Veterinary Feed Directive Impacts Feed-Grade Antibiotics

by Megan Van Emon, Ph.D. – MSU Extension Beef Cattle Specialist

The new Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) rule will change how medically important antibiotics are fed to livestock.  The rule does NOT include the use of injectable antibiotics.  Previously, feed-grade antibiotics have been labeled for control, treatment, prevention, growth promotion, and feed efficiency.  The VFD rule results in the removal of the statements and uses of feed-grade antibiotics for growth promotion and feed efficiency.

Guidance for Industry proposal #209 concerns the use of medically important antibiotics in food-producing animals.  Guidance for Industry proposal #213 focuses on the drug companies and recommending they voluntarily align their products with GFI #209.  Medically important antibiotics are those that are used in both human and animal medicine.

The two main proposals of GFI #209 are: 1. use of medically important antibiotics will be limited to therapeutic uses only; and 2. use of medically important antibiotics for food-producing animals will be limited to those that have veterinary oversight.  The main proposal of GFI #213 asks the drug companies producing medically important feed-grade antibiotics to voluntarily remove production (ie. growth promotion and feed efficiency) claims from the labels and moving the over-the-counter products to VFD or prescription status.

Additionally, a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship (VCPR) is required for veterinarians to issue a VFD.  A valid VCPR includes: 1. the veterinarian assumes the responsibility for medical judgements and animal health and the client agrees to follow veterinarian instructions; 2. the veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the animal(s) to initiate medical treatment and makes timely visits; and 3. the veterinarian is available for follow-up care and evaluation.  If you currently do not have a valid VCPR, building this relationship prior to the VFD implementation may be a good idea.

A valid VFD consists of paperwork filled out by the veterinarian that contains the veterinarian information, clients information, description of animals and location, VFD drug information, why is the VFD being issued, level of VFD in the feed, duration of use, date, and withdrawal time.  All VFDs will require the statement: “Use of feed containing this veterinary feed directive drug in a manner other than as directed on the labeling (extra label use), is not permitted” and the veterinarian’s written or electronic signature.  The veterinarian is required to maintain the original VFD form with copies being provided to the feed distributor and producer.


As we move closer to the implementation of the new Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) rule, the MSU Extension Beef Cattle Program will be conducting educational meetings throughout the state this summer.

Date City Location
July 26 Kalispell Flathead Co. Fairgrounds
August 3 Miles City USDA-ARS Fort Keogh
August 4 Billings TBD
August 9 Glasgow Cottonwood Inn & Suites
August 10 Havre MSU-NARC
August 11 Lewistown Eagles
August 16 Sidney TBD
August 24 Butte TBD
August 25 Missoula TBD



To learn more about the VFD and the informational meetings please contact Megan Van Emon at 406.874.8286 or at

About Author

Montana Stockgrowers Association

The Montana Stockgrowers Association, a non-profit membership organization, has worked on behalf of Montana’s cattle ranching families since 1884. Our mission is to protect and enhance Montana ranch families’ ability to grow and deliver safe, healthy, environmentally wholesome beef to the world.

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