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Antibiotic usage on UK dairy farms: improving data capture and exploring drivers

The Royal Veterinary College

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Dr L Brunton , Dr J Cardwell No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

The use of antibiotics in livestock is a documented driver of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Food animals are likely to play a role in the dissemination of AMR in the environment and represent a source of exposure to humans. This makes AMR a One Health issue, which must be tackled through interdisciplinary, cross-sector collaboration. National data on antibiotic usage (ABU) in animals is reported annually in the UK, but there is a lack of comprehensive data on ABU by animal species, particularly for the dairy industry. It is likely that farmers do not perceive the utility of capturing such data. An optimised method of capturing ABU data could provide farmers with valuable information to guide decision making on the health and welfare of their animals, and provide valuable data to explore the drivers of AMR and improve surveillance. In addition, farmers may be incentivised to capture ABU data by retailer demands and the likelihood that the ‘Red Tractor’ farm and food standards scheme will introduce new requirements on ABU data recording for the dairy industry later this year.

The aim of this PhD project is to assess drivers for efficient ABU data capture and their association with reduced ABU and improved health and welfare. Through collaboration with VMD, APHA and industry, the project will: explore the use and efficiency of existing data capture systems, explore associations with ABU and AMR, use participatory epidemiology to assess drivers and preferences for the capture of ABU and health-related data, and conduct an economic analysis of the impact of ABU and AMR. Recommendations will be made to support the development of data capture mechanisms that will optimise recording of ABU by farmers, and maximise utility of the data and thus the benefit to farmers.
Desirable requirements:

Desirable requirements:

You do not need to be a vet but:

•some epidemiological training and
•familiarity with the UK livestock sector

would be useful.

Funding Notes

This is a three year fully funded studentship. It is open to Home/EU applicants only. International students are welcome to apply but must be able to pay the difference between UK/EU and international tuition fees.

This is a competition studentship.

The studentship will commence at the beginning of October 2017.


Brunton, L.A., Duncan, D., Coldham, N.G., Snow, L.C., Jones, J.R., (2012). A survey of antimicrobial usage on dairy farms and waste milk feeding practices in England and Wales. Veterinary Record 171: 296
• Jones, P.J. ; Marier, E.A. ; Tranter, R.B. ; Wu, G. ; Watson, E. ; Teale, C.J. (2015) Factors affecting dairy farmers’ attitudes towards antimicrobial medicine usage in cattle in England and Wales. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 121: 30-40
• Catley, A., Alders, R. G., Wood, J. L. N. (2012) Participatory epidemiology: Approaches, methods, experiences. The Veterinary Journal, 191: 151-160

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