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Chicken or Egg: Drivers for Antimicrobial Resistance in Poultry in India

Key investigator: Dr Alison Prendiville,

Funded by: ESRC Newton Bhabha Fund

Project summary

Chicken or Egg: Drivers for Antimicrobial Resistance in Poultry in India (DARPI) looks at how the emergence of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is a major threat to human and animal health. AMR affects livestock productivity, impacting farmer livelihoods, food security and safety.

The inappropriate use of antimicrobials in people and livestock production contributes to this problem. India has a burden of infectious disease, and bacteria from human clinical infections are becoming increasingly difficult to treat.

Poultry is the fastest growing livestock sector in India, it supplies affordable protein and is integral to food security. Studies suggest that livestock may commonly carry resistant bacteria in their gut, with poultry and poultry mean also identified as a source of such bacteria.

Yet there is a lack of data on the scale of the issue, or on what antimicrobials are being used in poultry meat production, how they are used and how this contributes to the carriage of AMR bacteria that may be a threat to human and animal health.

Project aims

This interdisciplinary project will address the gaps in knowledge by understanding practices on farms and how disease is managed, while determining the drivers for the development of AMR in the whole supply chain in 3 of the main poultry-producing states of India.

DARPI aims to:

  • be the first in India to link and make visible, social and economic behaviours which contribute to AMR selection and transmission in an intensive animal production system
  • increase understanding of AMR selection through tracking AMR genes; and, enable better understanding of the economic and social dimensions contributing to AMR

UAL’s Alison Prendiville is a researcher in service, product and strategic design. Her contribution to the project allows her to lead co-design workshops and design service design tools to be implemented in the research. These will facilitate the development of interventions, which are feasible, acceptable and cost-effective to reduce or mitigate AMR in the Indian poultry meat supply chain.


The project will map out practices and flow of birds, feed, manure waste, antimicrobials and broiler meat products within specific locations in India, and within the wider community context, using participatory ethnographic and service design approaches, data collection and sampling.

By selecting a parent flock at each location and following the supply of birds through the hatchery to farm, with 5 farms followed per region, the project will capture diversity and practices contributing to AMR. This will include the burden of AMR on broiler meat at retail, thus the risk to public health.

The supply chain from breeder to retail will be followed over 3 separate broiler meat life cycles. An integrated collection of qualitative and quantitative data will provide valuable opportunities for training in social design and ethnographic methodology.

The team will determine practices, use and the drivers for use of AM, and quantify the abundance and diversity of AMR along this chain. They will also determine the co-occurrence of mobile AMR plasmids (a genetic structure in a cell that can replicate independently of the chromosomes), using a novel capture technique and next generation sequencing at critical points such as human/animal and animal/environmental contact.

The project will undertake vivo experiments in commercial broilers to minimise AMR selection and determine the effectiveness of alternative treatments. Once AMR burdens are understood, participatory design tools to co-design will be developed to ensure that interventions are feasible, acceptable and cost-effective.

These tools will be developed with consideration of the future trajectory of the Indian poultry industry, so that approaches are scalable, sustainable and able to react to accommodate anticipated trajectory development in India.

Project team



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