Medicine records as well as use important in compliance


Medicine records as well as use important in compliance

Over recent years the use of veterinary medicines, particularly antibiotics, has been under scrutiny. But the industry is making impressive progress towards the RUMA targets set in 2017, with antibiotic sales for food-producing animals reducing by 53% since 2014. The highest priority critically-important antibiotic (CIA) sales have also fallen across all sectors. Accurate medicine records are an equally important part of these changes in farm practice, and part of many farm assurance schemes. Zoë Winlow from 4R Reassurance helps you stay compliant by outlining where inadequate medicine recording and use most often cause non-conformances.


Paperwork, including electronic records, infiltrates every part of farming nowadays but for good reason. Medicine records are a vital part of keeping our food supply safe and measuring flock/herd performance. Most farmers record medicine use is some way, but the quality and quantity of those records varies considerably. Separate records of medicines bought, used and disposed all need to be completed. Record forms, such as those provided by Red Tractor, make record-keeping easier and serve as a reminder of the information required.  These forms are useful whether or not you are farm-assured and can help performance reviews and culling decisions.


The most common missing or incomplete records for Red Tractor assured dairy, beef and sheep farms include:

  • When and where the medicine was bought, and the expiry date
  • Product batch number
  • Product withdrawal period (e.g. 32 days) AND the date on which the withdrawal period finishes (e.g. 12.04.2020)
  • Reason for treatment
  • Medicine administration training courses attended – some farm assurances schemes require at least one person responsible for administering medicines to undertake training


While focusing on common areas overlooked in medicine records, it’s worth noting a couple of practical areas where shortcuts are seen:

  • Medicine storage – how many farm kitchens contain veterinary medicines in the fridge door? Veterinary medicines should be kept in a locked store (can be within a domestic fridge) or a dedicated farm fridge if a low storage temperature is required.
  • Disposal of used needles – a yellow shatterproof sharps bin is the best option to ensure safe storage of spent sharps. An old plastic ice cream tub with a hole in the top would suffice if a sharps bin is unavailable. Glass bottles and jars are not suitable as they are not shatterproof. Some vets issue yellow bins, the cost of which includes its removal or emptying when full. Alternatively, specialist companies offer disposal services.


Assessors rightly expect medicine records to be up to date and complete. Good record-keeping and safe practice are important across the farm and none more so than when dealing with the health and welfare of your livestock. If you need help with your medicine records or would like your storage and disposal methods checked before an inspection give us a call. We can assess and advise on what you’re doing at present and help you build an action plan for the future. A fresh and experienced pair of eyes can save you time, keep you compliant and take away the worry.


Zoe Winlow