On Mon 22nd March, we held another successful online workshop with 8 dairy farmers and 4 researchers aiming to co-produce knowledge on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and farming – what really does drive resistance and are UK farmers really to blame?

The workshop was the second event in a GW4 University collaboration that built on the practical insights of farmers and presented the latest research on AMR in the farm environment. Academics from Bristol, Bath, Cardiff and Exeter joined forces to understand more about AMR from a farming perspective and to appreciate the risks around the spread of bacteria and possible resistance in and off the farm environment. A rare but valued opportunity to bridge the science-practice gap!

Antibiotic use in farming has been blamed for driving the development of AMR, despite year-on-year reductions in antibiotic use across UK farming sectors. The researchers used this workshop as an opportunity to update the progressive farmers on the latest science around the selection and transmission of AMR and hear their thoughts on what the research was indicating.

A recent study from the University of Bristol has demonstrated that certain types of E.coli found on dairy farms in a specific area were genetically distinct from the types of E.coli found in human urinary tract infections in the same area, suggesting little to no transmission of resistance between farms and humans. The participating dairy farmers got to question and interrogate the academics on key transmission pathways of AMR in the farm environment, as well as offer their expertise on daily farming practices and the uncertainty around particular management decisions. What to do with waste milk that may contain antibiotic residues and resistant bacteria was a popular topic. The group agreed feeding waste milk to calves was not best practice, but the alternative was discarding it into the slurry storage. Once waste milk goes into slurry and out on to pasture, what happens to the resistant bacteria then? Science does not have all the answers and often throws up more questions. A vital reason why more collaborative farmer-researcher events are needed!

Written by Lisa Morgans, Head of the livestock team at IfA. For more information contact lisam@i4agri.org