International organizations and governments have argued that animal health service providers can play a vital role in limiting antimicrobial resistance by promoting the prudent use of antimicrobials. However, there is little research on the impact of these service providers on prudent use at the farm level, especially in low- and middle-income countries where enforcement of prudent-use regulations is limited. Here, we use a mixed-methods approach to assess how animal health-seeking practices on layer farms in Ghana (n = 110) and Kenya (n = 76) impact self-reported antimicrobial usage, engagement in prudent administration and withdrawal practices and perceptions of antimicrobial resistance. In general, our results show that the frequency of health-seeking across a range of service providers (veterinarians, agrovets, and feed distributors) does not significantly correlate with prudent or non-prudent use practices or the levels of antimicrobials used. Instead, we find that patterns of antimicrobial use are linked to how much farmers invest in biosecurity (e.g., footbaths) and the following vaccination protocols. Our results emphasize that more research is required to understand the interactions between animal health service providers and farmers regarding antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance. Addressing these gaps will be crucial to inform antimicrobial stewardship training, curriculums and, guidelines whose ultimate purpose is to limit the selection and transmission of antimicrobial resistance.
Keywords: Ghana; Kenya; antimicrobial resistance; antimicrobial stewardship; antimicrobial use; health seeking; poultry farming.