Why do Irish pig farmers use medications? Barriers for effective reduction of antimicrobials in Irish pig production

Ir Vet J. 2021 Apr 30;74(1):12. doi: 10.1186/s13620-021-00193-3.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: In addressing the threat of antimicrobial resistance, it is critical to understand the barriers to the uptake of strategies for the reduction of antimicrobial use (AMU) in the pig industry. In several EU countries, factors such as education level, habits and social pressures are recognised as affecting farmers' decision-making process in relation to AMU. However, there is a lack of information on the Irish scenario. The aim of this study was to investigate pig farmers' perspectives and their behaviour towards AMU to identify potential barriers to effectively reduce AMU in Irish pig production. We conducted face-to-face semi-structured interviews with 30 pig farmers, 5 pig veterinarians and 4 focus groups of pig farm personnel. We employed qualitative analyses to explore the objective of the study.

RESULTS: Qualitative analysis revealed six convergent themes as potential barriers: perceptions about the need for AMU on farm, concept of animal welfare and associated management practices, legislation, culture, economics and standards of communication/type of advice-network. Overall, pig farmers believed that there is poor communication between stakeholders (i.e. farmers, vets and advisors) and a lack of reliable people to approach for advice. They considered themselves as operating responsibly in terms of AMU compared to their national and international colleagues and expressed the importance of a so-called 'Irish solution' to the problem of AMU because it was associated with what 'has always been done' and was therefore considered reliable and safe.

CONCLUSIONS: Barriers and challenges were in line with those identified in other EU countries highlighting similarities in behavioural and attitudinal patterns among pig farmers. Overall, farmers appeared to be more likely to rely on previous experiences or to wait for an imposed change (e.g. legislation) instead of taking personal action. Thus, considerable behavioural and attitudinal changes are needed to adopt a more responsible AMU in Irish pig production and to develop effective intervention strategies.

PMID:33941278 | DOI:10.1186/s13620-021-00193-3