?

Staying up-to-date on the latest information is key. Alltech highly recommends going straight to the source to get the most complete information. There are several comprehensive resources available online:

  • The FDA website. Here you can find brochures outlining the requirements for producers, veterinarians and feed distributors, whether or not they manufacture feed.
  • This FDA video gives an overview of the VFD.
  • The Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University has created free modules on the VFD.
  • In this webinar, Dr. Darrell Johnson from the University of Kentucky speaks in depth about the unique challenges faced by beef and dairy producers affected by the VFD.
  • WATT and GlobalVetLink put together this great infographic.
  • Your local agriculture extension office.

What comes next?

Alltech supports producers by promoting health and performance through nutritional feeding innovations. By bringing together over 35 years of research and practical application with state-of-the-art support tools, Alltech can provide technical expertise in the following management programs:

Alltech® Gut Health Management

Actigen®, Bio-Mos®, Integral® A+, Select TC™

Alltech® Mineral Management

Bioplex®, Sel-Plex®


Alltech® Feed Efficiency

Amaize®, Fibrozyme®, Optigen®, Yea-Sacc®

Full Feedlot Nutrition


Preparing for the VFD might seem difficult, but with planning, producers can have a smooth transition and bring new value to their operation. To learn more, contact your local Alltech office.