The Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) June 2, should have limited effect on dairy farmers, says Jamie Jonker, vice president of sustainability and regulatory affairs for the National Milk Producers Federation.
The document is more than 100 pages long, so it has taken industry experts some time to wade through it all. “It doesn’t appear to be much different than what was proposed in 2013,” says Jonker.
Its purpose is to bring additional veterinary oversight for the therapeutic use of “medically important” antibiotics administered in feed or water. Through Guidance 213 , FDA is already phasing out the use of “medically important” antibiotics in feed or water for growth promotion and disease prevention, which theoretically should reduce antibiotic resistance in both animals and humans. Shared use, medically important drugs that are used in human medicine will no longer be able to be used in non-therapeutic ways.
Ionophores, which are typically used to improve feed efficiency or to control coccidiosis, are not used in human medicine. So they will continue to be allowed.
The biggest impact of the final VFD for dairy farmers and heifer raisers could be in medicated milk replacers. More than half of milk replacers are currently medicated. A good chunk of these are medicated with coccidiostats to control coccidiosis, which is prevalent on many farms. These do not fall under the VFD unless they are fed in combination with shared-use antibiotics.
But some portion of milk replacers are medicated with oxyneo, which is a combination of oxytetracycline and neomycin. It’s used to prevent and control bacterial pneumonia and scours. Both oxytetracycline and neomycin are on FDA’s Guidance 152 list of shared compounds medically important to humans. The new VFD will now likely require farmers to have a veterinary prescription for their use.
Prescriptions from veterinarians must include the number of animals treated, what disease is being treated and withdrawal periods. For their part, farmers must agree to feed according to the VFD and maintain records for one year.
The VFD goes into full effect December 13, 2016.