In-Feed Antimicrobials and Working with Commercial Feed Mills

Animal Owner
FAASTsheet 07 /

What is Changing and When?


  1. You will need a prescription to purchase any product, including medicated feed, containing a medically important antimicrobial (MIA).
    1. MIAs are specific drugs (such as Penicillin) that are preferred options for use in human medicine, with few alternatives. See Animal Owner FAASTsheet #3 for more on MIAs.
    2. How do you get prescriptions? See Animal Owner FAASTsheet #7
  2. Growth promotion claims on drug products containing MIAs for use in food animals are being removed. Use of these products for growth promotion or feed efficiency will no longer be allowed, but most products can still be prescribed by your veterinarian for prevention or treatment of disease, if needed.

When? December 1st, 2018

Why Did This Change?

To reduce the development of antimicrobial resistance, it is important to avoid misuse or unnecessary use of MIAs. Therefore:

  • Health Canada is moving all MIAs to the prescription drug list so that veterinarians can better oversee their use. See Animal Owner FAASTsheet #6
  • Drug manufacturers agreed to remove growth promotion claims from their products, as use for growth promotion is not necessary to keep animals healthy and productive.

How Does This Affect Availability of Medicated Feeds from Feed Mills?

As of December 1st, 2018 commercial feed mills are:

  • No longer be able to sell any mixed feeds (complete feeds, supplements, macro premixes, micro premixes) containing MIAs to producers without a prescription.
  • Able to floor-stock medicated mixed feeds that are prepared according to the Compendium of Medicating Ingredient Brochures (CMIB). This will help feed mills to quickly provide standard medicated feeds when a prescription is provided.
    • Medicated feed not listed in the CMIB (i.e. off-label) will be made-to-order by the mill once you provide a prescription from your veterinarian, which may have an effect on how quickly animal owners can obtain medicated feed.

What Do These Changes Mean for Animal Owners?

You must have a prescription from your veterinarian to purchase medicated feeds containing MIAs

  • Commercial feed mills can only sell MIAs if the drug is first mixed in feed AND you present a prescription for the feed written by your veterinarian

DIN drug premixes (i.e. unmixed in-feed medications for mixing on-farm) will ONLY be available through a veterinarian or a pharmacist, with a prescription.

What Else Do You Need to Know?

If you do not routinely work with a veterinarian, you will need to establish a Veterinarian-Client-Patient-Relationship (VCPR) so your veterinarian can prescribe drugs for your animals when needed. Check Animal Owner FAASTsheet #5 to learn more about a VCPR.

You can no longer use MIAs to promote growth or feed efficiency. MIAs may only be used for treatment, prevention and control of illness. See Animal Owner FAASTsheet #8 for more.

How do you access MIAs and prescription medicated feed? See Figure 1 below for a flow chart by the Animal Nutrition Association of Canada:

Figure 1: Flow chart illustrating the potential movement, as per federal and provincial regulations, of prescription DIN drug premises and prescription medicated feed in Canada. Source: ANAC, 2018

What Should You Do Right Now?

If you did not establish a VCPR with a veterinarian in your area before December 1, 2018, do so immediately.

Talk to your veterinarian about the in-feed and in-water antimicrobials you use for your animals on a regular basis, when and how often they are used, and ways your veterinarian can help make sure you can access these products in a timely way when they’re needed.

Having your veterinarian work closely with your local feed mill and animal nutritionist to help make the process of prescribing and dispensing in-feed antimicrobials as smooth as possible.