Factors influencing Scottish dairy farmers’ antibiotic use

LA Pate*, Catherine E Milne, R McMorran, DJ Roberts, Alastair I Macrae

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Good stewardship of antibiotics can reduce the development and impact of antimicrobial resistance (AMR); therefore, understanding farmers’ antibiotic use is of interest to stakeholders. To date, few qualitative studies have looked at farmers’ antibiotic use on dairy farms in the UK.

Semi-structured interviews were used to explore 15 Scottish dairy farmers’ antibiotic use behaviours and the factors influencing their antibiotic use on farms.

Using an inductive process, the results from the interviews were analysed, and four key themes were extracted: use of antibiotics, awareness of AMR, determinants of antibiotic use and future aspirations.

Some of the farmers interviewed were wary about discussing their antibiotic use, which could mean that some contentious issues were not discussed. The farmers also all belonged to a single milk-buying group, which may limit the generalisability of the findings.

The quantities of antibiotics used were felt to be driven by the disease prevalence on farms, cows being indoors more, increasing herd sizes resulting in increased stocking densities, retention of poorer cows and substandard housing. Farmer knowledge of antibiotics varied, and not all farmers interviewed were aware of AMR. The farm veterinarian, the press and peers were found to be the main sources of antibiotic information.
Original languageEnglish
JournalVeterinary Record
Issue number12
Early online date13 May 2023
Publication statusFirst published - 13 May 2023


  • antimicrobials
  • behaviour
  • dairy cattle
  • general management
  • resistance
  • Farmers
  • Humans
  • Dairying/methods
  • Scotland
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Farms
  • Female
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents/therapeutic use


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