Assessment of antibiotic use practices of dairy cattle farmers, the knowledge and attitude of milk consumers on antibiotic residues in milk in Rubaya and Rwanyamahembe Subcounties of Mbarara District
Ayebazibwe, Godra Bagyenda
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Dairy farming is widely practiced globally since milk is consumed in literally all the countries in the world. Dairy farming has rapidly increased over the years due to the very high demand posed by the ever-growing human population. The increasing demand for animal protein has compelled farmers to adopt intensive systems of production. Within these intensive systems of production, farmers use antibiotics excessively for various purposes. Inappropriate antibiotic use in food animals is among the leading causes of antibiotic resistance therefore it is crucial to regulate their use. This study aimed at assessing the antibiotic use practices of the dairy cattle farmers as well as the knowledge and attitude of milk consumers towards antibiotic residues in milk. A cross-sectional study was carried out in Rubaya and Rwanyamahembe subcounties of Mbarara district using semi-structured questionnaires. Sixty (60) farmers and 188 consumers were interviewed. The respondents were gotten using the snow-balling sampling technique. The data collected was entered into excel, cleaned and organized. The data was then imported into SPSS for analysis. Chi-square tests were used to check for association between variables and a probability value less than 0.05 was considered for statistical significance at a 95% confidence level. It was found out that all the farmers used antibiotics on their farms. The irrational antibiotic use practices by the dairy farmers noted were; failure to observe the withdrawal periods (79%), diagnosis and treatment of sick animals made by the farmers (58.3%), wrong dosing patterns (51.7%) and failure to complete the recommended treatment regimen (26.7%). The relationship between choice of dose determination and whether the antibiotics work at recommended doses was statistically significant with a P-value of 0.016. It was found out that majority of the milk consumers (71.8%) have no idea about occurrence of drug residues in milk and 63.8% have not heard about antibiotic resistance. There was a statistically significant association between level of education and attitude towards drug residues in milk (P-value=0.018) as well as between level of education and awareness about antibiotic resistance (P-value=0.002). The observed antibiotic use patterns could predispose consumers to residues in animal food products and as such, regular monitoring patterns should be established. Restriction policies should be implemented so that antibiotics are only issued to farmers with prescriptions from qualified personnel. Additionally, consumer awareness campaigns should be implemented in order to educate them about antibiotic residues in milk and antibiotic resistance.