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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Why We Use Antibiotics on Our Farm

I've wrote about this subject before but I thought I would revisit it because I know antibiotics are a concern for consumers. Also, I feel the media doesn't quite give the whole story and instead tell us no antibiotic use in livestock is best. However, being a farmer I also know that antibiotics (also know as antimicrobials) can heal sick or hurting animals. Healthy cattle make healthy beef that my family and your family can enjoy.

This time, on our farm, the cow needing antibiotics was one of the Boy's favorite cows named Fantasy. About a week ago we notice that she had a serve limp and her foot was very swollen. Poor girl! This is one of the signs of foot rot. It is a very treatable aliment with an antimicrobial, and so Fantasy received a shot.

We work very closely with our vet for recommendations on the correct antibiotics to give to our cattle depending on the symptoms, and we always follow the dosing instruction on the bottle for the amount that should be given. In addition each antibiotic has a withdrawal time. This means that the animal can not be slaughtered and enter the food chain until the withdrawal period is over. As well, the United States government mandates that no beef with antibiotic residues that exceed FDA standards be allowed in the food supply; therefore, all beef sold in the United States is safe from antibiotics. 

We treated Fantasy, and then headed out to the Iowa State Fair the next day to exhibit our livestock. When we got home we noticed that Fantasy had not gotten any better. This time we decided to run her into the cattle chute for further examination, and we were very surprised to see what we found. 

Yes, that is a rock that was wedged up between her toes. Can you image how sore your foot and leg would be if you walked around with a rock in your shoes for several days? We were able to remove the rock, but the area was very infected. Following our veterinarians advice, Fantasy received another shot of an antibiotic. As soon as she got out of the chute she instantly was able to put weight back on her foot. There is no better feeling than knowing that you helped an animal when they are in pain. The antibiotic will also help the sore heal so further problems don't arise. 

Now some of you may say that our misdiagnoses required us to use more antibiotics than necessary. I guess I view it something like this. Recently, I had a serve bladder infection. I went to the doctor and they have me an antibiotic. I thought I got better, but the next week I was back in the doctor's office. The antibiotic they had given me didn't work and they had to switch things up. Sometimes similar situations happen with our cattle. 


The Boy getting the antibiotics ready for Fantasy. We use antibiotics on our farm to help our cattle get healthy again. I would never want to leave one of our cows in pain when I know that an antibiotic could help them. 

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