New Farm Animal Antibiotic Guidelines Launched

In order to meet the ongoing challenges besetting farmers, especially changes to the regulations governing the use of medicines in food producing animals, RUMA (the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance) has today (Wednesday) released revised comprehensive guidelines for the ‘Responsible Use of Antimicrobials’ in the main farm animal species – dairy and beef cattle (launched last week at the Dairy Event), sheep, pigs and poultry. The four sets of ‘long’ guidelines follow in the footsteps of the update of the original short ones launched last year, but while they were aimed at farmers, the latest versions are specifically aimed at those advising farmers, particularly veterinary surgeons. The guidelines are available on the RUMA website at and can be downloaded free of charge. (Follow the links above.)

Introducing the new guidelines, RUMA’s Chairman Peter Allen, MBE acknowledged the major contributions made by RUMA members such as the BVA, who hosted the launch, noting “In a world of rapid changes both farming and the use of antimicrobials are undergoing major reforms. While the use of antimicrobial growth promoters in farm animals is being phased out from 1 January 2006 the overall trend has been for them to be declining in usage over the past few years and RUMA considered the time was right to produce updated versions on how to make the most effective use of antimicrobials in terms of animal health and welfare as well as ensuring the safety of consumers.”

Mr Allen, in introducing the President of the BVA, Dr Bob McCracken CBE, spoke of the importance of a strong veterinary presence on farm at a time when labour and prices received for food produced were declining. In response Dr McCracken expressed his and the BVA’s delight in being “involved in the inauguration of these guidelines. A number of BVA divisions, specifically the British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA), Sheep Veterinary Society (SVS), Pig Veterinary Society (PVS) and the British Poultry Veterinary Association (BPVA) have worked closely with the various farm livestock associations to produce these excellent booklets. I also welcome their electronic format as this will allow far easier updating as new developments occur.”

John Sumner, an independent Dairy Consultant, and main author of the dairy guidelines said “Just a year ago, we launched short practical versions of these guidelines which were primarily intended for farmers. The guidelines launched today are a comprehensive guide to the effective and safe use of antimicrobials in cattle. They are directed at the whole of the industry, with the main aim of communicating practical strategies by which the need for use of antimicrobials might be reduced, but without adversely affecting animal welfare or the viability of a farmer’s business. The cattle industry recognises that human health must be an overriding consideration when using antimicrobials and the launch of these guidelines today is an example of the industry taking responsibility for its own actions.”

Representing the veterinary input into the guidelines, Roger Harvey of the Pig Veterinary Society said: “The PVS welcomes the launch of the updated RUMA guidelines for the responsible use of antimicrobials in pig production. The PVS has had responsible use guidelines for over 10 years now and has every confidence that its members use medicines responsibly to safeguard the health and welfare of pigs in their care. The PVS is working closely with industry and Government through the British Pigs Health and Welfare Council to deliver real improvements in the health and welfare of pigs in Great Britain over the next 10 years and we have no doubt that the revised RUMA guidelines will make a real contribution to that objective.”


  1. For further information please contact Dr Tony Andrews at RUMA on 01438 717900.
  2. RUMA (The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance) was set up in November 1997 to promote the highest standards of food safety, animal health and animal welfare in British livestock farming. It launched the original guidelines in 199/2000 and since that time the guidelines have been used as part of farm assurance schemes. All the guidelines are working documents and so will be revised as required. For further information please visit
  3. RUMA is a non-governmental non-profit making organisation comprising members at all stages of food production. Amongst its aims is “to establish and communicate guidelines which describe “best practice” in the use of medicines.” RUMA aims at producing a co-ordinated approach to best practice. RUMA’s aims and objectives have been discussed with the European Union and also Member States’ organisations.