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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Antibiotics and meat

We use antibiotics on our farm. 

The Boy and I are slowly moving in the freeze beef business. What does that mean? It means that you will be able to buy beef directly from our farm.

As we have been talking with our partners the question has came up if we can market our beef as antibiotic free. The answer really we can't. When an animal gets sick on our farm we consult with our veterinarian and they either comes to our farm to administer medicine or he tells us what we should give the the sick animal. Just like when you have a sick family member and you go to the doctor or consult with a medical professional. So some of the animals on our farm at some point may have been given antibiotics.

This video talks about antibiotics and the other regulations that we have to follow on our farm.



Are you comfortable buying meat from an animal that at some point was given antibiotics?

13 comments:

  1. I think the difference between what you do and what most people think they are uncomfortable with is that the 'conglomerates' seem to antibiotics and other things willy nilly (kind of like the people doctors and now they are finding resistant strains of some things).

    I would not have a problem eating meat from an animal that had been given antibiotics only as necessary, as long as the medicine hopefully does not stay in the meat as it goes to the consumer.

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    1. I left out a 'use' up there. haha. Oh well.

      Have a great day!

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    2. Linda, thanks for your comment. We always use record keeping to make sure that the withdrawal time has passed before that animal goes into the food chain.

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  2. We sell most of our cattle as antibiotic and hormone free. However, when one gets sick and we do have to give it a shot, then that one is identified and sold separately. Individual buyers don't seem to have a problem with it as much if they buy directly from us, but the big buyers seem to prefer antibiotic free and for us, we find that we can get a premium that way.

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    1. I think it is great that your family has found a way to generate more dollars for your farm, while giving the consumer another option on the kind of meat they buy.

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  3. Just like in humans, antibiotics stay in the system for a certain amount of days, and then they are out. We usually have to treat our calves when we get them; we run a feeder operation, so they come in just weaned and weighing around 500 pounds or so. If someone is sick, he/she is treated per the vet's orders. Usually this is the one and only time a cow is treated. After that our cows stay very healthy, and by the time they are sold several months have passed, like November to September. The antibiotics have long passed from the cow's system, and they are very safe to eat. I would rather eat a steak from a healthy cow than a sick one!

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    1. Awesome comment, and I couldn't agree more. I'll stick with healthy animals.

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  4. Personally, I do not see an issue with anti-biotics. Here in the UK, it is perfectly normal in the farming industry, and it certainly should not dissuade someone from buying the meat. Rather have anti-biotics then a sick animal, plus these drugs ultimately do leave the system before too long anyway.
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  5. My sister sells freezer beef directly to consumers and she only sells the animals that have not been given antibiotics. Those that have gotten sick and needed antibiotics are eaten by our family or sold to another farm (she runs a cow/calf operation also).

    I feel comfortable eating meat that has been given antibiotics but that is because I know much more about our food supply than the average consumer. I know that antibiotics are given only to sick animals and that they are not given in excess. I trust the farmers and rancher that supply food for us while most people don't know enough to trust them.

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  6. I always thought that when people worried about antibiotic use in beef and other livestock, they were talking about some kind of systematic, regular administration of antibiotics to the animals whether they were sick or not, as some kind of prevention thing. That bothers me, but I can definitely understand why you would give a sick cow some antibiotic in an isolated instance.

    Interesting post and blog. Wow, you have a ton of goals on your list!

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  7. Great Job Crystal!! We don't sell freezer beef, but the idea has crossed my mind a time or two to do it. We too use antibiotics on our cattle only when they are sick and only when it's needed. We make sure they don't go to town until well after it has made it through their system. We have no problem eating beef that was treated with antibiotics and in fact if we have a calf that was kinda sickly and was treated more than the rest of the calves that is usualy the one that goes into the fattening pen and will end up on our table. Always consulting a vet and have the withdrawl period are a must and we, as you guys do, want to sell the consumer a good healthy product!

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  8. I had this discussion with a friend of mine who is a nurse. She was also raised on a large beef cattle operation in Souther Oregon. She made the comment well we need to monitor that administration of antibiotics to livestock, I responded back we are (as producers), but why are we consuming antibiotics as humans for everything?

    I have antibiotic allergies, I have had them since I was a baby. Why? I have no idea. Common sense says go to bed, get well that way. I don't run to the doctor for every cold demanding antibiotics, I wait and truly monitor the severity of my symptoms.

    Personally, I wait to treat any animal until its to the point that a preventive measure has to be taken, or that animal has become ill to fast for me to monitor it and antibiotics must be administered immediately. Again, common sense, for every dosage I give to animal is a cost, and raising livestock is a business. I want every animal to be healthy, but I am not going to administer antibiotic unless I have too.

    So my question is--it's easy to point fingers at livestock, but should we really be looking at the human usage levels of antibiotic use as culprit of antibiotic resistance?

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  9. I think in the mind of the consumer antibiotic use, resistance and residues are all mixed up together. The low level usage of some antibiotics in feedlots is a preventative measure to hopefully stave off the treatment of a more serious illness later, and has the side benefit of improving growth and efficiency. In terms of antibiotic resistance, there is tons of research out there showing that cattle are NOT contributing to antibiotic resistance rates in the classes of drugs most important to human medicine. In fact, when the UK banned sub-therapeutic antibiotic use, antibiotic resistance in drug classes critical for human treatments actually increased in at least 2 countries, because more of those types of drugs had to be used to cure serious infections. There's some other interesting research that has shown increased antibiotic resistance in humans due to the antibiotics given their pets as well - not to mention improper human usage (only taking partial dosages, asking for antibiotics for a cold or other viral infection, etc.).

    I think most people are pretty okay with treating a sick animal, as long as withdrawal times are followed. By following proper procedures, there are NO antibiotic residues present in meat when it is eaten. But they are wary of the sub-therapeutic use, which is often seen by people unfamiliar with the industry and research as unnecessary.

    Regulations (withdrawal times) make sure any antibiotics given, either sub-therapeuticically or for targeted treatment are not present in the meat we eat (residues). Antibiotic resistance is another issue entirely, with a host of factors contributing, some of which is animal agriculture - but thankfully not in the drugs used to treat serious human illnesses.

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