Veterinary Feed Directive: Part 1 The Basics, Responsibilities, and Drugs

In this podcast series, we will discuss the new changes to the Veterinary Feed Directive and what that means for you. UW-Extension agriculture agent, Sarah Mills-Lloyd, covers the basics about what you need to know to be in compliance with the new changes and what types of drugs will be affected.


Liz Binversie, Agriculture Educator, Brown County UW-Extension

Guest Speaker

Sarah Mills-Lloyd, Agriculture Agent, Oconto County UW-Extension


Time: 8:04 minutes

Additional Resources: 

United States Food and Drug Administration:

WisContext Article link:

VFD Spreadsheet:

New VFD (Veterinary Feed Directive) Record Keeping Tools Available

Original VFD article:

Veterinary Feed Directive

Judicious use of antimicrobials-affected drug list:

VFD Brochure:



Liz Binversie: Greetings! I’m Liz Binversie, Agriculture Educator for Brown County UW-Extension. There are key changes to the Veterinary Feed Directive going into effect on January 1, 2017. In this podcast series we’re going to talk about what those changes are and how it will affect producers. Please welcome the guest speaker today, Sarah Mills-Lloyd. She is the Agriculture Agent for Oconto County UW-Extension. Sarah, first off, what is the veterinary feed directive?

Sarah Mills-Lloyd: Liz, the Veterinary Feed Directive is a written or electronic—NOT VERBAL—statement issued by a licensed veterinarian in the course of a veterinarian’s professional practice with regards to feed grade antibiotics. This orders the use of a veterinary medicated feed or a combination of the feed in an animal’s feed and also authorizes the client to obtain and use the feed with the veterinary feed medication.

Liz Binversie: Sarah, what are producers’ responsibilities to be compliant with these new changes?

Sarah Mills-Lloyd: Producers should first have a valid veterinary client-patient relationship with your herd veterinarian. This means that the veterinarian is responsible for the medical judgments of the animals and the client is also responsible for following through with those decisions by the veterinarian and also to adhere to the decisions that they’ve made and the treatment of the animal. With that, then they also need to start a process of how they’re going to record information of the veterinary feed directive. This could be as simple as a notebook paper with a pen or it could be as sophisticated as a computer-generated excel spreadsheet. In addition, the valid veterinary client-patient relationship, the producer should also meet with the veterinarian to review all animal health management protocols, vaccination protocols, and medications currently being used on their operation. In addition to that, they might even have a discussion with their veterinarian in regards to medications that they currently use that might require, starting January 1st of 2017, a veterinary feed directive order or if those medications will remain over the counter.

Liz Binversie: So that covers what the producers have to do. What about the veterinarians? What’s their responsibility and their ownership of the new changes?

Sarah Mills-Lloyd: The veterinarian’s responsibility in the Veterinary Feed Directive is that they have to have a license to practice veterinary medicine in the state in which they authorize the Veterinary Feed Directive. They have to use Veterinary Feed Directive in compliance as with the laws, and they’re the ones that are preparing the completed Veterinary Feed Directive—be it either written or electronic—with all of the required information. Then they’re providing that to the client and/or distributor for the Veterinary Feed Directive so that the producer can gain access to that Veterinary Feed Directive medication. They also need to retain the records for two years of that Veterinary Feed Directive and also provide those orders upon inspection from the Food and Drug Administration.

Liz Binversie: Now the Veterinary Feed Directive doesn’t affect all the drugs used in livestock, so there’s still going to be drugs that producers can use that aren’t affected by the Veterinary Feed Directive. How can producers find out if the drug is a VFD drug or if they can still get it, if you will, over-the-counter.

Sarah Mills-Lloyd: With a Veterinary Feed Directive, we are really talking about feed grade antibiotics. In addition to the Veterinary Feed Directive, there’s back components to this of guidance for industry from the government which have outlined judicious use of antibiotics and really reserving animal health products related to antibiotics which are important for human health. The classes of those drugs include penicillins, glycopeptides, cephalosporins, tetracyclines, macrolides, quinolones, sulfas, and fluroquinolones. Examples include many of those key components in those classes of drugs where the Veterinary Feed Directive is differing what we currently have. There’s uses no longer allowed and those are production uses which enhance growth or improve feed efficiency. Label claims of those will be diminishing throughout the remainder of this year and next year those uses will no longer be allowed. Whether or not a producers need to know if the drug is over-the-counter, there are actual tables through the Food and Drug Administration that can be accessed online. But also, starting that communication with your veterinarian, they should also know if those drugs are over the counter or if it will become a feed directive order that they need to obtain.

Liz Binversie: You bring up a really good point, Sarah, is that we’re really just talking about the drugs that are used in feed. We’re not talking about the drugs that would be injected or whatnot.

Sarah Mills-Lloyd: That would be correct and also the other key component to the Veterinary Feed Directive is that they are allowed to use prescription animal medications in an extra-label drug use form. However, with the Veterinary Feed Directive and those key components underneath what entails in the Veterinary Feed Directive and certain antibiotics related to that, extra-label drug use is no longer allowed nor can the veterinarian actually prescribe it in such manner to clients.

Liz Binversie: Sarah, what if I want to use a VFD drug in combination with another drug. How does that go about? What’s the process? Is that even allowed?

Sarah Mills-Lloyd: Veterinary Feed Drugs used in combination can be allowed, but there are certain specific combinations that are allowable. That would be where that communication with your veterinarian and establishing that relationship is very important to understand right now so farmers can look at their management practices and whether or not that certain medications in their protocols even should be there currently. That’s one thing as producers I would say right now at this point in time to start that communication with your veterinarian so that you would actually have steps outlined before January 1st and one of those would be sitting down with your veterinarian to look at your protocols for how you manage your animals on your premise. Some of that would really fall into whether or not certain medications actually need to be used on your farm.

Liz Binversie: So Sarah, a lot of folks out there are wondering what’s the process? How do I get a VFD feed now that the changes are going into effect here January 1?

Sarah Mills-Lloyd: In order to obtain a Veterinary Feed Directive you need to have a valid veterinary-client patient relationship with your veterinarian and that veterinarian then would write down the specific drug and there’s a certain form that requires certain aspects on that form to be filled out. It’s through that valid patient-client relationship that the veterinarian would actually write an order of the Veterinary Feed Directive for the producer which, depending on the situation, either the veterinarian could electronically send that to the feed distributor or that individual, the farmer, would have a hard copy, a written copy, that they could take to the feed distributor to obtain that Veterinary Feed Directive medication.

Liz Binversie: Great, well thank you Sarah for being on the podcast today and telling us about the new Veterinary Feed Directive changes and how that can affect our producers. Stay tuned for our next episode where we’re going to go into a little more detail about some of the logistics and other details with the Veterinary Feed Directive changes.