A participatory, farmer-led approach to changing practice around antimicrobial use on UK dairy farms

  • Lisa C Morgans

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This research aimed to understand how a participatory approach based on the Danish Stable Schools helped to achieve practical, farmer-led changes to reduce reliance on antimicrobials.
Five Farmer Action Groups (FAGs) were established across South West England and followed for 2 years as they worked together to discuss how to reduce antimicrobial use (AMU) on their farms. Medicine Reviews and benchmarking were carried out on each farm to assess any change in AMU. A practical Action Plan was co-produced at each meeting for the host farm to work on to reduce reliance on AMU. All farms implemented at least one recommendation from their Action Plan within a year with an average implementation of 54.3%. Many recommendations were still ongoing at the end of the study. The majority of participating farms (n=27) reduced highest priority critically important antimicrobial (HPCIAs) use over the 2 years. Participants spoke highly of the project and benefited from the sharing of knowledge at each meeting. The exchange of knowledge on herd health during the farm walks and facilitated discussions empowered farmers to change practices; they gained confidence from the group learning experience. The FAGs developed a sense of solidarity from going through a process of change together. Knowledge gaps were identified by the participating farmers, particularly on HPCIAs. This highlighted issues around knowledge mobilisation between veterinarians and farmers at the time of the study. A key component of the FAGs were the facilitators who supported the knowledge mobilisation and helped build a sense of solidarity within the FAGs. There is potential for this approach to be scaled-up across the country. Funding for facilitation that can be readily accessed by farmers and training facilitators to support new groups is a primary proposal that has emerged from this research.
Date of Award1 Oct 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SponsorsAHDB Dairy & The Langford Trust
SupervisorKristen K Reyher (Supervisor), David Main (Supervisor), Henry Buller (Supervisor) & Maria Paula Escobar-Tello (Supervisor)

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