As the clock chimes midnight and 2017 arrives, backyard chicken and poultry owners across the United States will face a new reality in medicating and treating sick birds in our flocks. The Veterinary Feed Directive from the Food & Drug Administration will now govern our use of "medically important" drugs in an effort to decrease their use in food-producing livestock and stem the problem of antibiotic drug resistance in humans.
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.