Issues and Advocacy

Judicious Use Programs

The animal health community has gone beyond the legal requirements of safe antibiotic use and created guidelines to give producers an additional tool to use to make proper decisions about the use of antibiotics. These programs represent public and private voluntary efforts designed to ensure that antibiotics are used effectively to control and treat animal disease while at the same time safeguarding public health.

Judicious Use Guidance and the Government

  • The Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank (FARAD) is a National Food Safety Project administration through USDA’s Cooperate State, Research, Education, and Extension Service. It is a computer-based decision support system designed to provide producers, extension specialists and veterinarians with practical information on how to avoid environmental contaminant residues and antibiotic residues in food.Barn
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sponsor the Get Smart: Know When Antimicrobials Work on the Farm program aimed at responsible use of animicrobials on the farm. The program is the companion of CDC’s Get Smart program designed to promote responsible use of antibiotics in human medicine. Get Smart on the Farm is aimed at reducing the emergence of resistant food-borne pathogens that could be transferred to people via food or environmental sources.


  • The Food and Drug Administration issued guidance in 2010 on the judicious use of medically important antimicrobials in food-producing animals. To learn more about the guidance, visit the FDA’s site.


Judicious Use Guidance and the Private Sector


  • American Veterinary Medical Association Guidelines: veterinary groups that are specific to different livestock species, producer groups and the Food and Drug Administration have collaborated to produce guidelines for safe and response use of antimicrobials. These guidelines, designed to minimize the need for antibiotic use and maximize their effectiveness when needed, are used as the basis of production education programs.
  • The National Pork Board has instituted the Take Care – Use Antimicrobials Responsibly program in order to guide antimicrobial use in pig production. Take Care has been endorsed and adopted by numerous large and small producers.
  • The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association operates under a Beef Quality Assurance program which stresses the use of FDA-approved products only, the following of the Judicious Use Guidelines, and the veterinary authorization  of any extra label use (according to FDA regulations).
  • The American Association of Avian Pathologists has developed guidelines for judicious therapeutic use of antimicrobials in poultry. These guidelines have been approved by AVMA’s Executive Board and include input from the National Chicken Council and the National Turkey Federation.


Frequently Asked Questions on Judicious Use

  • What is “judicious use?”

The AVMA, working with various species-specific veterinary organizations and government agencies, has developed guidelines for the prudent use of antibiotics in farm animals to ensure that the right drug is used at the right time to treat the right pathogen or disease. These include guidelines for the judicious therapeutic use of antimicrobials for beef cattle, dairy cows, swine and poultry. The guidelines specifically outline the following appropriate uses of antibiotics:

  • Problem prevention — Emphasize appropriate husbandry and hygiene, routine health examinations and vaccinations.
  • Veterinary oversight — Licensed veterinarians should work with producers to make decisions on the selection and use of antibiotics.
  • First-line therapy — Veterinarians discourage the use of antibiotics that are important to treating strategic human or animal infections as first-line therapy.
  • Prioritize treatment — Limit antibiotic use to sick or at-risk animals to treat the fewest number of animals possible.
  • Scientific analysis — Maintain accurate records of treatment and analyze the outcomes to evaluate therapeutic regimens.