Conventional swine production evolved to routinely use antimicrobials, and common occurrence of antimicrobial-resistant Salmonella has been reported. There is a paucity of information on the antimicrobial resistance of Salmonella in swine production in the absence of antimicrobial selective pressure. Therefore, we compared the prevalence and antimicrobial resistance of Salmonella isolated from antimicrobial-free and conventional production systems. A total of 889 pigs and 743 carcasses were sampled in the study. Salmonella prevalence was significantly higher among the antimicrobial-free systems (15.2%) than the conventional systems (4.2%) (odds ratio [OR] = 4.23; P < 0.05). Antimicrobial resistance was detected against 10 of the 12 antimicrobials tested. The highest frequency of resistance was found against tetracycline (80%), followed by streptomycin (43.4%) and sulfamethoxazole (36%). Frequency of resistance to most classes of antimicrobials (except tetracycline) was significantly higher among conventional farms than antimicrobial-free farms, with ORs ranging from 2.84 for chloramphenicol to 23.22 for kanamycin at the on-farm level. A total of 28 antimicrobial resistance patterns were detected. A resistance pattern with streptomycin, sulfamethoxazole, and tetracycline (n = 130) was the most common multidrug resistance pattern. There was no significant difference in the proportion of isolates with this pattern between the conventional (19.5%) and the antimicrobial-free systems (18%) (OR = 1.8; P > 0.05). A pentaresistance pattern with ampicillin, chloramphenicol, streptomycin, sulfamethoxazole, and tetracycline was strongly associated with antimicrobial-free groups (OR = 5.4; P = 0.01). While showing the higher likelihood of finding antimicrobial resistance among conventional herds, this study also implies that specific multidrug-resistant strains may occur on antimicrobial-free farms. A longitudinal study with a representative sample size is needed to reach more conclusive results of the associations detected in this study.

This content is only available as a PDF.