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Veterinary Feed Directive

Understanding the Veterinary Feed Directive

As of January 2017 the FDA has made changes to the use of several antibiotics that have been commonly used in animal feeds.  As a way to regulate these antibiotics, the FDA has created the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) .

In order to purchase feed (this included minerals feed alone or used with grain-based feeds) containing the regulated antibiotics animal producers will now need a VFD from their veterinarian.

Below is a short overview of the new process:

Veterinary Feed Directives


So, in addition to the cartoon above, we have developed answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the VFD.

While the answers might not be comprehensive, we hope that they provide a solid foundation for understanding VFD’s.

You can also contacts us if you have additional questions.


Frequently Asked Questions about VFDs

Q1 –  What is a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD)?

A1 – The VFD is a document that is necessary for the purchase of feeds (grain, forage, and/or minerals) containing antibiotics that are now regulated by the FDA. A list of the regulated products is avaialble on the FDA website:  https://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/ucm482107.htm


Q2 – Who can write me a veterinary feed directive?

A2 – Only a licensed veterinarian can write a VFD.

  • In addition, the veterinarian must have a VPCR (veterinary-client-patient-relationship) with you the producer.   This means that the veterinarian must have a working knowledge of your farm, animals, production goals, etc.   Learn more here: https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/VCPR.aspx


Q3 – Do I need a veterinary feed directive for injectable antibiotics?

A3 – A VFD is only necessary for using antibiotics that will be put into a feed.

  • Some injectable antibiotics are still over-the-counter (i.e. LA200, penicillin) and others require a PRESCRIPTION (not a VFD).


Q4 – Why would I need to give antibiotics in my feed/mineral?

A4 –  This depends on your production system. For example:  the most common use of antibiotics in feed/mineral  of cattle is for the control of anaplasmosis.


Q5 -Can I still use antibiotics in feed to increase growth?

A5 – A VFD can only be written for a labeled use of an antibiotic – NOT extra-label uses.  There are currently no antibiotics that are labeled for use in feed to promote growth.  (Bovitec is an anti-protozoal drug that is sometimes use as a growth promotant and does NOT require a VDF)


Q6 – Can I just buy the antibiotic and then mix it in my feed myself?

A6 – As of this writing, it is still possible to buy the antibiotic to add to the feed yourself, however, to be in compliance with Federal law you would need a VFD before you mix and feed the antibiotic.  Due to the liability involved in this scenario we do NOT write VDF’s for this purpose.


Q7 – What happens if I do not have a veterinary feed directive but feed antibiotics to my animals?

A7 – Each State will have compliance officers that will enforce the federal regulation on feeding antibiotics. Fines can be as much as $20,000 per offense.  Your veterinarian is also subject to inspection/compliance in terms of writing the VDF correctly, as well as maintaining records and a valid VPCR (see A2).


Q8 – This VFD that you wrote has two different items checked. What does that mean?

A8 – This means that you can either buy a commercial product or a “home mixed” feed (mixed at a local mill) that is not labeled for “free-choice” feeding and feed it daily (option #4)…OR… you may purchase a product labeled for “free-choice” feeding (option #5).


Q9 – What does “free-choice” mean? What does “hand fed” mean?


  • “Free-choice” means that you put the feed out in quantities that will last more than one day and it is arranged in such as way so that the animals can go and eat as much as they want to at any time.
  • “Hand fed” means that you will provide no more than one day’s ration to each animal (or herd) each day, such that there is NO left over feed at the end of the day.


Q10 – My neighbor got a VFD written for a product with a lower amount of antibiotic which is cheaper. Why is mine written for a higher amount?

A10 – Your VFD is written so that the largest animal on your farm will receive the minimum amount of medication needed to control the disease process for which it is labeled.

  • For instance: If you have cows that are on average 1200# but your bulls weight 2000# and all the animals are fed together, the medicated feed needs to have enough antibiotic to protect the heavier bulls.  The lighter cows will not be harmed by having a slightly larger dose than is minimally necessary.


Q11 – You gave my neighbor two VFD forms, why did he need two?

A11 – If you have two animal groups in different locations (e.g. cows in one pasture, bulls in another) and they are significantly different in weights (e.g. cows = 1200#, bulls = 2000#), it is economically to your advantage to feed the lighter animals a lower amount of antibiotics (less costly) than the heavier.

  • If you prefer not to keep two different products, a single VFD can be written so that all the animals receive the higher dose (see previous answer).


Q12 – Ok, I have the veterinary feed directive, but where do I get my medicated feeds?

A12 – This depends on if you are going to hand feed the animals every day or want to use a “free choice” product.

  • Where do I get “hand-fed” feeds?
    1. There are many commercial products and specialty mixed feeds available at various Coop and feed mills across the state of Alabama/Mississippi. We advise that you call your local suppliers and ask what they have available that meets the requirements of your herd per the VFD.
  • Where do I get “free-choice” feeds?
    1. There are currently two products labeled for “free-choice” feeding:
      • MoorMan’s® Special Range Minerals AU 168XFE.  Contact: Jason Edmondson 334-447-0509.
      • Zoetis free-choice mineral formulation with Aureomycin®. There are currently at least two feed mills in Alabama capable of producing this product.  For more information you can contact the Zoetis representative Billy Arrighi at 334-339-1818.


Q13 – What if my local Coop/feed mill does not carry the product that my veterinary feed directive specifies?

A13 – Unfortunately, at this time there are a limited amount of products for which a VFD can be written.   Because of this it might be necessary for you to purchase from another location that carries the correct product (see above).    As new/additional labeled products become available we will likely be adding them as options on our VFD forms.

  • Hopefully there will be more feed mills that will begin to produce the currently labeled mixes. We advise that you check your local mills/coops regularly.
  • You can contact your local Coop about ordering you the product that your VFD specifies.
  • You might also search for other options online.

Please contacts us if you need a Veterinary Feed Directive or have additional questions.