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Safe Storage of Veterinary Medicines

16 October 2012, at 12:00a.m.

Check list for appropriate storage of medicines to maintain their effectiveness, reduce treatment errors and protect the health of staff and animals on the unit from BPEX in Work Instruction series (No. 4).

Check List for Appropriate Storage

  • The storage unit must be able to contain spillages, be lockable and kept secure at all times
  • Spillages should be removed immediately from the store and disposed of in accordance with manufacturer recommendations
  • The storage unit should be hygienic and regularly cleaned
  • The storage unit must not contain food or drink or be sited close to any animal feed storage
  • Medicine/vaccine stores should be of a sufficient size to hold all the treatments required on the unit for one month
  • All medicines, vaccines etc should be labelled, and carry required warning signs
  • All medicines, vaccines etc should be stored in accordance with the manufacturers instructions at all times
  • Product information sheets should be kept in or nearby the storage unit and where appropriate copies also need to be kept for COSHH purposes.
  • Different classes of products (e.g. antibiotics, vaccines) should be stored on separate, clearly labelled shelves
  • When using a refrigerator, record the storage temperature weekly using a minimum/maximum thermometer
  • If the temperature has dropped, and products have become frozen, they should be suitably disposed of immediately
  • Ensure that stock with the shortest expiry date is used first
  • Check the expiry dates on all stock on a regular basis
  • The herd vet should routinely check the storage and records as part of farm health planning

Outline of the Work

Check storage requirements of medicine before placing in cabinet

Place bottle on the appropriate shelf
  • Check that the medicine is still in-date
  • If replacing a half-used bottle, ensure top is clean and remove all needles

Note: Some medicines need to be disposed of immediately after use – check the requirements before replacing

  • Place bottle on the appropriate shelf
  • Complete all relevant records for medicine use within 72 hours
Do not leave medicines lying around the unit, e.g. farrowing or other houses

Additional Information

  • Vaccines, antibiotics, hormones and iron are all heat-sensitive. These types of medicines should be kept refrigerated at a temperature between 2–8°C
  • Sedatives, stimulants, vitamins and minerals and disinfectants are light-sensitive and may become ineffective if not stored in the dark
  • Disposal of medicines: all expired products and those no longer of use should be disposed of in a safe and legal manner
  • Always observe all withdrawal times of all medicines before sending animal for slaughter
  • Do not leave medicines lying around the unit, e.g. in your farrowing or other houses
  • Keep a folder of all the data sheets. This can easily be taken to the hospital in any self-injection situations
  • Consult your veterinarian about preventive animal health management and proper use of livestock medicines
  • The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007 states that records must be kept of any medicinal treatment given to animals and that these records are kept for at least three years from the date of treatment

Reference Documents

  • The Animals and Animal Products (Examination for Residues and Maximum Residue Limits) (Amendment) Regulations 2004. Defra.
  • Code of Use of Animal Medicines on the Farm. Veterinary Medicines Directorate.
  • The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007. Defra.


October 2012