Elizabeth Cronin… North Dakota State University

The new U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidance allows only one implant during the backgrounding and finishing phase of production unless the implant has a claim for reimplantation on the label.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently changed guidance for using implants in beef cattle after June 2023. Implants for beef cattle are placed under the skin of the ear and promote growth and improve feed efficiency.

“The new guidance from the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine redefines beef cattle's production phases, which will affect the label claims of existing and new drugs,” said Zac Carlson, North Dakota State University-Extension beef cattle specialist. “This affects implants for beef cattle production because they are considered a drug.”

There are new production phases:

  • Calves nursing their dams younger than two months of age.
  • Calves nursing their dams two months of age or older.
  • Growing beef steers or heifers on pasture -- stockers.
  • Growing beef steers or heifers in a dry lot -- backgrounders.
  • Growing beef steers or heifers fed in confinement for harvest -- feedlot cattle.
  • Growing beef steers or heifers in a grow yard.

Gerald Stokka, North Dakota State University-Extension veterinarian and livestock stewardship specialist, said, “These production phases are important because the new guidance will allow beef cattle to receive one implant for each production phase. Additionally beef cattle will be allowed to receive more than one implant within a production phase, but only if that implant has a claim for reimplantation on the label.”

Currently there are implants approved for reimplant use within a production phase. However most implants do not have any language on their label addressing reimplantation.

Karl Hoppe, North Dakota State University-Extension livestock systems specialist, said production phase 4 -- growing beef steers or heifers in a dry lot -- is a new production phase. It consists of weaned growing beef steers, and beef and dairy heifers that are maintained in a dry lot and receive the majority of their diet from harvested forage, possibly with a supplement. Because that will be a new production phase, no current implants are approved.

Production phase 5b consists of weaned growing beef steers and heifers confined in group pens and fed a moderate- to high-roughage diet available at all times as their sole ration prior to the finishing phase. That would describe most pre-conditioning and backgrounding operations in North Dakota. However production phases 5a -- finishing beef cattle phase -- and 5b are considered the same production phase. Therefore, beef steers and heifers implanted during production phase 5b -- backgrounding phase -- would only be allowed during the finishing feeding period, or production phase 5a, if the implant they were given during the backgrounding phase 5b was approved for reimplantation.

Stokka said, “Be sure to check the label of the steroidal implants you intend to use to see if it is allowed within the production phase of the cattle you intend to implant. Contact your county Extension agent, Extension beef and livestock specialist, veterinarian or implant manufacturer representative for further assistance.”