What is the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD)?

The “Veterinary Feed Directive” is a new document that better allows the government to audit the use of oral antibiotics used in Beef Production.  Why do we care?  Well, there is concern both in animals and humans that we are seeing a rise in bacteria that are becoming resistant to our commonly used antibiotics. This means that therapy success goes down

Cattle on feed

Why is this happening? Okay, there is enough blame to go around. Some say it is the overuse of antibiotics in human illness that has viral origin. (Therefore not effective) Unless you do comprehensive laboratory work ups you don’t know exactly what is causing the problem. They say ear-aches in young children are a good example of this. Also because of relaxed pharmacy laws in many of the countries around the world, self-medication is common.Beef treatment

The other concern, when you look at the numbers, is a vast majority of the antibiotics used in the United States, goes into animals. Much of it is oral. I would suspect that poultry requires the most antibiotics because of their complicated respiratory systems and rapid growth.

This means that there is a fine balance between animal health and well being and prudent antibiotic use on the part of the veterinarian. Believe me, this really concerns my peers in food animal medicine for two good reasons. One, prudent antibiotic use is good medicine and second, it’s the right thing to do.

Next time I would like to talk about which oral antibiotics are used in beef cattle and for what reasons. In the next installment I will describe the VFD itself and to whom it goes, to help insure that we are practicing good antibiotic stewardship.

By: Scott MacGregor, DVM