Treatment Questions

New Rules May Change How Some Cattle Diseases Are Treated

Victoria G Myers
By  Victoria G. Myers , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Under the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) some common extra-label uses of antibiotics like chlortetracycline (CTC) will be eliminated as restrictions tighten their sale and allowed uses. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Becky Mills)

As the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) goes into effect, Mike Apley, with the Kansas State University college of veterinary medicine, said veterinarians must authorize any antibiotic use in feed. Exceptions include ionophores, bambermycins, bacitracin, tiamulin and Carbadox (the last two used in swine). All other antibiotics used in feed are classified "medically important" and will require a VFD.

Management and treatment of three common diseases -- pinkeye, anaplasmosis and foot rot -- may change under the VFD. Here's what producers need to know.

Pinkeye. Prevention, treatment and/or control is not currently listed on the labels of any of the feed-grade antibiotics currently approved. Therefore, use of antibiotics in a medicated feed or mineral to treat pinkeye is not allowed at this time. Products labeled to treat pinkeye include long-acting tetracycline and tulathromycin.

Anaplasmosis. Typically, anaplasmosis is treated with injectable oxytetracycline or chlortetracycline (CTC) fed through mineral or blocks to pasture cattle. This is a labeled use and, in endemic areas, would continue to be considered a viable option under the VFD. CTC is the only antimicrobial approved to be fed for anaplasmosis control, and it appears that will remain the case after the new rules become effective.

Foot Rot. While it has always been an extra-label use and, thus, illegal to feed CTC to prevent an outbreak of foot rot, under the VFD, producers will have to stick strictly to those products labeled for treatment of the disease. Those include: long-acting tetracycline, florfenicol and ceftiofur hydrochloride.

Apley said the need for a VFD extends to use of medicated milk replacers, range mineral and range cubes. A prescription will be required for water antibiotics and many injectables. Anticoccidials and dewormers used in feed are not medically important antibiotics, so a VFD will not be required.

At this time, one cattle drug currently requires a VFD: tilmicosin. As of January 2017, these drugs will also require a VFD: neomycin, tylosin, virginiamycin, chlortetracycline and oxytetracycline.

For updates on the VFD, see Kansas State University's


Victoria Myers