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Publication - Professor David Barrett

    Using ethnography to study veterinary medicine use

    Citation

    Rees, G, Reyher, K, Barrett, D & Buller, H, 2017, ‘Using ethnography to study veterinary medicine use’.

    Abstract

    The use of veterinary medicines on dairy farms has come under increased scrutiny recently, driven by the rising awareness of the risks of antimicrobial resistance to human health. Despite the speed with which legislation and policy are changing, a gap in the knowledge has been identified: How are these medicines actually used and recorded on-farm? Without this baseline data, it is difficult to inform policy in a way that can be effective and even more difficult to measure any change or improvement in the future.
    This study will explore the relationships that exist between the farmer, farm workers, the veterinarian and the cows within the context of the current legislative and economic conditions, and how these may influence the use of medicines on these farms. Ethnographic techniques are powerful tools commonly used in the fields of anthropology and geography in order to explore cultural phenomena, and it is believed that these techniques will provide rich, detailed data with which to begin answering these questions.
    Three UK dairy farms have been enrolled for a 12-month participant observation study commencing in late 2016. The farms have been purposively heterogeneously sampled to provide a range of different herd sizes, management structures and production goals. A semi-targeted approach to participant observation will be used to maximise time spent on-farm during periods of medicine use or decision-making. An initial period where the observer will spend time each week participating in routine tasks on each farm including milking, feeding, handling and routine veterinary visits will inform a further period of targeted study, where the observer will attend the farms during periods of mutually-agreed interest such as herd health review meetings, TB testing, worming treatments, dry cow therapy and vaccination. Preliminary data from the first 4 months of the study will be presented, alongside discussion of the value of this research methodology in this context.

    Full details in the University publications repository