Wednesday, February 10, 2010

We're not on drugs

Katie Couric's reports on CBS this week have given people some inaccurate ideas about the use of antibiotics on farms and ranches. 

If you aren't familiar with raising livestock, and watched her reports you may think that farmers and ranchers are feeding their animals antibiotics as part of every meal and injecting them with antibiotics every day.  That's not the case on our ranch. 

Currently none of our animals are on antibiotics.  We can't remember the last time we had to administer antibiotics for an illness.  We think it may have been a year and a half ago.  We do use antibiotics they are prescribed by our veterinarian.

Antibiotics are expensive. They are not something we gleefully give or over-use in our operation.  We're a small operation, but it's true that even large operations use them judiciously. 
We do vaccinate our calves on our place. These vaccinations are given when the calves are small, just like you immunize your children against a variety of diseases. Our calves are vaccinated for:
  • Blackleg which causes swelling in the legs, neck, and back and results in death.
  • Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheits is also called Red-nose. It is an acute contagious viral disease and is the main cause of Shipping Fever. This results in runny nose, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
  • Bovine Virus Diarrhea is an infection causing numerous problems such as damage to the digestive and immune systems, pneumonia, the inability to move and diarrhea.
The cows and bulls are vaccinated once a year for:
  • Lepto which results in abortions.
  • Vibrio which is an infectious bacteria resulting in infertility. It is considered an venereal disease.
All cattle are given a wormer--just like your pets need--for control of parasites in the liver and the stomachs which will cause weight loss and disrupt proper digestion.

Without vaccines and antibiotics we can't ensure the health of our herd or those of our neighbors.  The CBS report kept talking about antibiotics being used to make animals grow faster, but the language they used was a little misleading.  Antibiotics don't promote growth.  Sick animals don't grow.  They must be well to grow. 

Consumers should be assured that numerous precautions are in place to keep drugs from entering the food supply. Farmers and ranchers are aware of the time it takes for an antibiotic to leave an animals system.  And all drugs have gone through rigorous testing before they are allowed for use in food animals. 

We know of farms that use antibiotics therapeutically. We don't want to speak for larger operations, but have seen a variety of research that shows that the use of antibiotics in those operations reduces illness and prevents death.  So we believe it to be a sound process for insuring animal well-being.

1 comment:

  1. What I fail to understand is how America can import beef from Canada and Mexico where they don’t restrict antibiotics to the standards that we do here. We continue to import beef that does not meet our own quality standards hurting every American rancher. I know that these issues had to come up in Katie Couric’s research for this piece.

    If we are to continue to import beef lets at least have it marked to the packages at the stores or restaurants, so the American consumer can make the choice for themselves where they want their food to come from. Price American beef $0.40 higher to pass on to the rancher, I truly believe the American consumer will make the right choice. How many people would pay an extra $0.40 more a hamburger grown in the USA? Well not all, but most would.