Understanding farmers’ mindsets is important to improve antimicrobial stewardship in the dairy industry. This cross-sectional study aimed to determine farmers’ knowledge, attitude, and practices with respect to lactational intramammary antimicrobial use (AMU) and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Swiss dairy herds. Based on their approach towards subclinical mastitis (SCM) and non-severe cases of clinical mastitis (CM), subgroups of farmers were identified and compared regarding their knowledge, attitude and practices towards AMU and AMR. After conducting qualitative interviews to develop a questionnaire, an online survey was sent to 1296 randomly selected Swiss dairy farmers. Information was gathered on demographic data and farmers’ knowledge, attitude, and practices towards AMU and AMR. A latent class analysis was performed to identify subgroups of farmers based on management of SCM and non-severe CM cases. Based on the results of 542 completed questionnaires, poor knowledge with respect to AMU and AMR was identified, as well as discrepancies between farmers’ perceptions and their actual practices. Farmers approached cows with SCM and non-severe CM similarly, indicating they perceived both mastitis states as the same disease. Intramammary antimicrobial products containing cefquinome, which is a highest priority critically important antimicrobial, were among the 3 most commonly applied intramammary antimicrobials. Five latent classes of farmers were identified based on their management towards SCM and non-severe CM. One group of farmers (18.5% of respondents) indicated that they did not treat those mastitis cases, one group only treated SCM cases (13.8% of respondents), one group only treated non-severe CM cases (28.6% of respondents) and the largest group treated both mastitis states (39.1% of respondents). The latter group was subdivided into a latent class of farmers following guidelines for AMU/AMR (25.5% of respondents) and a group of farmers that were not strictly following these guidelines (13.7% of respondents). Regional differences between farmers, according to altitude and language region, explained some of the variation in latent class membership. Latent class membership was associated with farmers’ attitude to use antimicrobials as little as possible and with using antimicrobials only after performing bacteriological and susceptibility testing. This study gave detailed insight into Swiss farmers’ knowledge, attitude, and practices regarding AMU and AMR and provides opportunities to improve antimicrobial stewardship in Swiss dairy herds. The identified groups of farmers, based on their management practices regarding SCM and non-severe CM, may help to design tailored intervention strategies for improving prudent AMU in the heterogeneous population of dairy farmers in Switzerland.
- Clinical mastitis
- Critically important antimicrobial
- Subclinical mastitis
- Udder health