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Extension Proactive on Animal Health

The veterinary feed directive (VFD) changes the way livestock producers buy certain antibiotics.

Cow Vaccination
Vaccinating Cattle (NDSU Photo)

Three years before it went into effect on Jan. 1, 2017, NDSU Extension specialists and agents began educating producers, veterinarians and livestock feed distributors about the federal regulation. It requires producers to obtain a written order from their veterinarian before buying antibiotics intended for use in or on animal feed.

Agents and specialists spoke about the VFD at numerous meetings; created YouTube videos, a publication, brochure and handout; and provided information in news releases, columns and media interviews, and through social media.

Nicole Wardner, Extension agent in Sheridan County, discovered just how far ahead NDSU Extension was on VFD training when she attended the 2017 National Cattlemen’s Beef Association meeting in Nashville, Tenn. Beef quality assurance program directors told her that in many states, producers didn’t receive any education until after the directive went into effect.

“It was very evident that NDSU Extension was very proactive on this,” she says.

Vaccine coolers (NDSU photo)As part of the VFD effort, Extension also educates producers and veterinary professionals on the proper use of antibiotics, including why they’re needed, when and how they should be used, what antibiotics to use, the correct dose and how they’re administered.

“We are also communicating with our state public health leaders to help address concerns over the use of antibiotics in both humans and animals,” says Gerald Stokka, NDSU Extension veterinarian and livestock stewardship specialist.

Proper vaccine storage is another focus of Extension’s animal health work. Temperature fluctuations and exposure to sunlight can reduce vaccines’ effectiveness.

After seeing a vaccine storage cooler Extension beef quality assurance specialist Lisa Pederson made, Fort Rice ranchers Aaron and Sheyna Strommen created one of their own by drilling holes in the sides of a small plastic foam cooler. They insert vaccine-filled syringes into the cooler through the holes to keep the vaccine at the proper temperature until it’s needed.

“It’s expensive if you don’t vaccinate; it’s expensive if you do vaccinate,” Sheyna Strommen says. “It makes sense that if you’re going to invest in herd health, then do it right.”

For more information:

Gerald Stokka, 701-231-5088,
Lisa Pederson, 701-328-9718,

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