Using medicines responsibly in livestock

Read our advice to help you learn about using medicines responsibly. You will find information and resources on medicine administration, health planning and antibiotic resistance.

Why is responsible medicine use important?

Medicines are used to treat disease in people and in animals. It is important to use medicines appropriately when animals are sick, to protect their welfare and restore them to health.

The aim is to use as little as possible, but as much as is necessary, to prevent unnecessary suffering and maintain animal welfare.

Antimicrobial resistance is a huge threat to human and animal health. We all have a part to play in ensuring all animal medicines are used responsibly.

Antimicrobial and anthelmintic (wormer) resistance are both causes for concern in agricultural industries globally. Everyone using antimicrobials has a role in protecting the effectiveness of antimicrobials for future generations. This involves working alongside the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) and other organisations, to reduce the risk of resistance developing. This can be done by reducing the amount of antibiotics prescribed for people and animals, and ensuring when antibiotics are prescribed, they are used correctly.

Find out more about antibiotic resistance here

How can I use medicines responsibly on farm?

Farmers should ensure fundamentals such as ventilation, nutrition, water supply, housing, hygiene and biosecurity are well managed as these are crucial in controlling disease and reducing the need for medicines.

Where medicines are necessary, using them responsibly will preserve the effectiveness of medicines for future use in people and in animals.

Antibiotics and anthelmintics should only be used for disease control to safeguard animal health and welfare. For example, until alternative methods are implemented, or where there are no effective alternative ways to control disease. This may include changing the vaccination schedule, or making management changes to allow disease to be controlled without the need for antibiotics.

In specific farm situations, the prescribing veterinary surgeon may advise alternative good-practice solutions based on their knowledge of the disease profile, the animals and the infrastructure of the farm.

You should always follow specific advice from your veterinary surgeon.

Responsible use of medicines

Farmers and stock keepers play a major role in ensuring that medicines are used responsibly. Read our advice and information to help you use medicines responsibly.

Find out more about the responsible use of medicines

Responsible use of antibiotics

Read our advice on how to use antibiotics responsibly on farm. You’ll find information on understanding resistance, and strategies to prevent health issues.

Learn more about using antibiotics responsibly

Responsible use of anthelmintics

From FEC to monitoring anthelmintic effectiveness, our advice will help you to use anthelmintics responsibly on farm.

Read more about responsible use of anthelmintics

Useful links

Using medicines responsibly

Beef diseases directory

Sheep diseases directory

Calf management guide

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
  • Calf management guide

Buyers checklist for breeding cattle

Buyers checklist for calves and store cattle

Learn more on biosecurity