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VFD Resources for Show Animals

January 31, 2017

January 1st marked the effective start date of the veterinary feed directive (VFD) regulations. During the January 4th Animal Care Wednesday Webinar we heard from two great speakers on resources for show animals regarding these new VFD regulations. Bernie O’Rourke, University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension Youth Livestock Specialist, shared how Wisconsin prepared their youth exhibitor families with information on the VFD regulations. Rob Eirich, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Educator and Director of Beef Quality Assurance, reviewed some of the background to the regulation and provided additional resources.

Wisconsin’s VFD Strategy
Since the new VFD regulations apply to all sectors of the livestock industries, commercial producers to show animals, Wisconsin took a proactive, multi-disciplinary approach to increasing awareness and providing educational resources. A team was formed and led by Extension Youth Livestock Specialist, Bernie O’Rourke, which included: an Extension veterinarian, dairy youth specialist, an outreach specialist, and a graphic designer.

“It was important to the team that youth and parents received and heard this information multiple times, O’Rourke stated.”

This team’s main goal was to develop a fact sheet, a complete promotional plan for 2016, and create a VFD resource website. O’Rourke also emphasized, “Three main parts to the topic that the team wanted our clientele to know were: have a VCPR (Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship) with your veterinarian, have a relationship with your feed supplier and lastly keep records for 2 years.”

The 2016 promotional plan kicked off during summer regional livestock judging contests for all species. To reach all state fair exhibitors, the VFD fact sheet was included with each livestock registration packet. An additional resource for swine caregivers is a map of Wisconsin that shows the location of all veterinarians providing services to this species; this was critical in assisting youth swine exhibitors given the limited number of practicing swine veterinarians across the state. A specific lesson in the Meat Animal Quality Assurance curriculum was dedicated to the VFD. Additionally, the fact sheet was shared with all Extension, agricultural teachers, and staff for livestock weigh-ins and emailed to all exhibitors again in December. The final method of getting the word out about the new VFD regulations and the impacts to youth livestock projects was utilizing social media platforms.

Nebraska’s Approach
Rob Eirich reiterated the importance of increasing awareness through multiple methods of outreach. He reminded listeners that the reason for the new VFD regulations stems from concerns to minimize antibiotic resistance to the antimicrobials we have today for both humans and animals. Many times we forget that antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria have existed for decades! Eirich provided two examples: Penicillin was introduced in 1943, but resistant strains to Penicillin were actually identified in 1940; Tetracyclines were introduced in 1950 and resistant strains of bacteria were identified in 1959.

A few key points regarding the VFD were provided:

  • Youth (and their parents) need to talk to a veterinarian AND their feed supplier if they decide to feed products to their animals.
  • Youth should have a written herd health plan and treatment plan for vaccines and the potential diseases their animal may encounter.
  • Ensure proper diagnosis of illnesses before choosing a treatment.
  • Establish a valid Veterinary-Client-Patient-Relationship (VCPR) to get a valid VFD.
  • Feed all products as directed by the VFD and veterinarian’s directions.
  • Maintain all treatment and medicated feed records for 2 years.

“The Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR) has always been the top priority of Quality Assurance programs. The VFD regulation stresses the importance of that relationship and building a strong herd/flock health plan for those animals entrusted into our care!”

Both O’Rourke and Eirich stressed the importance of being proactive by initiating conversations with a veterinarian and feed supplier, and keeping records for 2 years for animals raised as youth livestock projects. Additional conversations with your state’s 4-H office and any show managers will ensure that you are well-prepared for the 2017 show season.

Resources Available
The Veterinary Feed Directive will have a period of learning in its first year of being in effect. To help you understand the regulations and expectations of the VFD, check out these resources:

Source: Heidi Carroll, South Dakota State University, iGrow