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Factors affecting dairy farmers' attitudes towards antimicrobial medicine usage in cattle in England and Wales

Jones, P. J., Marier, E. A., Tranter, R. B., Wu, G., Watson, E. and Teale, C. J. (2015) Factors affecting dairy farmers' attitudes towards antimicrobial medicine usage in cattle in England and Wales. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 121 (1-2). pp. 30-40. ISSN 0167-5877

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2015.05.010


There has been growing concern about bacterial resistance to antimicrobials in the farmed livestock sector. Attention has turned to sub-optimal use of antimicrobials as a driver of resistance. Recent reviews have identified a lack of data on the pattern of antimicrobial use as an impediment to the design of measures to tackle this growing problem. This paper reports on a study that explored use of antibiotics by dairy farmers and factors influencing their decision-making around this usage. We found that respondents had either recently reduced their use of antibiotics, or planned to do so. Advice from their veterinarian was instrumental in this. Over 70% thought reducing antibiotic usage would be a good thing to do. The most influential source of information used was their own veterinarian. Some 50% were unaware of the available guidelines on use in cattle production. However, 97% thought it important to keep treatment records. The Theory of Planned Behaviour was used to identify dairy farmers’ drivers and barriers to reduce use of antibiotics. Intention to reduce usage was weakly correlated with current and past practice of antibiotic use, whilst the strongest driver was respondents’ belief that their social and advisory network would approve of them doing this. The higher the proportion of income from milk production and the greater the chance of remaining in milk production, the significantly higher the likelihood of farmers exhibiting positive intention to reduce antibiotic usage. Such farmers may be more commercially minded than others and thus more cost-conscious or, perhaps, more aware of possible future restrictions. Strong correlation was found between farmers’ perception of their social referents’ beliefs and farmers’ intent to reduce antibiotic use. Policy makers should target these social referents, especially veterinarians, with information on the benefits from, and the means to, achieving reductions in antibiotic usage. Information on sub-optimal use of antibiotics as a driver of resistance in dairy herds and in humans along with advice on best farm practice to minimise risk of disease and ensure animal welfare, complemented with data on potential cost savings from reduced antibiotic use would help improve poor practice.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Agri-Food Economics & Marketing
ID Code:41559
Uncontrolled Keywords:Antimicrobials; Farmers’ attitude; Veterinarians; Disease prevention; On-farm costs


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