Your Reading List

There’s a learning curve with new rules on medication

Now is the time to get up to speed on the ins and outs of the regulations on medicated feed and additives

Close up of veterinarian's hand preparing vaccine for cattle on the farm
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Changes to Health Canada’s policy on medically important antimicrobials, which came into effect Dec. 1, include those medications administered in water and in feed.

This change is in response to antimicrobial resistance and the assurance of a safe food supply. It will also, I feel, be a positive step to further assure accuracy in milled feeds.

I think we have all had it happen — picking up the wrong bag of medicated feed or fiddling with water applications. The prescription gives one more document to double-check against and is a great prevention in misuse, overuse, and underuse of medicated feed.

Once again, the important piece here is that there is a relationship between you and your veterinarian as medical additions to feed and water will require a prescription.

Have you done this?

I can imagine in the fall run — or when the first set of chicks come in, the dog whelps, the gilts go lame, or coughing starts in the calf pen — that being without a veterinarian (and consequently a prescription) could get pretty stressful. If you have not talked to your vet recently or don’t have one, even the Easter bunny will be out on a limb. Take the pressure off yourself and do your stock a favour by getting that file in order.

What do you need to know about this change?

  • More with Brenda Schoepp: When it comes to food waste, the system is broken

Veterinarians will have to work more closely with commercial feed mills as the mills cannot stock inventory specifically for you without a valid prescription. The vets are working under several acts here, including the Feeds Act and Regulations and the Food and Drugs Act.

This has been great for the mills as well, as they prepare to step up safety for the food system. Pop by your local feed mill and talk to them about how it’s going to work for them, who is going to handle that paperwork, and who to call when you are not sure of your prescription status.

To help maintain access to what is needed in times of crisis, it is valuable for the vet to know your past history of medical events in your companion or food animals or fowl, and why those events occurred. This helps determine probability for future use.

History can repeat itself in health events. It could be the time of year or the quality of feed, the velocity of the wind, or labour patterns around the farm. There are always contributing factors to health events. Talking about them early with your vet helps alleviate these questions when time is precious.

Your only access to medicated feed or medication for water will be through your veterinarian. It is now illegal for a feed mill or ag supply store to sell medicated feed without a prescription.

So if you are offered a truckload of short-dated medicated feed at rock-bottom prices, do not take it. That risks the relationship with the vet and a few federal acts, as well as making you party to something you really don’t have time or money for. I would however, let the vet know if someone tries to slide it onto your truck deck. Just saying: It’s a no go.

That prescription must include a full description of the animals and the dosage, the type of feed and amount, any cautions when using the MIA, the withdrawal time, name and quantity of drug, date, signature, directions for use, and number of refills.

Check it out as you should be able to get an electronic copy. If it is a pen of heifers that need treating, make sure it says heifers and not steers. Everyone has some responsibility here, and feel free to ask again about withdrawal times for food animals.

Although feed mills may have medicated stock on hand, it cannot be released to you without that signed prescription. Following up to ensure the document is received at the mill might save a lot of hardship.

It might be frustrating to find out the feed is sitting there, but you can’t take it home. The oversight and inspection of the mill has yet another layer of regulation. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is responsible for inspection of the feed mills.

So there are many bodies involved to ensure you have a prescription first. It would be an advisable thing to ensure the prescription is on file before asking for delivery or coming into town. One bag of medicated chicken feed or one ton of supplement — it makes no difference as it will be all by prescription only.

Safe food is everyone’s gig and although this will be a bit of a learning curve, it serves our consumers well as we offer another level of food safety assurance.

About the author

AF Columnist

Brenda Schoepp

Brenda Schoepp works as an international mentor and motivational speaker. She can be contacted through her website at All rights reserved.



Stories from our other publications