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Q3 Canada Pork Newsletter

How Will the Veterinary Feed Directive Change Antibiotic Use?

lizDr. 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.


Copper (Cu) is necessary for the activity of numerous enzymes involved in the prevention of cellular oxidative damage, iron transport, metabolism, collagen and elastin formation, bone development, melanin production and central nervous system integrity. Copper effects gut microflora by reducing the bacterial load in the gut and allowing for greater growth and feed efficiency, resulting in greater soft tissue development.

Supplemented Cu has become popular to use specifically in the grow-finish phase of hog production because of the economic benefits that come from greater growth and weight gain. Supplementing with a lower level of more bioavailable Cu in the form of MINTREX® chelated trace minerals has been shown to improve overall grow-finish performance while improving return on investment.

A recent trial was conducted in two side-by-side commercial grow-finish facilities in the United States Midwest. The trial evaluated the performance of MINTREX Cu on growth, efficiency, health and economic efficiency versus inorganic trace minerals (ITMs). The trial utilized 5,400 growing pigs starting at 37 pounds and finishing through market closeout. The two treatment diets were typical US growing-finishing diets formulated with corn, SBM and DDGs to meet or exceed NRC (2012) requirements. Paylean was included in the final diets after the first cut. In treatment one, pigs were supplemented with 125 ppm Cu as CuSO4 even at different supplemental levels. This combined with an improvement in time to market for MINTREX pigs, a net feed cost savings of $2.35 per pig was realized resulting in a 7:1 return on investment.


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?
Nine months

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?
What 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?
The 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?
For 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 understand it.

When you are not promoting Novus products, what do you like to do?
Keeping 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 coming.

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

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