Food and feed hygiene for farmers and growers

Veterinary medicine rules and safety for farmers

EU and UK law sets limits for the levels of veterinary medicine residue that can be present in food. Farmers have a duty to ensure safe and responsible use of veterinary medicines.

The Medicines Regulatory Group (MRG) is responsible for medicines control in Northern Ireland, including veterinary medicines. The key law is the Veterinary Medicines Regulations.

Veterinary medicine records 

You are legally required to keep the following records of veterinary medicines on your farm:

  • prescriptions 
  • record of purchase
  • record of disposal 
  • record of administration

You must keep this for at least five years after you have disposed of or administered the medicine. The Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) provide downloadable record-keeping templates. These records will be will be checked by the Veterinary Service on farm visits. If you fail to keep the correct records, they could prosecute or fine you up to £5,000. 

Anti-microbial resistance 

Anti-microbial Resistance (AMR) can cause a disease or infection to resist treatment in both humans and animals. There is a link between the use of antimicrobial drugs in farming and AMR in humans. You have a duty to ensure that use veterinary medicines responsibly. Consider the following key points:

  • Always take advice from your veterinary surgeon. This will ensure you use the most appropriate medicine in the correct manner.
  • Adhere strictly to withdrawal periods. This is one of the most common reasons why illegal levels of residues are found in animals and products
  • Use the correct dose rate for the weight of the animal to be treated. Overdosing could mean illegal residue levels are still present after the withdrawal period has expired.
  • Keep accurate records – this will help you work out whether or not a withdrawal period has expired.