Once the Veterinary Feed Directive takes effect, water soluble and feed based antibiotics will no longer be found on feed store shelves. All livestock owners will be required to have a prescription for water soluble drugs from a licensed veterinarian. For feed based antibiotics, a written Veterinary Feed Directive from a licenced veterinarian will be required to purchase the drug and will govern how it is used.
The hardest part of the Veterinary Feed Directive for backyard poultry owners is to find a qualified veterinarian. A good place to start is to contact local extension agencies because they deal with issues like this every day. They may be able to recommend a local veterinarian. A place where I've had luck is to look at local veterinarians that treat pet birds. Interestingly, pet birds can have many of the same issues as chickens and poultry, such as bumblefoot and crop impaction. A veterinarian that takes care of pet birds may have no problem taking on a chicken-based client.
The good news is that Coccidiostats such as Amprolium, which is used in medicated chick starter feed, is not an antibiotic and is not affected by the Veterinary Feed Directive rules.
To find out more about what drugs are affected, check out my post for Backyard Poultry magazine.
To keep your birds healthy and happy, follow the steps below.
|Good Animal Husbandry Practices||Good Feed Practices for Backyard Flocks|
|Keep litter clean and dry.||Provide fresh, clean water daily.|
|Provide fresh bedding in nest boxes.||Provide a balanced commerical feed, free choice each day.|
|Provide adequate ventilation to prevent build up of ammonia.||Limit treats to 10% of overall diet. Make sure treats are healthy.|
|Give your birds a daily health check to know what's normal and what's not.||Provide free range time to alleviate boredom and allow for exercise.|
|Keep a well-stocked chicken emergency kit. When you need it, you'll be glad it's there!|