Pig Health

VFD knowledge check: The devil is in the details

September 1, 2016
VFD Quiz

World Pork Expo is always a great opportunity to connect directly with pork producers and listen to the concerns they have and the challenges they face every day on the farm. This year, not surprisingly, there was a lot of discussion about the changes the new Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) regulation will bring. In those discussions, however, I was surprised to hear many producers plan to rely on their farms’ veterinarians to lead them through the changes. To ensure successful implementation of the new VFD, producers need to take the lead in preparing their farms. To help producers think about what they need to do to prepare for Jan. 1, 2017, we facilitated a quiz on the VFD changes at the Zoetis booth at World Pork Expo.

Although most pork producers are aware of the changes the new VFD will bring as of Jan. 1, 2017, results from our quiz identified knowledge gaps that suggest ongoing education is needed to help ensure producers understand the details of the regulation. Below are insights gained from more than 200 producers who participated in the quiz.

Moving in the right direction

–  Given a choice, the majority of respondents were aware of which products required a VFD.

– Nearly 3 in 4 understood that to use a medically important antibiotic in the feed or water, a VFD for feed medications and a prescription for water medications will be required.

-Two-thirds were aware VFDs will be valid for varying lengths of time.

-The majority understood veterinarians cannot issue a VFD for a medically important antibiotic for off-label use. This it true regardless of whether a medication is medically important or non-medically important. Feed additives are not to be used in an extra-label manner.

– The majority understood preparation must begin now and the steps needed to adequately plan for full VFD implementation Jan. 1, 2017.


Room for improvement

– On average, participants scored 62%, which provides a benchmark to measure progress.

– Approximately 1 in 5 did not understand the change for water medications from over-the-counter to prescription status.

– Forty-five percent did not know the length of time a VFD would apply for a specific feed additive. Only one-third understood VFDs were valid for six months.

– Nearly 3 in 4 did not understand that a producer, veterinarian and the feed mill must store copies of the VFD.

-Forty-two percent believed a veterinarian can issue a VFD for a medically important antibiotic for off-label use, which is not permitted for feed additives.


In a situational question, we explored how double stocking in a time of high output in a sow unit may affect the original VFD written for a fewer number of pigs. Although the situation is not universal, it points to the need for producers to really think through their farms’ unique situations. VFDs cannot be adjusted after they are written. If double stocking is a routine practice, it might be beneficial to list that approximation on the original VFD. Otherwise, a new VFD may be required.


Moving forward

– As the deadline approaches, it’s important to dive into the details of the new regulation and understand all the implications for your farm.

– Preparing for the new VFD regulation requires action by everyone. Producers, veterinarians and people working at feed mills need to prepare and understand roles and responsibilities.

– Involving veterinarians in this process is paramount. Take every opportunity to work with your veterinarian to review label claims and conduct a VFD trial run prior to Jan. 1, 2017.

– It’s always a good time to review responsible use principles. Take this time to review different rules for extra-label or off-label prescriptions for injectable antibiotics, water solubles and medicated feed additives.

– Every farm is unique. Therefore, plan to run through situational examples to help think through scenarios that may be unique to your farm and implications they have under the new VFD regulation.

– Get started today.

  1. Establish a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) with a veterinarian if you haven’t already.
  2. Make sure your feed supplier and your veterinarian know each other.
  3. Examine your feed protocols with your veterinarian to ensure your feeding stages are aligned with the label claims of the VFD products you intend to use.
  4. Conduct a trial run of the new VFD process in fall 2016.


Test your knowledge

Click here to take our VFD quiz for yourself. It will take approximately five minutes, and you can review your results to see what areas you need to improve upon.


If you have questions about the VFD and implications for your farm, contact your Zoetis representative or visit ResponsibleAntibioticUse.com.