What’s changing with cattle implants in 2023?

By Dr. John Hutcheson

Implants are proven to increase animals’ growth rate and the efficiency by which they convert feed into meat. In a recent episode of DocTalk, host Dan Thomson, D.V.M., Ph.D., talks about upcoming FDA changes and what they mean for the beef industry.

It is important to remember the FDA defines three categories of implants: 1) Those with specific reimplant labels within a production phase, 2) Implants with labels that clearly state reimplanting within a product phase is not permitted, 3) Implants that do not clearly state that reimplantation is permitted. For those in the third category, the FDA expects cattle producers to only reimplant products that explicitly state on product labeling that reimplantation is permitted.

The FDA states that after June 2023, only implants that are expressly labeled for reimplantation will be able to be placed in cattle more than once per production phase.

Cattle will be allowed to be implanted across different production phases. Cattle are also allowed to receive more than one implant within that production phase, as long as the implant is labeled for reimplantation within that production phase.

FDA GFI 191 defines production settings as:

  1. Beef calves –
    • Pre-ruminating and nursing their dams from birth until 2 months of age
    • Ruminating and nursing their dams from 2 months of age to weaning
  2. Growing beef steers and heifers on pasture (stocker, feeder and slaughter)
  3. NEW PHASE – Growing beef steers and heifers in a dry lot (Note: No implants are currently approved for this phase.)
  4. Growing beef steers and heifers fed in confinement for slaughter including cattle in a feedlot and those in a grow yard (backgrounding/starter yard included)

Implanting is an important practice

Implanting is both an economic and environmentally sustainable practice that is very important to the cattle industry. Your veterinarian, nutritionist, extension specialist and/or animal health representative can help you understand the changes and how they impact your operation.

Implants are about “doing more with less.” Using less resources but enabling a calf to gain anywhere from 115 to 195 pounds of additional weight (over non-implanted calves) over its lifetime.1 This means economic value by improving margin due to increased gain and decreased cost of gain. Learn more here.


  1. Capper J.L. The environmental and economic impact of steroid implant and beta-adrenergic agonist use within U.S. beef production. In: Proceedings of the ADSA-ASAS Joint Annual Meeting, Indianapolis, IN, USA. 2013

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About the author

Ask the Nutritionist team

John Hutcheson

Director, Cattle Technical Services,
Merck Animal Health