Background: Health, productivity and antimicrobial use in the production of pigs are expected to be interrelated to some extent. Previous studies on register-based data have investigated these correlations with a subsequent large variation residing at the farm level. In order to study such farm factors in more detail we designed an elaborate interview-guide. By in-depth interviews of farmers with well-managed 7-30 kg (weaner) productions we sought to describe a set of common key-factors characterizing their management practices. Identification of such common practices could be used in follow-up projects, investigating whether identified factors really are characteristic for good-practicing famers.Results: Eleven farms were selected for a farm visit and in-depth interview. Participating farms used less antimicrobials than the national median (8.2 animal daily doses/100 weaners/day), had a mortality below the national average (2.9%) and an average daily weight gain above the national average (443 g/day). Similarities were observed among participating farms, including the sectioning of farms, use of all-in-all-out procedures with subsequent cleaning, purchasing 7 kg weaners from only one source, as well as active participation in management by a committed farm owner. Most farmers had a specific point of focus in their management, and were convinced that this was the reason for their success. This included; feeding, treatment strategy, refurbishment of facilities and presence in the shed.Conclusion: According to register data, participating farms were alike; in the good league regarding use of antimicrobials, mortality and daily growth. However, on-farm interviews elucidated more heterogeneity among farmers than expected. Most of the farmers had a specific point of focus, which they considered to be crucial for their good results. These results indicate the importance of non-registerable factors, highlighting the value of qualitative study techniques in the understanding of human actions. Further studies on the effect of various farmer types are recommended.
- Antibiotic use