More planning required for feed medications in new VFD era

Planning, paperwork and prevention are the priorities on hog farms in response to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) expanded veterinary feed directive (VFD), which came onto the scene in January 2017.
calendar icon 20 March 2018
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Most swine veterinarians worked to prepare their clients ahead of FDA’s changes to on-farm use of medically important antibiotics. Now the focus is on ensuring everyone, from the producer to feed delivery, understands the order of things so that the process runs smoothly. At the heart of that change are the documentation and paperwork requirements all along the way.

“You can’t wait until the last minute to make a (medication) decision and get the paperwork through,” Carissa Odland, DVM, Pipestone Veterinary Services told Pig Health Today. “It has stimulated us to have more conversations with our producers to make sure we’re using the right medication, at the right time, for the right health issue.”

It’s those kinds of logistical issues that have produced the biggest changes for producers and veterinarians.

With more than a year of experience with the VFD expansion, Odland hasn’t seen any major changes in diseases or swine health, but preventative actions are gaining emphasis during farm visits. These include such steps as targeting vaccination protocols, biosecurity, minimizing stressors and ensuring a building’s environment is pristine and ready for new pig arrivals.

“We’ve always tried to do this, but there’s even more of a push to get ahead of health challenges and keep the pigs as healthy as possible,” she said. Closely monitoring pig groups, reviewing and changing medications as needed, and using individual pig treatments versus treating the whole group are increasingly common on-farm actions.

As veterinarians and producers continue to move through changes in antimicrobial use, additional tools, processes and options will surface. “We’re collecting a log of data, which is an important step,” Odland said. “But it’s going to take some time before we understand the true impact of that knowledge and that data.”

Something that Odland is intrigued by for the future is the One Health Initiative, which addresses antimicrobial use and interaction between humans, animals and the environment. She noted that it illustrates how everyone plays a role in the judicious use of antimicrobials and how that impacts the whole — a message she shares as she sits down with producers.

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