Farmers needed for new UOW study on antibiotic use in farm animals

Researchers seeking farmers and agricultural workers from the Illawarra, northern Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands to share their views on antibiotic use in farm animals and associated risks of antimicrobial resistance

Farmers needed for new UOW study on antibiotic use in farm animals

University of Wollongong researchers are seeking farmers and agricultural workers to take part in new research about how antibiotics are used in farm animals in Australia.

Chief investigator Dr Chris Degeling from the Australian Centre for Health Engagement, Evidence and Values at the University of Wollongong (UOW) says the use of antibiotics in agriculture often causes controversy.

“Antibiotics are used to treat farm animals, such as dairy cows, when they are sick with an infection and the misuse of them can increase the risk to human and animal health from antimicrobial resistant superbugs,” he said.

“This is an important study because while people are quick to blame agriculture for rising rates of antimicrobial resistance, the evidence suggests Australian farmers are practising antibiotic stewardship far better than their peers in other parts of the world.”

Dr Degeling says the views of farmers are missing from discussions about antimicrobial resistance (AMR). He hopes this study will provide new perspectives on how best to manage the risks of AMR in Australia.

“Antibiotic use in agriculture is highly regulated in Australia and different factors shape decisions compared to those made in human medicine,” he said.

Chief investigator Chris Degeling. Photo: Paul Jones

“Those arguing for greater restriction of antibiotic use in agriculture say it will save lives by lowering one of the known drivers of antimicrobial resistance and those arguing against it say the industry is well regulated and the major driver of AMR is antibiotic use in humans.

“Our research team wants to talk to farmers and agricultural workers in the Illawarra to understand how they make decisions about antibiotic use and how they think Australia should manage the threat of AMR in the future.”

The researchers want to hear from adults who work in agriculture on any type of farm in the Illawarra, northern Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands. Participants will be asked to take part in an interview which can be done in person or over the phone. Interviews will take less than an hour and participants will receive a $20 gift voucher for Coles or Woolworths for their involvement in the study.

This project is part of a larger study examining antibiotic use in the Illawarra. The Wollongong Antimicrobial Resistance Research Alliance (WARRA) is a collaborative initiative involving academics from UOW, the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute and the Illawarra and Shoalhaven Local Health District.

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