Wise County Messenger

Antibiotic usage in meat production



MORE TO MEAT PRODUCTION — Ranchers have chosen to use antibiotics to protect and treat their herds for years but consumer criticism presents obstacles. Understanding labels and properly administrating medication could help the issue. PHOTO BY ETIENNE GIRARDET ON UNSPLASH

MORE TO MEAT PRODUCTION — Ranchers have chosen to use antibiotics to protect and treat their herds for years but consumer criticism presents obstacles. Understanding labels and properly administrating medication could help the issue. PHOTO BY ETIENNE GIRARDET ON UNSPLASH

Over the last several years, consumers have become increasingly more concerned about where the meat they eat comes from and how it is produced. At the same time, ranchers have fought to maintain the rate of their production under new criticism. People want inexpensive food with labels that make them feel good about what they’re eating like ‘Antibiotic-free.’

Ranchers have used antibiotics to treat livestock for decades but now more consumers believe that they face the threat of antibiotic resistance by consuming products from these animals.

Similar to humans, livestock experience illnesses that antibiotics can treat more quickly and effectively. However, the frequency of use and administration of antibiotics presents a reasonable concern.

According to the North American Meat Institute, antibiotic resistance is most likely to happen in situations where bacteria is challenged but not completely knocked out. Conditions for this to take place drastically increase when antibiotics are not given in their entirety or are not given in the proper amount of time.

NEAL

NEAL

The question of trust between the consumer and producer is heightened when consumers do not know if ranchers and veterinarians are properly giving these antibiotics to herds.

However, ranchers know the regulations placed by the Food and Drug Administration and they know they have to follow these rules in order to sell their products.

The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System is a program operated by the FDA, CDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure that regulations are met and retail meat products are safe for consumption.

The livestock that ranchers raise are not only their source of income but also their livelihood. Caring for them is their top priority and preventing massive outbreaks of infection is vital to accomplishing that mission.

With thousands of dollars invested into their animals, ranchers are motivated to follow CDC recommendations such as closely communicating with veterinarians about when antibiotic treatment is necessary.

Additionally, all federally approved antibiotics have a withdrawal period. The withdrawal period is the time between the last treatment and when the animal is slaughtered. These periods allow for antibiotic residue to pass through the animal before it becomes a meat product available to consumers.

Ranchers need to follow withdrawal periods to have an economically viable product because the U.S. National Residue Program tests meat products for antibiotic residue.

Producers and veterinarians question alternative methods to antibiotic treatment. Refusing to administer these medications can lead to ethical dilemmas. Oftentimes, antibiotics are the most effective way of helping an animal regain their health.

Allowing disease to continue and hoping that the animal recovers can lead to the animal’s death. Livestock lost to illnesses that could be treated hinders a successful operation.

In reality, consumers want healthy food options and producers want to maintain the health of their livestock. It is the responsibility of ranchers to make sure they are stewarding medication to their herds appropriately in order to protect future production.

Simultaneously, consumers have to look for credible information about how their food is made.

Upcoming events

Watering Lawns and Trees Program — Wise County AgriLife Extension will hold a free program outlining proper watering measures for lawns and trees 6 to 7 p.m. June 2. The event will be held at the Wise County Fairgrounds Women’s Building. Call the Extension office at 940-627-3341 to register.

Wise County Cow Calf Producer Clinic — Learn how to establish a calving season, the pros and cons of artificial insemination and how to keep your cattle healthy at this event put on by Wise County AgriLife Extension. The clinic will take place 8 a.m. to noon June 14. The cost of registration is $20 and breakfast will be provided. You can pay registration cost at the Extension office or at the door.

Rainwater Harvesting System Grand Opening — The Wise County AgriLife Extension office in collaboration with the Upper Trinity Water Conservation District and Wise County will host a rainwater harvesting program after the grand opening of the new system 6 to 8 p.m. June 21. The program will be held at the Wise County Fairgrounds and will offer education about water usage and conservation.

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