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A survey of dairy cow farmers in the United Kingdom: knowledge, attitudes and practices surrounding antimicrobial use and resistance
  1. Laura Elizabeth Higham1,
  2. Amanda Deakin1,
  3. Emma Tivey1,
  4. Vicky Porteus2,
  5. Stephen Ridgway2 and
  6. Ann Catherine Rayner1
  1. 1FAI Farms, Oxford, UK
  2. 2Arla Foods Plc, Leeds, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence; annie.rayner{at}


Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is among the most pressing challenges facing humanity. This survey of dairy cow farmers (n=372) was conducted to explore knowledge, attitudes and practices surrounding veterinary medicine use and to identify farmer-led solutions to reducing, replacing and refining antimicrobial use. Antimicrobials were the most commonly reported veterinary medicines used. Twenty-two per cent of the antibiotics used by dairy farmers contained a highest priority critically important active ingredient. Mastitis was rated as the most important health and welfare challenge and was the most common reason for medicine use. Frequency of veterinary contact was associated with a decrease in the use of antibiotic footbaths, more ‘responsible’ treatment choices and increased knowledge of AMR. Purchasing medicine from a vet practice rather than elsewhere was associated with an increased likelihood of disposing of waste milk responsibly. These findings highlight the important role of veterinarians in guiding responsible medicine use. Ninety per cent of participants stated that they were trying to reduce their antimicrobial use. Farmers suggested a wide array of alternative treatments and potential interventions for managing herd health. Findings from this project could be used to target education and training surrounding best practice, supporting the important role that farmers play in protecting public health.

  • antimicrobials
  • dairy cattle
  • farm animals
  • veterinary profession
  • surveys
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  • LEH and ACR contributed equally.

  • Funding This study was funded by McDonald’s UK.

  • Disclaimer McDonald’s UK were not involved in the design, data collection or data analysis of this project.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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