Attitudes, Perceptions and Behaviours of Dairy Farmers towards Antimicrobial Usage and Treatment of Mastitis

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


There is a need for the agricultural industry to reduce their antimicrobial usage due to the potential zoonotic transfer of resistant bacteria from animals to humans being deemed responsible for the emergence of antimicrobial resistance in human health. Despite recent progress, the dairy sector still overuses antimicrobials by prophylactically treating all cows for mastitis as treatment and prevention. Whilst antimicrobials are administered for various diseases in dairy cows, antimicrobial resistance has been linked most significantly to mastitis treatment. Thus strategies such as selective dry cow treatment need to be promoted where only select cows likely to contract mastitis receive antimicrobial treatment at drying off in order to reduce usage of antimicrobials. Existing research has found farmers’ attitudes to affect their behaviour towards the treatment of disease potentially influencing the variation in mastitis prevalence between farms. However, there is limited research focussing on dairy farmers and how their perceptions affect mastitis treatment. Therefore the aim of this study was to evaluate dairy farmers’ perceptions, attitudes and behaviours towards the antimicrobial treatment of mastitis as well as the factors that affect them. A systematic review was carried out utilising electronic databases that provided 455 peer reviewed journals of which 21 met the criteria for inclusion. Results showed that having knowledge of resistance was not always motivating enough to cause a reduction in antimicrobial usage. Several dairy farmers gave a positive outlook towards reducing their antimicrobial usage however cited many constraints in their ability to do so. Varying perceptions of mastitis were found which could influence mastitis treatment behaviour. There was an apparent reluctance to implement selective dry cow treatment amongst several dairy farmers. The factors bearing most influence on dairy farmers to improve mastitis were found to be internal factors relating to the farmer’s own mindset. The veterinarian was classified as a trusted source of information and influenced farmers’ antimicrobial usage thus was perceived as important for the future of mastitis treatment. Peer influence was also found to affect farmers’ treatment behaviour towards extending treatment longer than required. Solutions for the future were found to be the increased use of media, educational tools and diagnostics to educate farmers and aid mastitis treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


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