How Will the Veterinary Feed Directive Change Antibiotic Use?
Dr. Liz Wagstrom
It’s been a very long road to the January 2017 implementation of the U.S. Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). The first regulatory action concerning antibiotic resistance was implemented in 2003. For many years prior to that, the FDA had been studying the potential for antibiotic use in animals to have a public health impact.
“Before the VFD rule and Guidance 213, Guidance 209 stated that the FDA believed that production uses, for improving nutritional efficiency and growth promotion, of antibiotics that are medically important was injudicious, and remaining therapeutic uses, which were for disease prevention, control and treatment, should be under veterinary oversight,” said Liz Wagstrom, DVM and Chief Veterinarian for the National Pork Producers Council.
Guidance 213 and the VFD work together, in order to explain to sponsors how to change labels and what new research is needed to achieve therapeutic claims. The VFD rule laid out the changes to antibiotic usage in order to make it more feasible to have VFDs across a wide range of products.
“The general purpose of the VFD is to ensure antibiotics are being used properly, but I think the agency expects to see a reduction in use,” Wagstrom said. “However, there could be some in FDA who will say that if more people use treatment with higher doses, we may not actually see a reduction. Their definition of success would be that they could say the antibiotics being used with veterinarian's orders are at the right dose for the right disease for the right duration.”
The FDA is continuing to refine the VFD process. Currently, they are looking at antibiotics that don't have a duration listed on the label and assessing concerns to determine if modifications are needed. Extra label use is another area that is being reviewed. Antibiotic use and resistance will continue to be monitored globally, which could result in additional changes. Changes won’t happen quickly, but you should expect an ongoing review process.
Will the VFD Reduce Antibiotic Use?
Without good data on how and why antibiotics are being used now, Wagstrom says it's hard to know how much they'll change. For example, of medically important antibiotics, tetracycline has the highest sale in animal agriculture. Tetracycline can be used for growth promotion as well as disease prevention, control and treatment in multiple species. All uses of tetracycline will be allowed to continue with the exception of growth promotion.
“Because we don't currently know what percent is being used for growth promotion, it's hard to anticipate how use might decrease. Some veterinarians may not write a VFD for some uses, while some farmers may try to get by without antibiotics because they don't want to pay for a veterinary call,” she said. “There's also a lot of uncertainty around maintaining a veterinary-client relationship and how that might affect use.”
Alternatives to Antibiotic Growth Promoters
Starting in January when the VFD is implemented, the challenge for animal food producers is to find alternatives to antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) to minimize the risks of affecting overall production and animal performance.
“To assist in the transition from AGPs to alternatives, we are providing customers with feed additives to reduce feed costs and lessen susceptibility to enteric diseases all while increasing animal performance with the use of enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, organic acids and minerals,” said Bob Buresh, PhD, Executive Manager, Technical Services – North America at Novus International.
Alternatives to AGPs can assist in poultry production similarly to antibiotics but without the concern of antimicrobial resistance. Novus offers alternatives solutions to the challenges poultry producers face while decreasing overall antimicrobial consumption.
Challenge of gut health: Undigested nutrients enter the small intestine and lead to microbial growth of C. perfringens, which favors this nutrient rich environment.
Solution: When gut and intestinal health are emphasized, there is a reduced risk for clostridium and necrotic enteritis to develop within the bird. CIBENZA® DP100, Novus’s protease enzyme, supports a healthy digestive system as well as reduces phosphorous and nitrogen excretion levels.
Challenge of gut health: Gut C. perfringens is usually what causes necrotic enteritis (NE) with lesions usually confined to the jejunum and ileum.
Solution: The gut environment and its resident microflora can be modified using organic acids like ACTIVATE® either in feed or water.
Challenge of bioavailability: Ineffective sources and levels of trace minerals can limit animal performance.
Solution: MINTREX® chelated trace minerals can improve bioavailability, which increases profitability by decreasing mortality, improving feed efficiency and improving vaccine response when compared to other mineral sources.
Challenge of balancing microflora in the gut: There is a constant struggle to maintain microflora balance which can impact foot health, leg problems, feed conversion and overall bird growth.
Solution: SPORULIN®, a three-strain Bacillus sp., is a direct fed microbial that works to reduce gut pathogens, the animal receives additional benefits from feed conversion efficiency and increased performance.
Broilers and Breeders – Improved Performance, Improved Profitability
® Chelated Trace Minerals
MINTREX® chelated trace minerals are among some of the highest quality trace minerals available on the market. Chelated with HMTBa, MINTREX has a fully defined and verified structure showing a 2:1 ligand to mineral ratio. Due to this strong chelation, the trace mineral is best protected to pass through the upper gastrointestinal tract to the small intestine with the little interference. This superior process allows for more mineral to be absorbed by the animal for critical biological functions. Additionally, the HMTBa ligands are then available for absorption by the animal for conversion to methionine.
Both breeders and broilers need supplemental support to perform at their highest potential. For breeders, the strength of eggs laid is imperative for increased hatchability and progeny performance. There must be sufficient nutrient transfer in order for the egg to be properly formed, strengthened and hatched into a healthy, viable chick. Reducing the number of cracked and broken eggs prior to set can boost the total chick yield, increasing the bottom line. MINTREX can increase egg production and the number of settable eggs, even when supplemented at half commercial trace mineral levels (Figure 1). With a potential 3.5 percent increase in settable eggs, producers can expect to see an up to 5:1 ROI with MINTREX.
Increasing the number of settable eggs without aiding in egg shell strength is almost counterintuitive. As a co-factor in many enzyme functions responsible for the formation of egg shells, trace mineral status in the animal is highly correlated with egg shell quality. The stronger the egg shell, the better protected the chick and the more likely it is to hatch. When trace mineral deficiencies occur, egg mass as well as egg shell quality and thickness can be reduced, compromising the quality of the chick. Trials conducted by Novus around the world have shown MINTREX helps to reduce the number of “under grade” eggs (Figure 2). With the potential to achieve a 5 percent increase in hatchable eggs, producers can expect to see and ROI of up to 3:1.
While nutrition after a chick has hatched is crucial, programming of the chick starts the moment the egg begins to form in the hen. A proper nutrient supply is critical for making sure the newly developing egg and eventual developing embryo are optimized. In order for the proper nutrient supply and transfer to the embryo to occur, the hen must be in proper trace mineral status as egg formation occurs. Research done with MINTREX has shown improvements in yolk trace mineral levels, strengthened bones in newly hatched chicks and reduced seven-day mortality (Figure 3). All of these benefits link back to a proper start due to proper hen nutrition.
A chick benefits from its parental health and will perform better long after it hatches because of proper hen supplementation. As important it is for breeders to be properly supplemented with trace minerals, it is equally important for their progeny - growing broilers - to be supplemented with an excellent source of trace minerals. For broilers, copper, zinc, and manganese are imperative for multiple functions.
Studies conducted throughout the globe have shown improvements in growth when broilers have been supplemented with MINTREX Cu versus other trace minerals (Figure 4).Due to the high bioavailability of MINTREX, lower levels are able to be fed while achieving the same or better performance than sulfates and competitors (Figure 5).
An additional study showed not only better weight adjusted FCR but also higher live weights when utilizing MINTREX Zn at lower supplementation levels (40ppm) compared to the other diets where inorganic trace minerals (100ppm each) were supplemented (Figures 6 and 7).
Proper nutrition for a bird’s lifetime starts with the hen. When a high quality trace mineral source such as MINTREX is utilized, producers experience production benefits incomparable to ITMs. Given the HMTBa value and qualities that allow MINTREX to be supplemented at reduced levels while still achieving the same optimal performance, producer profitability is optimized.
NRA Event Recap
Producing food in a sustainable way
is something we are very passionate about at Novus. This is why we believe
strongly in supporting organizations like the National Renderers Association. We were excited to attend the NRA’s 83rd Annual Conference in October as a Gold Sponsor. Dr. Jessica Meisinger, Director of Education, Science and Communication at the National Renderer’s Association says that, “...to
them, sustainability isn’t just a word, it’s a way of life and the epitome of
recycling. [NRA] members take items that people choose not to eat here in
the US as well as grocery store scraps and used cooking oil from restaurants
and turn those items into nutritious ingredients for pet, livestock and
aquaculture feed. Our members also produce ingredients for biofuels,
natural fertilizers, and other industrial and consumer products. Nearly
all carbon is retained within rendered products and reused rather than becoming
greenhouse gas emissions. National Renderers Association meetings touch
on sustainability in a myriad of ways in almost all committees since it’s such
an important topic. We work closely with companies like Novus and trade
associations, both those who share our vision and those who need to learn
more. There is nothing new about rendering—the joke in rural America for
years has been that for pigs ‘everything’s used but the squeal’—but now it’s
vital to remind everyone that it’s hard to keep animal agriculture sustainable
Getting to Know Jonathan Wilson, PhD
Dr. Johnathan Wilson
What is your official title at Novus?
Application Systems Manager
How long have you been with Novus?
In your role what is the most interesting thing you do?
I supervise and coordinate new ALIMET® system
installations, repairs and upgrades.
What is your favorite Novus product?
What accomplishment or moment in your career are you most proud of?
I obtained a PhD in Grain Science from Kansas State University.
What is the oddest or hardest question a customer has ever asked you?
do you mean we need to stop making feed or grinding corn if we have to
use a cutting torch or angle grinder in the mill? Do you expect us to
stop production every time we need to do that?
The answer is yes.
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing the animal agriculture industry today?
general public is constantly inundated with information about the food
supply chain and production agriculture, but they lack an in-depth
understanding of what production agriculture entails on a day-to-day
operational basis. The gap between farm to fork is now greater than
ever. As members of the food supply chain we have a duty to address
this growing concern by consumers so sound decisions in regards to
regulation and production practices can be made.
What would be your first move if you were tasked with helping the industry overcome that challenge?
years, the agriculture industry has made efforts to educate the public
about where their food comes from or how it is produced. Today, the
highly engaged, influential consumer can’t get enough of it. It’s our
job as members of the agriculture industry to make sure that information
is available and it is presented in a way that the general public can
When you are not promoting Novus products, what do you like to do?
up with my two daughters, trying not to introduce new words into their
vocabulary while I watch K-State sports and explaining to them that 5
and 7 isn’t quite old enough to go hunting with dad, but that day is
If you could go to dinner with any three people, dead or alive, who would you choose?
Carl Sagan, Patton Oswalt and Neil Gaiman
If you had to choose only one book for your library, what would it be?
What is your favorite beef/dairy/pork/poultry product to eat?
Smoked BBQ brisket