2018 Survey of antimicrobial drug use and stewardship practices in adult cows on California dairies: post-Senate Bill 27

PeerJ. 2021 Jul 13:9:e11515. doi: 10.7717/peerj.11515. eCollection 2021.


Background: A survey of California (CA) dairies was performed in spring 2018 to characterize antimicrobial stewardship practices, antimicrobial drug (AMD) use, and health management of adult cows on CA dairies since the implementation of the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) and the CA Senate Bill 27 (SB 27). Effective January 1, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) implemented regulatory changes requiring veterinary oversight for therapeutic uses of medically-important antimicrobial drugs (MIADs) administered in feed (VFD) and water (veterinary prescription). Similarly, effective January 1, 2018, the CA legislature enacted California Food and Agricultural Code (FAC) 14400-14408, formerly known as Senate Bill 27 (SB 27) requiring veterinary prescriptions for all other dosage forms of MIADs.

Methods: The questionnaire consisted of 43 questions partitioned into three sections to assess herd information, management practices, and AMD use and perspectives. The questionnaire was mailed to 1,282 grade A licensed dairies in CA and 149 responses (11.6%) were collected from 19 counties across the three defined regions of CA: Northern CA (NCA), Northern San Joaquin Valley (NSJV), and Greater Southern CA (GSCA).

Results: Most dairies reported treating all dry cows with intramammary AMD and/or teat sealant at the end of a lactation (87.2%). In 92.3% of dairies, producers relied on the veterinarian for information about AMD used to treat cows. Treatment duration for cows treated with AMD was based on the drug manufacturer's label and veterinarian's instructions in most dairies (98.6%). Most respondents to the survey confirmed having a valid veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) for their dairies (91.7%), participated in animal welfare audit programs (81.8%) and dairy quality assurance programs (52.9%). Approximately 98.6% respondents were aware that all uses of MIADs in livestock required a veterinary feed directive (VFD) or prescription and are no longer sold over-the-counter (OTC) in CA since January 1, 2018. Multiple factor analysis (MFA) was performed and identified seven components composed of 21 variables (questions) that explained 99.7% of the total variance in the data. Hierarchical cluster analysis on the principal coordinates of the MFA based on conventional dairy survey responses identified two clusters characterized as large conventional dairies (median herd size: 1,265 cows) and mid-sized conventional dairies (median herd size: 715 cows) mostly in GSCA and NSJV. The organic dairies grouped into a single cluster of median herd size of 325 cows mostly in NCA.

Conclusions: The survey results contribute to the knowledge of AMD use and antimicrobial stewardship practices on CA dairies since the implementation of the SB 27 and VFD laws and provide useful information for future evaluation of resistance-related risk in adult cows.

Keywords: Antimicrobial drugs (AMD); Antimicrobial resistance; Antimicrobial stewardship; California dairy industry survey; Judicious use of AMD.

Grants and funding

This research was funded by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the University of California Davis’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Office of Research’s Principal Investigator Bridge Program. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.