The antimicrobial landscape as outlined by Danish dairy farmers

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Limiting antimicrobial use (AMU) in dairy farming is an important step toward reducing antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Therefore, it is relevant to understand dairy farmers' choices and the potential for change in relation to AMU, even in countries with low usage. Furthermore, there is an increasing recognition of the need to focus on both the individual farmer's behavior as well as the context surrounding and influencing the farmer's decisions in relation to AMU if the goal is further reduction. To date, no studies have taken into account both the individual farmer and their context in both conventional and organic dairy farms under Danish conditions. For this study, 15 Danish dairy farmers were interviewed using qualitative semi-structured research interviews, and the notion of landscape was used to describe the context of their AMU. We found that AMR was considered a distant element of the farmers' antimicrobial landscape. Daily challenges such as acutely diseased animals and poor housing conditions seemed more urgent and overruled the threat of AMR. We also found that interviewed farmers had differing opinions on farm management, partly shaped by changes in legislation and ways of farming over time. At one end of the scale, some organic farmers had rethought the current way of farming; keeping robust animals in a natural setting was expected to prevent disease. They were positive about legislation, and the numerous restrictions on AMU over time were thought to contribute to ensuring quality for consumers. At the other end of the scale, some conventional farmers perceived disease as something that should be controlled through treatment, and the currently eased legislation and intensification of farming have legitimatized AMU for this purpose, leading to an expectation among these farmers of certain rights to handle medicines themselves. These contrasting views might lead to inspiration and competition in terms of reducing AMU, as the farmers appeared to value the opinions of other farmers, and they were found to continuously assess each other. Through such ongoing assessment, pioneers of AMU reduction—whether organic or conventional—might motivate their colleagues to change their AMU. Future research should address the potential of experience- and attitude-sharing among farmers as motivation to reduce AMU.

TidsskriftJournal of Dairy Science
Udgave nummer10
Sider (fra-til)11147-11164
StatusUdgivet - 2021

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the University of Copenhagen (Copenhagen, Denmark). The authors extend a special thank-you to all of the farmers who openly and willingly participated in the interviews and generously shared their personal thoughts and experiences of antimicrobial use. The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Dairy Science Association

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