Daniel Scruggs, DVM, managing veterinarian at Zoetis, shares his answers to the most common questions cow/calf producers and veterinarians have about the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD).
Q: How does the VFD impact cow/calf operations?
A: The VFD affects cow/calf operations with weaned calves. If producers are weaning and backgrounding their own calves prior to sale day, they need to be prepared when they need medicated feed additives to treat and control respiratory disease. The use of medically important antibiotics, which includes all of those used to control or treat respiratory disease in feed, now requires a written VFD, and that can only be issued by a licensed veterinarian, based on a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR).
Q: For producers weaning calves, how do they continue receiving in-feed antimicrobials?
A: Producers benefit from having an established relationship with a veterinarian. The veterinarian needs to be familiar with the operation and its management and be comfortable writing VFDs for the producer, if in their professional judgment medicated feed is indicated. The producer can then get their medicated feed from a feed mill or a feed store to use as a top dress or in a complete feed. By waiting to have these conversations, producers could risk not having availability to necessary medicated feed additives when they need it.
Q: What is the benefit of the VFD?
A: The VFD increases veterinary oversight. This helps to assure that when feed-additive antibiotics are used, they are used at the right dose, for the right condition, for the right length of time and for the right reasons. Now, veterinarians will oversee and offer guidance on the specific level of medication going into feed to treat or prevent disease.
Q: How big of a concern is anaplasmosis treatment under the VFD?
A: Treating anaplasmosis is one of the main uses of AUREOMYCIN® in cow/calf operations, and this use now requires a VFD. Producers can plan to be thinking about whether anaplasmosis control is warranted on their operation and if so, what time of year is most critical to begin feeding anaplasmosis control mineral.
Q: With the complexity of the VFD, record-keeping and increased follow-up with clients, what are veterinarians charging for this service?
A: This can vary extensively with each veterinarian. On the part of the veterinarian, there is a regulatory commitment, a records-keeping commitment and a requirement to have a valid VCPR. That requires time on the veterinarian's part and an ongoing commitment to oversee and document responsible use. While there are costs for the service to the producer, complying under the VFD means deeper penetration into these operations, hopefully. And from my experience, the most profitable cattle operations frequently have the most veterinary input.
For more information on the VFD, visit CattleFeedAdditives.com.