RUMA Launches New Cattle Guidelines on the Responsible Use of Antimicrobials

The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) is delighted to launch its revised guidelines for farmers and vets on the Responsible Use of Antimicrobials in Cattle Production. They are available on RUMA’s new-look website at

RUMA Secretary General, John FitzGerald, said the revised guidelines were prepared as part of RUMA’s programme of regularly updating its guidelines. He said that the new revision had been updated with extensive help from the British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA) for which RUMA was very grateful.

Mr FitzGerald said that the new version of the Cattle Antimicrobial Guidelines for farmers stressed the need to manage farms to reduce disease challenge and minimise antimicrobial use. More detailed advice was included in the vets’ Guideline to help them work with their farmer clients to achieve this. Both Guidelines include practical advice and highlight the Four Golden Rules on Disease Control i.e.

  • biosecurity to limit disease spread
  • avoid stress
  • good hygiene
  • good nutrition.

RUMA Guidelines were first introduced in 2000 and are intended as working documents. They are updated periodically to continually provide best advice.

Now in their 3rd editions, the short version provides quick and easy guiding principles that can be used as a working document by farmers, while the longer version is aimed primarily at veterinary surgeons and other advisers, to provide more detail.

The holistic approach to minimising disease set out by the Four Golden Rules helps reduce the need to use antimicrobials, including antibiotics, without adversely affecting animal welfare. It is important to reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance without reducing the availability of necessary antibiotics.

Like all RUMA Guidelines, the new Cattle Guidelines are available free of charge on the RUMA website



  1. RUMA is an alliance of 24 organisations representing every stage of the “farm to fork” process which aims to promote a co-ordinated and integrated approach to best practice in the use of medicines on farm. For further information contact RUMA Secretary General John FitzGerald ( or see the RUMA website
  2. RUMA Guidelines are regularly reviewed in consultation with RUMA members and specialist groups working in the relevant sector.
  3. The Four Golden Rules on Disease Control are explained in the attached table which is included in the Guidelines
Disease Control: Four Guiding Principles
Rule 1 Review biosecurity of new cattle introduced into a herd Disease spreads around and between farms by contact with other cattle. Screening and monitoring will help to limit the spread of disease. REMEMBER contact can also be INDIRECT by a needle, surgical instrument, manure or people.
Rule 2 “Stress” is a killer. Stressed animals are far more likely to become diseased. This includes not only obvious physical stress factors such as overcrowding or management procedures; but also exposure to micro-organisms which cause major stress to the immune system e.g. BVD. THINK – If a procedure causes the cattle to become stressed, ask “can this be done in a less stressful manner?” e.g. castration, introduction of heifers to the dairy herd.
Rule 3 Good Management and Hygiene There is no substitute for good management, hygiene and biosecurity measures. Cleaning buildings and equipment coupled with good hygiene will all make a difference. Don’t spread disease by poor management and hygiene.
Rule 4 Good Nutrition Good intakes of colostrum provide essential antibodies to protect calves as their immune system is developing. Balanced diets with adequate levels of trace elements, vitamins and anti-oxidants are essential if the immune system of cattle is to work properly in tackling diseases.