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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. But 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 antibiotics.

Starting in 2017, the FDA issued guidance for industry #213 (GFI 213), one of the first big antibiotic restrictions, limiting the use of antibiotics in feed and water for all livestock and companion animals. This restricted the use of antibiotics like chlortetracycline (CTCs) which were typically pulsed into feed during times of stress or outbreaks. Now in 2023, the next regulation will GFI 263 which will limit the use of over the counter (OTC) injectable and bolus antibiotics like penicillin, oxytetracyclines, sulfa based, tylosin and cephapirin.

What is GFI 263?

Previously, buying antibiotics for your herd was simple. You walked into your local feed store and purchased them or bought them online. But as of June 11, 2023, that will change.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the FDA issued GFI 263 in June of 2021 with a two-year implementation strategy. This will require previous OTC antibiotics used in livestock and companion animals to have prescriptions (Rx) from a licensed veterinarian to help preserve antibiotic use in both human and animal health.

A list of all antibiotics considered medically important by the FDA and now under GFI 263 can be found here.

The Reason for GFI 263

The Center 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 to 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 veterinarian to obtain antibiotics directly or receive a 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 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 avoid 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:

  • Weaning stress

  • Heat stress

  • Mineral deficiencies

  • Reproductive stress

  • Calf stress

  • Poor colostrum quality

  • Weak calves

  • Off-feed events

  • Poor nutrition

  • Low body condition

For more information on GFI 263 or Ralco's beef product lineup, call the ruminant health line at 507-337-6916 or email