So far, so good: Pork producers adjusting well to new VFD rules

Implementation of the new veterinary feed directive (VFD) in swine has gone smoothly in the field, according to Chris Rademacher, DVM, Iowa State University Extension.
calendar icon 31 August 2017
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“It has forced more producers to interact with veterinarians,” he told Pig Health Today. “Before, they could get these antibiotics off the shelf from their local feed store without a vet involved.”

Now, he added, producers and veterinarians must discuss if the antibiotic is needed, resulting in a more judicious use of the medications.

Inspections for education, not enforcement

Because a few swine feed medications required VFDs before the new and much broader rules took effect Jan. 1, 2017, the pork industry was somewhat familiar with the process.

FDA inspections are possible during this first year of the new VFD. “But FDA has been very clear the inspections will be educational for producers as long as you are trying to do everything right,” Rademacher said. “They will work on education before enforcement.”

Not all antibiotics fall under a VFD, however. A few antibiotics used in pork production — bacitracin, carbadox, ionophores and tiamulin — are not considered medically important by FDA and therefore retained all of their indications.

Still, producers do have many questions about VFDs, Rademacher added. A typical one: Are contract growers required to hold a copy of the VFD? While the owner is responsible to obtain the VFD, the contractor should have quick access to it either with a physical copy, by e-mail or on a website.

Another question related to pulse dosing. Is a VFD required for each pulse dose? Yes, the veterinarian should write two VFDs for two times feeding an antibiotic to the same animals.

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