Developing Role Models for Antibiotic Stewardship and Biosecurity on Dairy Farms

2007 Annual Report for SW06-032

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2006: $125,145.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Ron Wohrle
Tacoma Pierce County Health Dept

Developing Role Models for Antibiotic Stewardship and Biosecurity on Dairy Farms


This project strives to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics by promoting a group of dairy producers to become role models for antibiotic stewardship and biosecurity in Washington State. We have engaged eight dairy producers and their veterinarians in creating, implementing, and evaluating individualized antibiotic stewardship and biosecurity plans aimed at ensuring appropriate antibiotic use and infection control procedures on the farm. Additionally, we are developing a standardized assessment tool and model plan for distribution to dairy producers in the region and are promoting the diffusion of antibiotic stewardship concepts from the participating farms to the wider dairy industry.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Objective 1: Create, implement, and evaluate individualized Antibiotic Stewardship and Biosecurity Plans on six to ten dairy farms, aimed at ensuring appropriate antibiotic use and biosecurity procedures. Educate participating dairy operators about the importance of and methods for preserving the efficacy of antibiotics.

Target: Six producers will participate in developing stewardship plans
Progress: Target exceeded; eight producers developed stewardship plans

Target: Four producers will implement at least 50% of the recommended practices in the stewardship plans within the first 9 months
Progress: This target is difficult to measure. In developing the plans, producers were offered a menu of goals to which they assigned priority levels. Deciding which goals to include in this measure is, thus, subjective. In addition, assessing implementation is difficult, as it is unclear how to count partial implementation of a broad goal or the selection of an alternative solution to a problem. In looking only at goals assigned a priority level of one to three (on a scale of one to ten), counting substantial or full implementation or the use of an alternative solution, then six of the eight farms implemented at least 50% of the recommended practices.

Target: The final assessments will demonstrate overall increases in knowledge, application of biosecurity practices, use of protocols for disease management, documentation of antibiotic use and disease occurrence, participation by the herd veterinarian in antibiotic use decisions, and decreases in the use of non-recommended antibiotics
Progress: The final assessments have not been completed at this time, but will be carried out in 2008.

Objective 2: Develop an Antibiotic Stewardship and Biosecurity Assessment Tool and Model Plan for distribution to dairy producers in the Northwest.
Progress: We have drafts of these items and will finalize them in 2008.

Objective 3: Promote the diffusion of antibiotic stewardship and biosecurity concepts from the participating farms to the wider industry.
Target: participants will demonstrate a commitment to promoting antibiotic stewardship and biosecurity in the dairy industry, evidenced by speaking at industry meetings or other channels.
Progress: This target has not been achieved. Most of the participants are reluctant to speak at industry meetings. They report that they sometimes discuss these topics with neighboring dairy producers in casual settings in response to questions, but they are unwilling to initiate such discussions or speak in public.

Objective 4: Investigate the feasibility of developing an Antibiotic Stewardship Certification Program to ensure the sustainability of this effort and to disseminate it beyond the participating farms.
Progress: This will be carried out in 2008.


To date, we have:
  • Carried out in-depth assessments of antibiotic use and biosecurity on eight Washington State dairy farms,
    Worked with these eight dairy producers and their herd veterinarians to develop antibiotic stewardship and biosecurity plans,
    Assisted the eight participating producers to implement the top priority items in their plans by providing expertise, educational materials, and other resources as available,
    Presented project goals at statewide and regional dairy meetings, and
    Provided opportunities for participants to share their experiences and accomplishments with each other at small group meetings.
There have been a number of significant accomplishments. These include:
  • Project staff visited each farm one to three times in 2007, for a total of 17 on-farm visits.
    In all cases the herd veterinarian has been involved in the project by reviewing and discussing goals and providing input regarding disease treatment.
    Several farms have eliminated their use and stores of unapproved antibiotics.
    Several farms have reduced or eliminated certain extra-label uses of antibiotics deemed particularly troublesome from the perspective of antibiotic residues.
    Several farms have taken steps to reduce or eliminate mixing animals from other operations with their herds.
    Farms that were identified to have sanitation problems have improved pen hygiene.
    Four farms initiated on-farm bacterial culturing for determining the need for antibiotics in cases of mastitis.
    Most farms have improved record-keeping of antibiotic treatments of individual animals.
    There is increased implementation of FARAD withdrawal periods for milk and meat after antibiotic use.
    Several producers have begun obtaining appropriate labels for extra-label drug uses from their veterinarians.
    Some farms have initiated mid-lactation hoof-trimming, which decreased the risk of lameness.
    Three farms have decreased or eliminated their use of subtherapeutic doses of antibiotics in feed.
    Two farms have obtained and implemented protocols for drug treatment.
    We routinely provide educational materials to the participants to assist them in accomplishing their goals.
    Five producers have completed biological risk management assessments provided by Iowa State University.
    The Washington State Dairy Federation continues to support the project and promote its goals.
    Veterinarians at Washington State University continue to support the project by providing expert advice. A new dairy extension veterinarian at WSU is on the Project Advisory Board.

Work remaining: In 2008 we will:
  • Evaluate the project’s impact on each participating farm,
    Produce a standardized on-farm antibiotic stewardship assessment tool,
    Produce a model antibiotic stewardship plan,
    Disseminate the above materials to dairy producers in the region, and
    Continue to encourage participants to disseminate their knowledge regarding antibiotic stewardship.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

This project has increased awareness among the participating dairy producers of the need to judiciously use antibiotics. By virtue of their participation, most of these producers are “early adopters” of change, and their presence in the community should lead others to adopt new procedures over time. The infusion of information regarding antibiotic use into the dairy community, combined with scientific information produced by Washington State University and disseminated by their Extension agents, will promote antibiotic stewardship, which should preserve antibiotic effectiveness for use in dairy animals and protect the public from antibiotic residues and resistant pathogens.


LaDon Linde

[email protected]
PO Box 1043
Sunnyside, WA 98944
Office Phone: 5098542624