Medicine use in livestock: Health planning

Find out more about health planning and how it helps achieve responsible medicine use on farm.

Back to: Responsible use of medicines in livestock

What is health planning?

Health planning is working with your vet to make informed decisions on the best use of medicines on the farm.

Using the health plan to manage the timing, product choices and application protocols of animal treatments will simplify and improve the effectiveness of disease control.

The health plan should include monitoring activities, such as worm egg counts or screening for liver fluke. Disease due to parasites is often weather-dependent, so every year is likely to be different, and treatment protocols will vary accordingly.

Herd or flock performance should be reviewed regularly with the vet, alongside medicine records, and at least annually.

Should antibiotics be included in the health plan?

Use of antibiotics must not become habitual, as this can increase the risk of resistance developing. This could limit treatment options in future disease outbreaks and have a negative effect on the health and welfare of your livestock.

Where antibiotics are being used repeatedly or for longer periods of time, usage should be reviewed and refined every quarter. All changes should be documented in the veterinary health plan.

The following can be useful when reviewing with your vet whether to continue or discontinue antibiotic treatments:

  • Careful observation of your animals, including any changes in feeding habits, water consumption, behaviour or other signs of disease. This should be supported by clinical examination and observation by veterinary surgeon
  • Records of productivity, such as mortality rates and growth rates
  • Medicine book and antibiotic usage records
  • Abattoir monitoring results
  • Results of diagnostic investigations
  • Where applicable, laboratory testing for antibiotic susceptibility, as advised by your veterinary surgeon


There are many ways in which diseases can be introduced onto a farm, but buying in animals is one of the biggest risks.

The farm’s health plan should have a protocol for purchased stock so that risks are minimised.

This may involve only buying from herds or flocks of known health status or testing animals before purchase. Once animals arrive on the farm, they should be isolated and quarantine treated as directed by the vet.

Useful links

Using medicines responsibly

Beef diseases directory

Sheep diseases directory

If you would like to order a hard copy of the following resources, please contact or call 0247 799 0069:

  • Using medicines responsibly 
  • Beef diseases directory
  • Sheep diseases directory

Buyers checklist for breeding cattle

Buyers checklist for calves and store cattle

Learn more on biosecurity