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.
Multiple stress factors can impact gut health. Loss of mothering and lactational immunity, comingling, environmental changes and lack of appropriate hygienic housing with adequate temperature and humidity, piglets to be prone to diarrhea and other health issues. Novus is focused on solutions to these challenges.
Challenge of gut microflora: Excess of undigested protein in the hindgut increases pathogenic microorganisms which cause diarrhea.
Solution: CIBENZA® DP100 can increase protein digestibility and decrease the amount of undigested protein in the hindgut, which decreases growth of pathogenic microorganisms and diarrhea incidence.
Challenge of poor gut health: Indigestibility of feed and low body weight promote a higher incidence of diarrhea.
Solution: Feeding MINTREX Cu to piglets improves feed conversion ratio and growth rate all through the reduction of diarrhea.
Challenge of stress: Meeting a piglets’ essential nutritional needs during the weaning transition.
Solution: Supplementing nursery pigs with MINTREX Cu improves feed conversion, reduces diarrhea and improves immune response.
Most animals, especially young animals, lack the innate enzyme capability to degrade complex substrates in feed and are unable to fully utilize available nutrients. Enzyme supplementation results in improved dietary response through a more complete digestion of specific substrates. Each enzyme works on a specific substrate, resulting in the need for different types of enzymes to fully realize the potential value of feed.
Mannanase enzymes are fermentation products of Bacillus spp. that degrade ß-mannans, a key source of indigestible fiber, in animal feeds. The major source of mannans in soy is the hull, making the effect of ß-mannanase more pronounced when supplemented in diets containing SBM-44 that are higher in indigestible fiber.
Xylanase enzymes are a class of enzymes derived from fungi that work to break down xylans, a type of pentosan found most commonly in wheat. Xylans increase gut viscosity in the animal, which limits nutrient absorption. Xylanase enzymes break down those xylans that allow for a higher digestibility and absorption of nutrients in the small intestine.
Protease enzymes hydrolyze indigestible protein in feeds. Proteases work to break down protein from feed ingredients, resulting in greater amino acid and energy release. Even a standard corn-SBM diet is about 85 percent digestible, so there is 15 percent that the animal will not utilize. A protease reduces the undigested protein portion, leading to lower feed costs and better gut health.
Phytase enzymes act specifically on the substrate phytate, breaking phytate down and releasing phosphorous for use by the animal. Through this breakdown and release, there is less of a need for supplementation of dietary phosphorus.
Let's Go a Little Deeper
Phytate is an indigestible form of phosphorus found in plant based ingredients and is an antinutrient that disrupts gut function. It binds minerals from the diet. Phytases break down phytate to release P and Ca boosting digestibility. Superdosing phytase is the latest trend in phytase supplementation. The goal with superdosing is to target and destroy most of the phytate present in the diet. Even with phytase superdosing, some ingredients still remain unavailable to the animal. For example, corn-SBM diets fed today contain approximately 15 percent undigested protein. This protein can cause deleterious effects on gut health and absorption of nutrients as it flows through the hind gut. Adding a protease makes this undigested protein more available to the animal.
Proteases are very specific enzymes that work on protein substrates.
Proteases “attack” strings of amino acids and break the large proteins down into smaller peptide units, or individual amino acids. Proteases improve the digestion of proteins and increase amino acid availability, which makes valuable nutrients such as amino acids and energy more available to the animal for growth and performance. Combining a protease with other enzymes, even superdoesed phytase, does not take away from the performance of a protease because of its work on a different substrate. Enzymes complement each other by achieving the same goal through the breakdown of different substrates – increasing digestion of raw materials.
Cibenza DP100 feed additive is an intrinsically heat stable, potent protease enzyme feed additive that optimizes the digestibility of proteins in swine feed ingredients. Read more on the science behind Cibenza DP100.
Minnesota Nutrition Conference
Novus International was represented at the 77th
Minnesota Annual Nutrition Conference in September by several of our North
America technical service managers and was honored to be a Gold Sponsor and to
supply each attendee with a flash drive. Many topics were presented including amino
acid nutrition, enzymatic use for better gut health, antioxidant use for
fighting lipid oxidation and continual research in antibiotic free (ABF)
production practices for swine producers. All three of these topics are issues Novus is passionate about solving, which is why we have research-backed
products such as ALIMET
®/MHA®, CIBENZA DP100, SANTOQUIN® and our newly
announced ABF initiative, Project Horizon, to aid producers in creating the best
nutrition for the best return on investment and animal profitability possible. Our
team is talking to customers who are transitioning to ABF production, and they
are looking forward to working with more producers throughout the industry. The
conference was very well attended and Novus was excited to be a part of this
great meeting once again. We hope to see you there next year!
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