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Farmer action groups

In this video, Lisa Morgans describes the bottom-up approach to initiating change in antimicrobial prescribing.
Welcome to motivating change in production animal practice, a case study. My name’s Lisa Morgans. And I’m going to share with you some bottom-up ways to initiate and support changes on farm. This follows on from Kristen Reyher’s overview of how to motivate change of clients and colleagues. And I’m going to share a bit about working specifically with farming clients to transform antimicrobial use and provide some tools for change that can help practitioners across all species with antimicrobial stewardship. One way of motivating change that has very successful with farmers in the UK and farmers in other countries is using a bottom-up approach to initiate change. As part of my PhD, I explored how such an approach could help farmers reduce antimicrobial use.
The group learning approach was first developed by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN, and later adapted for Danish dairy farmers and called stable schools. In the UK in 2016, we at the University of Bristol with funding from AHDB Dairy established five groups of dairy farms across southwest England called farmer action groups. And I followed them as part of my PhD over a two-year period as they came together on one another’s farms to discuss medicine use and how to reduce usage by improving animal health and welfare. Everyone in the group got the opportunity to host the rest of their group on their farm and showcase what they were doing.
The meetings followed a cyclical pattern, the meeting agendas were created alongside the host farmer, and antimicrobial use benchmarking data was used to help the farmers reflect on any excessive or unnecessary use. This was a novel approach to knowledge exchange and prioritised farmer know-how rather than relying on traditional forms of veterinary communication and knowledge transfer whereby we as vets tell the client how to treat, how to prevent, with little consideration or inclusion of the client’s own motivations, needs, or concerns.
Each meeting in the farmer action group project was coordinated and guided by a trained facilitator and involved a practical farm walk led by the host farmers. After the group had heard from the host farmer and seen their medicine usage, facilitated discussion took place to help the farmers reflect on what each other was doing, learn from one another and each other practices, and through a peer support structure, co-create solutions for each farm to reduce the need for antimicrobials and refine the way they were being used. These farmer-led solutions and recommendations were solidified into a practical action plan and were based on their own experiential working knowledge of farms with support from the facilitators where knowledge gaps were identified.
At the time of the study, there were significant gaps in farmer knowledge, particularly on highest priority critically important antimicrobials. And there was pressure on the vets to provide more information and support in this area. This is a good example of where potential improvements to veterinary prescribing could occur. As Kristen Reyher discussed in the earlier parts of the course, motivating change requires adoption of novel communication strategies. And an approach like this can help veterinarians transform their antimicrobial use and prescribing.

In production animal practice, a different approach often has to be taken with farmers. In this video, Lisa Morgan shares some methods, specifically the bottom-up approach, to initiating change in antimicrobial prescribing on farms.

Kristen Reyher’s steps that were mentioned in the video are step 3.13, 3.14 and 3.15, and these cover motivating lasting changes within clients.

Lisa’s main points are as follows:

  • The importance of a group learning approach.
  • Regular on-farm meetings.
  • Using a novel approach to knowledge exchange.
  • Inclusion of the clients own needs and concerns.
  • Facilitated discussions with farmers.
  • Co-creation of solutions for individual farms on how to reduce antimicrobial use.

Please use the comments section to discuss how you have used the bottom-up approach on farms. Are there any additional methods similar to this that can also help to initiate change?

Please find a downloadable copy of the PowerPoint slides used in the video in the downloads section below.

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Antimicrobial Stewardship in Veterinary Practice

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