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GFI 263: What it Means for Your Cattle Herd

GFI 263: What it Means for Your Cattle Herd

Herd health is every farmer and rancher’s top priority. When cattle get sick, you treat them. However, as consumers continue to have more questions about antibiotic use and livestock, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued more guidance and regulations on their use.

Starting in 2017, the FDA issued guidance for industry #213 (GFI 213), the first major move to limit the use of antibiotics in livestock and companion animals. This included antibiotics like chlortetracycline (CTCs) that were commonly used in feed during times of stress or disease outbreaks.

In 2023, the FDA issued guidance for industry #263 (GFI 263), the next regulation that further restricted the use of over-the-counter (OTC) injectable and bolus antibiotics in livestock. This includes antibiotics like penicillin, oxytetracyclines, sulfa-based, tylosin and cephapirin from being used in livestock without a prescription (Rx) from a licensed veterinarian.

What is GFI 263?

Buying antibiotics for your herd used to be a breeze - just walk into a feed store or order them online. But things have changed since June 11, 2023.

To protect human and animal health, the FDA issued GFI 263 in June 2021, which now requires all previously OTC antibiotics used in livestock and companion animals to have an Rx from a veterinarian.

Want to know which antibiotics are affected by GFI 263 regulation? Check out the FDA’s list of medically important antibiotics.

The Reason for GFI 263

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that antibiotic resistance is a major global public health threat. Diseases that were once easily treatable with antibiotics are now becoming resistant to antibiotics used in the past.

According to the CDC, food animals can carry bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter that can make people sick. When animals are given antibiotics, resistant bacteria in their intestines can continue to survive and grow. As animals are processed, those antibiotic-resistant bacteria can pass through to humans, or the bacteria in their feces can contaminate fruits and vegetables and pass through in runoff to water systems.

How Do You Manage Disease in Cattle with GFI 263?

Luckily, antibiotics won’t be going away; farmers and ranchers will just need to work more closely with their veterinarians to obtain antibiotics directly or receive an Rx to get them from a distributor.

To help you manage and prevent disease, establish a biosecurity plan or tighten your current program on your farm. According to Cornell University, the best management practices for biosecurity on a cattle ranch include:

  • Limiting farm traffic

  • Establishing a common entrance and exit

  • Providing disposable plastic boots and on-farm clothing. No footwear or clothing from another farm is allowed ever

  • Making a record of all livestock feed deliveries and supplies

  • Recording cattle source and health history

  • Segregating new cattle from the herd for 30 days

  • Maintaining vaccination programs

  • Protecting against manure entry and avoiding the use of it

How Ralco Can Help with GFI 263

Ralco has been helping farmers and ranchers keep their calves and cows naturally healthy and focused on converting nutrients to growth for the last 50 years. With patented approaches in essential oils, prebiotics and microbial processes, Ralco beef products help keep cattle naturally healthy and don’t require VFDs or GFI 263s.

All products are easy to use and can be implemented in mineral programs, feed additives and health to help your herd during times of:

Request a FREE consultation with a Ralco beef specialist to discuss your operation and our natural solutions. Complete the consultation form or call 507-337-6931 to get started!


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