Veterinary Feed Directive

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has changed federal laws regarding the use of antibiotics in feed for livestock. These changes will go into effect Jan. 1, 2017.
What does this mean?
Producers will need to obtain a veterinary feed directive (VFD) from a veterinarian to use some feed-administered medications.
Included are oxytetracycline, chlortetracycline and tylosin.
Why the change?
The FDA has changed the law regarding the use of some medically important antibiotics to minimize the opportunity for drug-resistant organisms to develop.
When is a VFD required?
A VFD must be granted prior to purchasing VFD drugs. Veterinarians will be heavily involved in training in the coming months. A VFD drug is limited to use under the professional supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
What does professional supervision mean?
The veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) is the basis of professional supervision. The veterinarian writing the VFD must be licensed to practice in the state the VFD is issued, have sufficient knowledge of the animal(s), and be available for emergency follow-up if needed.
How do I know if a drug is a VFD?
It will be indicated on the label.
How does a producer obtain VFD feed?
Producers must obtain a VFD order from a veterinarian, then send (or take) the order to a feed manufacturer or supplier to obtain the VFD feed.
Producers who manufacture feed for others should be aware that they are acting as a distributor and additional requirements apply. More information on manufacturing and distributing VFD feeds is available at
What is a VCPR?
Producers must have a valid Veterinary Client Patient Relationship (VCPR) with their veterinarian. A VCPR is required for a veterinarian to issue a VFD.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), a VCPR must meet the following requirements:
  • The veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making clinical judgments regarding the health of the patient and the client has agreed to follow the veterinarian's instructions.
  • The veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the patient to initiate at least general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the patient. This means that the veterinarian is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of the patient by virtue of a timely examination of the patient by the veterinarian, or medically appropriate and timely visits by the veterinarian to the operation where the patient is managed.
  • The veterinarian provides oversight of treatment, compliance and outcome. Patient records are maintained.
Client's Responsibilities
A client/producer must:
  • Only feed feedstuffs containing a VFD drug/combination to animals as prescribed by a licensed veterinarian.
  • Not feed a VFD feed/combination to animals after the expiration date on the VFD.
  • Provide a copy of the VFD order to the feed distributor (unless the issuing veterinarian sends it directly to the distributor).
  • Maintain a copy of the VFD order for a minimum of 2 years.
  • Provide VFD orders for inspection upon request.

Our stewardship responsibility is to use all of these in a judicious manner and to demonstrate to the consuming public a greater awareness and accountability.

What is not covered?
Water-soluble medications require a prescription, not a VFD. This rule does not affect ionophores such as Bovatec, Rumensin, and anti-coccidial drugs.
More details are available through your veterinarian or at
Producers need to start preparations before the VFD rule goes into effect.
  • Strengthen relationships with your feed supplier and establish a VCPR with your veterinarian, enlisting their help as you review your operation's current health protocols.
  • Evaluate the various rations and feeds in your operation and identify the ones that include shared-class antibiotics affected by VFD rules.
  • Work with your veterinarian and feed supplier to update standard operating procedures (SOPs) for antibiotic use, and begin training employees on the revised SOPs.
  • Mark your calendar to review SOPs at regular intervals, to ensure that your health protocols remain up-to-date and effective.
North Dakota Stockmen's Association * 407 S. 2nd St. * Bismarck, ND 58504 * 701-223-2522 *