Antibiotic Use and Resistance in Central and Atlantic Canada

Project Title

Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Eastern Canadian Cow-Calf Herds - Establishing a Baseline for Antimicrobial Stewardship


Jessica Gordon (University of Guelph Ontario Veterinary College)

Cheryl Waldner (University of Saskatchewan – Western College of Veterinary Medicine), Marjolaine Rousseau (University of Montreal – Faculty of Veterinary Medicine)

Status Project Code
In progress. Results expected in September, 2024 ANH.30.20


Since December 2018, Canada’s cattle producers have required a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship and a veterinary prescription before they can obtain antibiotics for their cattle. Since then, many veterinarians have encountered cattle producers who previously purchased their over-the-counter antibiotics from farm supply stores. The ensuing conversations may have resulted in changes to which antibiotics are being purchased and used in cow-calf operations.

A project funded in 2019 is surveying veterinarians about how prescribing practices, attitudes and information needs have changed, on-farm AMU herd- and animal-level practices, and AMR in cows and calves (spring and fall) in western Canada. This project will expand that initiative into Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.


  • describe AMU and AMR in cow-calf herds in eastern Canada and
  • compare to historical data and data from other areas of Canada

What they will do

They will survey veterinarians participating in the Canadian Cow-Calf Surveillance Network about changes in veterinary prescribing practices, veterinary and producer attitudes and information needs, on-farm herd- and animal-level antibiotic use practices, and antibiotic resistance in cows and calves in spring and fall.

Antibiotic use data will be collected from Canadian Cow-Calf Surveillance Network participants in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. Fecal samples for antibiotic resistance will be collected from 10 cows and 10 calves from each herd. Samples will be stored at -80 for future genomic testing.

Data will be summarized and compared to historical data. Differences in antibiotic use and resistance will be compared between cows and calves, between spring and fall, within and between herds. Risk factors for antibiotic use and resistance and potential areas for further enhancing antimicrobial stewardship and surveillance will be investigated.


Individual animal antibiotic use and resistance hasn’t been studied in Eastern Canada since 1999. Given increased regulatory, consumer and foodservice interest in antibiotic use practices, this research also presents an opportunity to determine identify how to best communicate best practices regarding antibiotic use and general animal health and production practices to minimize the risk of antibiotic resistance.