Storage and Handling of Livestock Medicines on the Dairy Farm
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Title: Storage and Handling of Livestock Medicines on the Dairy Farm
Agriculture and Rural
Written by: Ann Godkin and Jack Rodenburg
Table of Contents
2.. Management for Disease Prevention
3.. Storage Facilities for Livestock Medicines
4.. Managing Livestock Medicine Inventory
5.. Disposal of Livestock Medicines
7.. Drug Handling Check List
The Ontario dairy industry has an excellent record in the production
of quality milk. Correct storage and handling of livestock medicines on the
dairy farm is important in preventing contamination of milk with drug
residues. This is an important responsibility of the milk producer, farm
employees and the herd veterinarian. Correct use of veterinary drugs insures
the effectiveness of treatment of sick animals and assures consumers of a
wholesome food supply.
This factsheet addresses storage and handling of livestock medicines.
The Factsheet "Use of Livestock Medicines on the Dairy Farm" Agdex 410/662
explains drug labelling, treatment practices, and on-farm antibiotic
Neat, organized drug storage facilities, the use of good treatment
records, and good on-going communication among those involved in the care of
the herd are important elements in the "residue avoidance" program on the
Management for Disease Prevention
Management practices which prevent disease will reduce the need for
drug treatment. A planned animal health and production program, commonly
called herd health, combines regularly scheduled veterinary visits with good
Health programs commit both the milk producer and the veterinarian to
scheduled health care and consultation. Critical factors in preventing
disease are the provision of adequate space, dry bedding, good ventilation,
the use of properly functioning milking equipment and the maintenance of a
high standard of hygiene and sanitation. The use of milking procedures known
to reduce mastitis, such as post-milking teat dipping and dry cow treatment,
is effective in disease prevention. The feeding of a balanced ration also
Preventing sickness in livestock leads to less antibiotic use. Consult
your herd veterinarian, nutrition and management advisors about a
comprehensive health management program.
Storage Facilities for Livestock Medicines
Provision of a facility specifically set for storage of livestock
medicines will improve medication effectiveness and reduce treatment errors.
The ideal location for a storage unit is a clean, dry, frost-free area such
as a farm office or utility room. The storage unit should protect products
from changes in temperature, sunlight, dust, moisture, animals and insects.
Products should be protected from temperature extremes and
fluctuations as these may alter the products' chemical structure and reduce
potency, shelf life and safety. An example of products affected by incorrect
storage temperature are teat dips containing the disinfectant chlorhexidine.
These products may irritate teat skin if used after freezing and thawing has
occurred. Vaccines containing modified live organisms will have markedly
reduced effectiveness if stored at room temperature.
Most antibiotic preparations are heat sensitive. Store these products
in a refrigerator at a temperature between 2° and 8° C to maintain potency.
Many other products require storage in a cool (below 15° C) but
non-refrigerated location. Product labels will indicate an acceptable
Product decomposition may result from exposure to light. Manufacturers
package light sensitive products like the injectable tetracyclines in light
resistant containers such as coloured glass bottles. This reduces the loss
of potency due to light. Store these and other products in a light proof
To prevent treatment errors, store products approved for use in
lactating (milking) cows on a separate shelf in the storage unit from those
for dry cows. Label the shelves to help maintain an organized storage unit.
Store products other than antibiotics, such as wound dressings and
injectable vitamins, on a third shelf along with needles and other
instruments used in the treatment of animals.
Separate storage cabinets for each group of products will further
reduce the chance of errors in product selection. Lock storage units to
prevent access by children or unauthorized persons.
Managing Livestock Medicine Inventory
Careful management of the drug inventory on the farm insures that
drugs are purchased as needed. Fresh supplies will be readily available when
needed. This will reduce costs resulting from drug wastage. Anticipation of
a time of increased drug use may allow the producer to take advantage of
sales while insuring supplies are on hand. For example, the number of cows
requiring treatment at dry off during a given time period can be estimated
in advance. Purchase of dry cow treatment products in the volume required at
one time may be convenient and result in price reductions for bulk
The drug inventory on the farm can be managed using the following
a.. purchase drugs in quantities which will be used in a reasonable
amount of time;
b.. check product expiry dates before purchase;
c.. clean and reorganize the drug cabinet regularly;
d.. use products with older dates first; and
e.. discard all expired products.
Disposal of Livestock Medicines
Safe disposal of livestock medicines is essential to protect farm
employees, family members, untreated livestock and the environment from
accidental exposure to potentially hazardous chemicals.
Expired livestock medicines can be disposed of by returning them to
the supplier. Increasingly, many veterinarians and manufacturers are willing
to accept returns of products at the location of purchase. In some
municipalities medicines can be disposed of on "Household Hazardous Waste
Days". Contact your local county or municipal works department to determine
when these are held in your region.
Cattle anti-parasiticide products, such as injectable and topical
wormers, are pesticides. Dispose of these products like pesticides applied
to crops. A good rule for disposal of all livestock medicines is to rinse
all empty containers and used equipment thoroughly. The three rinse system
recommended for pesticide containers is suitable.
Do not reuse livestock medicine containers. Puncture all non-aerosol
containers to prevent their reuse. Store containers for discarding in a way
which prevents access to children, other livestock and pets. Dispose of them
promptly. Dispose of washed containers in municipal landfill.
The ultimate responsibility for insuring a milk supply free of drug
residues lies with the milk producer. Use of livestock medicines is a
privilege which livestock owners cannot afford to abuse.
Provision of the proper storage conditions and location for
medications will prevent reduced drug effectiveness and treatment errors.
Maintaining a suitable drug inventory on the dairy farm will provide drugs
when needed yet prevent increased costs due to the discard of expired drugs.
Dispose of used containers and unused products safely. This will prevent
accidental exposure of people and animals to medicines.
Review the handling and storage of livestock medicines on your farm.
Use the recommendations of this factsheet. Revise procedures to insure the
safety and well-being of livestock, the dairy industry and of the consumers
of dairy products.
Additional sources of information include:
1.. Use of Livestock Medicines on the Dairy Farm, Agdex No. 410/662
2.. Canadian Compendium of Veterinary Pharmaceuticals, Biologicals
and Specialities, 2nd Edition 1991. CCVPBS, 148 King St., P.O. Box 39,
Hensall, Ontario NOM lXO.
3.. Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy
Cattle, 1990. Agriculture Canada Publication 1853/E.
4.. Grower Pesticide Safety Course Manual, 1990. Ontario Pesticide
Education Program, Ridgetown College of Agricultural Technology, Ridgetown,
Ontario NOP 2CO.
Drug Handling Check List Drug Storage Unit
a.. Located in farm office or utility room
b.. Protected from temperature fluctuations
c.. Sealed against dust, insects and light
d.. Separate, labelled shelves for lactating and dry cow
e.. Kept locked
f.. Clean and organized
a.. Products purchased as needed
b.. Expired, unopened products returned
c.. Expired, partially used products discarded
Preventive Health Management Practises
a.. Enrolled in a veterinarian supervised health management
b.. Environmental management includes provision of:
a.. Adequate space per animal
b.. Clean, dry bedding
c.. Good ventilation
d.. Clean, readily available water
e.. A ration formulated to meet animal requirements
a.. Proper milking practises are used to prevent mastitis:
a.. Post-milking teat dipping
b.. Treatment of all cows at the time of dry-off
c.. Treatment of lactating cows as recommended by a
This Factsheet was authored by: Ann Godkin, Health Management
Veterinarian and Jack Rodenburg, Dairy Cattle Specialist
This information is provided as a public service, but we cannot
guarantee that the information is current or accurate.
Readers should verify the information before acting on it.
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