Shanna Carroll

Shanna Carroll

In 2017 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) implemented stricter rules to regulate how antibiotics could be administered to animals through their feed or drinking water.

There were many revisions made, one of the biggest being the requirement of veterinary oversight whenever antibiotics are to be given to any food animal species. A prescription, known as a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), became a requirement to obtain any of these feed additives containing antibiotics.

So why the big change after all these years? The reason behind it is preventing antibiotic resistance.

By requiring a prescription for these drugs, we are not only creating a better veterinarian-client patient relationship by increasing communication and interaction between the producer and the vet, but we are also trying to eliminate the possibility of unnecessary or inappropriate usage of antibiotics – which causes resistance.

A veterinarian now must physically see the animals to determine, first whether there is a legitimate need for the antibiotics, and second what the appropriate dosage, duration and administration will be. These things can no longer be decided by the producer or the feed mill.

Resistance is the ability not to be affected by something, especially adversely. It really doesn’t sound like that big of a problem, right? Can’t you just give a higher dose so that it works again? Or just switch to something else?

Wrong. This was the issue the FDA was facing. Before the requirement of the VFD there was no way to ensure that the animals receiving the medication actually needed it, or whether it was being given correctly.

If we were to have allowed this to continue the probability of animals developing an opposition to necessary medications would have continued to increase.

Why is this such an issue? There are only so many antibiotics in the world. Animals and humans alike are becoming immune to them faster than new products can be created and approved for use. By taking all of the necessary precautions put into place we will hopefully cut down on the probability of resistance.

These new rules were a huge shift, and many producers were against the idea entirely. The most common complaints was that it now takes longer to acquire the feed additive because of all the steps involved. The fact that many, if not most, veterinarians will charge a fee for writing a VFD or doing a farm call was not very popular either.

The new regulations have taken some getting used to, but most have understood that they are for the better of the animal production industry.

Questions? Send email to Eric Knock, DVM, at or send mail to 321 E. 14th St., Miller, SD 57362. Eric Knock owns and operates Prairie View Vet Clinic in Miller, Redfield, Wessington Springs and Highmore, S.D.