Farm Futures
   Search Site:  Search Site Wednesday, April 16, 2014 | Bookmark This Site   
Skip Navigation Links
Farm Futures NOW!
Magazine Online
RSS News
About Us

Explaining Livestock Antibiotic Use to Consumers

Telling Your Story

Most consumers have questions but no answers – it's your opportunity to educate them

Published on: December 6, 2012

Over the past few years there have been a lot of headlines about antibiotic use in livestock intended for food consumption. Most of the stories claim 70-85% of all antibiotics are given to livestock. These stories generate a lot of questions from the general population, such as:  Is it necessary to use such a high percentage of antibiotics in the livestock industry?  Are the antibiotics being administered properly?  Are more antibiotics given than necessary?  What are the ramifications for humans consuming meat from animals given antibiotics?  Are more antibiotics given than in the past? 

There are lots of questions and unknowns to the average consumer. To make these questions more concerning, there are stories that try to tie antibiotic use in animals to diseases and reduction in antibiotic effectiveness. 

A presentation that I sat in on recently noted that 80% of the antibiotics used were given to livestock, and of the antibiotics administered to livestock, 80% of those were in the form of low dosage in feed (It should be noted that this presentation was given by someone who is against using antibiotics for livestock intended for food consumption). 

The deep concern by the general population seems to be more around feeding of low dosage antibiotics rather than the occasional usage for treatment. 

If you're approached by a consumer who is concerned about antibiotic use, it might be helpful to explain why a rancher might choose to use a low dosage of antibiotics. Also, the average person does not know about the withdrawal period that you as a rancher must comply with. There may also be questions of whether or not all ranchers follow the withdrawal period as prescribed. It might be helpful to explain the process that you go through on your farm.

A friend shared this article that breaks down where antibiotics are used.  I (really, really) encourage you to take the time to read this article through as it talks about the number of head of animals compared to people.  The article also discusses the dosage of antibiotics based on weight.

This is your opportunity to build trust with your consumer-customers.

Post Tags:

Add Comment
  1. Anonymous says:

    OrGANIC?? lmao!!! Why don't YOU GROW (not BUY) organic yourself and we'll see how long you stay organic.. I give you 2 years AT BEST. True organic is a labor intensive train wreck. It's why most "organic" is grown OVERSEAS like in turkey. And the american organic.. *shaking head* if you only knew how much they sprayed and raised those. They are sprayed 1/3 more than conventional because they aren't as potent (remember to be organic it just has to be found naturally occuring).. I love my garden but i'm practical too.. I DARE the organic people to raise some broccoli to prove my point.. And sure it can be done but it becomes so burdensome and costly it just becomes cost prohibitive for the 99% to afford. Maybe you are the 1% and can pay.. Good luck to you.. TW

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hogwash, Buy Organic!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I'll address the crates. Let's do some business math 101. Do you think farmers WANT to have crates or cages? They are expensive to purchase and something else to maintain. From broken parts and broken welds to just the plain washing and sanitizing them. It would be great if we could put a bunch of animals togethor and they would A: get along and B: be careful. Pigs and Chickens are omnivores (meaning eat meat and plants) and they will peck and fight with each other until: one is either severely injured or dead. Chickens will peck at each other until they draw blood and once blood is there they will continue to peck and eat that blood until either the bleeding chicken is so injured usually infection comes in and they die but it's a horrible way to watch something kill another (and it's not only one aggressive one). Hence the chicken cages. It's for the chickens PROTECTION.. Don't you think we'd rather just build a little 3 or 4 foot house for them and just let them run around.. cheaper and easier for the farmer. But with cages they are safe from each other and aren't stressed by being chased around the barn. Less stressed birds mean they are eating more and therefore growing and laying faster. HENCE again the cages. Think about it. Why WOULD we want them in cages.. It's added cost for us!! but unfortunately it's necessary. PIGS can be extremely agressive and with an animal capable of reaching 800 pounds there is nothing that can be done about the fighting. But the primary reason for the Gestation crates is hogs own protection from again other sows and when they have the little and moved to a farrowing crate it also becomes a piglet safety issue. Sows don't Lay down.. they PLOP.. it's funny actually.. But anyway imagine your a 15 pound piglet and wanting fed and mom comes over and PLOP and your under her.. Guess what happens.. Cages for the farmers and ranchers are all about Animal safety and yeah we've added convenience into it.. AS FAR as anti-biotics.. It's called GUESSING .. Those animals can't tell us when they are sick so we have to take lots of precautions to make sure they don't get sick in the first place.. A GREAT vaccination program and that extra boost of anti-biotics to help them beat the bugs when they get them. Everything gets sick (regardless of how they are raised) but they can't tell us when they are so instead of one getting sick and possibly infecting others we try to stop it before it starts. Again they are not cheap and if we knew of a better way to keep them healthy with a strong immune system that didn't use anti-biotics we'd switch overnight to it. Lastly, don't be a hypocrit either.. Did you get your flu shot, use anti-bacterial soap, use bleach when washing cloths and your countertops, get your vaccinations? Why would you want my animals not to have the same precautions taken? It's strange to me. I'm just taking care of my animals so I don't have to see sick, hurt, injured, dying or dead animals. That breaks my heart!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Please address sow crates and chicken cages as part of the warm and fuzzy farm scene.

  5. Anonymous says:

    There are several fallacies in the comment above and needs to be addressed. First of all livestock is not given antibiotics every day. And I for one am glad pigs are inside where it's warm and dry compared to the below freezing temperatures we have here in Iowa this morning. The clean, warm, dry building with carefully monitored feed and water is much more comfortable for my animals. Barb Determan

  6. Anonymous says:

    Daily antibiotic use in livestock is the result of unheathy and unnatural confinement of animals. Give the animals some room and they will be heathy, this is the kind of food people want. The savage conditions of confinement operations is cruelty to animals at the least.