Livestock Health and the Veterinary Feed Directive
Jan 23, 2017 | 1488 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print


There is a new rule in town regarding the purchase and use of livestock feed containing medication. It has caught enough attention that I’ve invited a Beef Cattle Specialist from Overton to come and visit with local producers this coming Monday, Jan 23 at 5:30 pm. Our featured speaker, Jason Banta, is a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Beef Cattle Specialist at the Overton Research Center.

His topics will include the Veterinarian Feed Directive (VFD) and other topics. There is a $10 fee for Monday night’s program.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about it. “What is the reason for this new rule?” “Will I be able to get the same medicated feed?” And even “Will this make beef more expensive?”

Looking to the VFD, let’s review what it is.

Before enacting the VFD in 1996, the FDA recognized two categories of animal drugs: over-the-counter and prescription. Because requiring prescriptions for animal feeds containing antibiotics was considered impractical, medicated feeds were classified as over-the-counter.

In 1996, the FDA added a third category, VFD drugs, to the list. Significant amendments, known as the Second VFD Rule, were published in June 2015. The VFD concept attempts to balance the need for antibiotic use to protect animal health with concern about how the overuse of antibiotics both in the livestock industry and in human medicine might contribute to antibiotic resistance.

The revised VFD rules ensure that antimicrobial drugs are used for therapeutic (to treat sick animals), rather than production purposes and that licensed veterinarians supervise such use.

Will you be able to get medicated feed? Yes, provided you have veterinarian give you a “feed directive.” Now, just like prescribed medication, a vet will have to provide you with instruction and proper documentation to purchase medicated feed.

As every good stockman knows, you must have a good relationship with a competent veterinarian. Such a relationship has, and continues to be an asset to any livestock operation.

Finally, will it make beef cost more? When I was first asked this question (by a reporter for a radio station out of our listening area), I honestly laughed aloud and said, “I sure hope so!” You see, prices for live cattle at our local auction barns are nearly half what they were two years ago.

Regaining my composure, I explained that it wouldn’t. While it will be another inconvenience to livestock producers everywhere, I’m sure that it will be a cost, once again, born by the stockman. There are just too many other major factors in the marketplace. Consider the grain markets, the number of domestic and imported beef in the market, the strength of our currency in the international economy, and so many other factors that drive the price of beef up and down.

This extra trip to the local vet for a paper won’t be felt at the meat counter in your grocery store.

Mr. Banta and veterinarian Randall Spencer will be available to answer a multitude of other questions for those at the seminar. Livestock producers, veterinarians and all others who wish to attend are welcome. 

For more information on this and other Upshur County Extension seminars, call 903-843-4019.


Shaniqua Davis is the County Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources for Upshur County. Her email address is

The members of Texas A&M AgriLife will provide equal opportunities in programs and activities, education, and employment to all persons regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation or gender identity and will strive to achieve full and equal employment opportunity throughout Texas A&M AgriLife.


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