Having a more hands-on strategy with your producers’ feeding programs has never been more important. In fact, soon the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  will likely require this topic zips to the top of your to-do list.

Undoubtedly, compliance will involve additional paperwork. It also offers an opportunity for veterinarians, producers and nutritionists to work together to reevaluate feeding strategies—getting ahead of the curve on the impending FDA guidance and potentially improving producer profitability and animal health.

Before the end of the year, it’s expected the FDA will finalize “Guidance for Industry” (GFI) No. 213, which will define the procedures for achieving the goals of GFI 209. The two intended outcomes of GFI 209 are: Removing growth promotion claims, and adding the requirement for veterinary authorization of feed and water uses for antibiotics important in human medicine. However, it’s expected these products will still retain their approved uses for prevention, control and treatment of livestock diseases.

Doug Hufstedler

While the final FDA guidance is expected to occur this year, a period of transition will allow all involved to make adjustments. Getting involved in clients’ feeding strategies now can give you, and your clients, a jump on the regulation.

How To Get Involved

“Many veterinarians haven’t been routinely involved in usage of these products, and they are going to need to be very much involved in the future. Now is the time to learn the jargon around the feed mill industry and how to prescribe products going into feed,” says Sam Ives, DVM, Associate Director of Outcomes Research with Zoetis. “We’ve got to educate ourselves so when we do have questions asked of us, we are knowledgeable and confident.”

One step in getting involved is to simply be present when feeding decisions are being made. When meetings with the nutritionist are held, joining around the same table can contribute to a collaborative atmosphere. This can also help avoid misinformation before it starts, notes Dr. Ives.

“We have traditionally always been in the discussions around animal health, but we need to get better about talking production and closeouts,” he says. “That’s what nutritionists excel at. What we can bring to the table is epidemiological tools—helping make better decisions as to what animals are at greater risk for a BRD [bovine respiratory disease] outbreak and would benefit from treatment or control efforts in the feed, for example.”

Dr. Doug HufstedlerWhile veterinarians can certainly add a new perspective to a customer’s feeding strategy, the new dynamic will require more communication and time to work out the kinks, advises Doug Hufstedler, Ph.D., Nutritionist and Beef Technical Advisor for Elanco Animal Health.

“Think of the VFD [Veterinary Feed Directive] process as three cogs in a multi-gear system,” he says. “The producer is the one with the animals that may need to be treated. The veterinarian will be responsible for health protocols and VFDs. The nutritionist will have to implement the VFD into the producer’s feeding program. When the gears are talking, working and staying in communication, the process of the future will work much more smoothly.”

Focusing on a beef production systems approach can help set the stage for a cooperative discussion, Hufstedler recommends.


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“The animal health protocol a vet implements will be more successful when combined with a very well balanced, high quality nutrition program,” he says. “Vets and nutritionists working together can often create an optimal result for producers.”

As veterinarians and nutritionists work more closely, Hufstedler believes the animal health benefits of feed additive products will be reawakened in the minds of producers.

“Sometimes people have forgotten the health impact,” he says. “For example, most people associate Rumensin® with the performance impacts—feed efficiency with feedlot animals and mature cows as well as improved average daily gain in stockers. We often forget to reinforce the impact it also has on disease by preventing and controlling coccidiosis in all stages of production, which is actually how it came to the marketplace.”