Understanding Prescription Veterinary Medicine Use on UK Dairy Farms

  • Gwen Rees

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Background: The way that prescription veterinary medicines (PVM) are used on UK dairy farms is currently poorly understood, despite the importance of understanding antimicrobial use in agriculture and its potential impact on antimicrobial resistance.
Methods: This research includes a cross-sectional study of PVM storage practices across 27 UK dairy farms, a method agreement analysis of the three most common ways to quantify on-farm use of PVM to determine the best measurement method and a qualitative ethnographic study exploring the values of dairy farmers and the on-farm context and culture in relation to the use of PVM.
Results: UK dairy farmers stored PVM in a broadly ‘correct’ way, although in varying quantities. Storage of expired and unlicensed medicines was common, and occasionally inappropriate medicines were present on farms. Veterinary sales data showed the best levels of both clinical agreement and reliability with a gold standard of the three measuring methods tested; medicine waste bins showed moderate agreement with the gold standard and on-farm medicine records did not agree with the gold standard for use, and, as such, are not an effective way of reliably measuring actual PVM use. The attitudes, values and contexts most relevant to medicine use practice can be broadly divided into four dominant themes: knowledge, trust, autonomy of treatment practice and a duty of care. The way these themes can impact on medicine use is not straightforward, and occasionally seem contradictory. It is important, however, to realise that changing medicine use practices requires an understanding of all factors involved in treatment decisions.
Discussion: This thesis demonstrates an important contribution to the scientific knowledge of veterinary medicine use through innovative methods and provides an evidence base from which to further develop models of treatment decision and behavioural intervention aimed at improving responsible medicine use alongside recommendations for policy makers.
Date of Award25 Jun 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorDavid C Barrett (Supervisor), Kristen K Reyher (Supervisor) & Henry Buller (Supervisor)


  • antimicrobial
  • Dairy cattle
  • Veterinary sciences & veterinary medicine
  • medicine use
  • antibiotic
  • AMR

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