Antibiotics In Organic And Conventional Production

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What is an Antibiotic?
Any of a large group of chemical substances, as penicillin or streptomycin, produced by various microorganisms and fungi, having the capacity in dilute solutions to inhibit the growth of or to destroy bacteria and other microorganisms, used chiefly in the treatment of infectious diseases.

Antibiotic free” – meaning without antibiotics – get sick, they may be treated with antibiotics. These animals are separated from the non-antibiotic group, treated and later marketed as conventional meat after proper withdrawal times are met. Not treating a sick animal with antibiotics that can cure an illness would be inhumane and could lead to the animal’s death.

Antibiotics are only one tool in farmers’ and ranchers’ overall animal care strategy, which also includes proper housing, good nutrition and personal attention. It’s important to note that antibiotics are only one tool farmers use along with vaccines, appropriate housing, good ventilation, proper nutrition and biosecurity measures.

According to the USDA, The term “no antibiotics added” may be used on labels for meat or poultry products if sufficient documentation is provided by the producer to the Agency demonstrating that the animals were raised without antibiotics.

When antibiotics are used, it’s also important to remember that farmers and ranchers follow specific withdrawal periods to ensure animals are free of any antibiotics before entering the food system.

   Antibiotics In Organic And Conventional Production

Chris Chinn says, “We are required to log all antibiotic use on our farm

The food-producing animal and poultry industries have undergone a dramatic change that began around 1950. What was an extensive industry became extremely intensive: units increased in animal concentration, both physically and numerically. Utilization of the beneficial responses of feed-additive antibiotics in improved growth and feed efficiency developed concurrently with the intensification of the animal industry. It has been proposed that feed-additive antibiotic usage was an integral part of this revolution in animal-production technology. It is estimated, at present, that 40 percent of the antibiotics produced are used for feed additives. Estimates allocate 0.5 million kg to the cattle industry, 1.0 million kg to poultry, 1.4 million kg to swine, and 0.4 million kg to other animals such as companion animals.

The animal producer can obtain antibiotics in the form of balanced supplements and premixes that are processed and sold by the feed-manufacturing industry. The producer also has access to and can purchase antibiotic products from farm and veterinary supply centers. Administration of antibiotics in the drinking water is becoming increasingly important in both poultry and swine production.

Feedlot systems for beef cattle and sheep would not change if low-level antibiotic feedings were not permitted, but it is likely that disease problems and therapeutic use of antibiotics would increase.

According to the NRDC's analysis of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data on veterinary antibiotic sales, 42% of all medically important antibiotics sold for use in US livestock operations are for cattle, roughly the amount sold for chicken and pork production combined. The top two antibiotics used in cattle — tetracyclines and macrolides — are mainly given to cattle herds via their feed and drinking water.

Using a metric developed by the European Medicines Agency to compare antibiotic use in food-producing animals across animal populations in different countries, the report shows that US cattle producers used 162 milligrams (mg) of antibiotic per kilogram (kg) of livestock, compared with 50 mg/kg in the Netherlands, 41 mg/kg in France, 32 mg/kg in Denmark, and 27 mg/kg in the United Kingdom. These countries have all instituted policies aimed at limiting antibiotic use in livestock.

Much of this antibiotic use occurs on large feedlots, where calves are shipped after weaning and fattened to market weight over a span of 6 to 9 months. Of the 33 million cattle slaughtered in the United States in 2018, 25 million were partially fattened on feedlots. The report says the conditions on these feedlots, including large herds, crowding, and a diet that is 70% to 90% grains, help contribute to liver abscesses. Another common disease in cattle, bovine respiratory disease or "shipping fever," is linked to the stress of moving calves to feedlots and mixing them with cattle from many different places.

What is a Farm?
A farm is an area of land that is devoted primarily to agricultural processes with the primary objective of producing food and other crops; it is the basic facility in food production. The name is used for specialized units such as arable farms, vegetable farms, fruit farms, dairy, pig and poultry farms, and land used for the production of natural fibers, biofuel and other commodities. It includes ranches, feedlots, orchards, plantations and estates, smallholdings and hobby farms, and includes the farmhouse and agricultural buildings as well as the land.

Our Farm-This means if we use an antibiotic on a pig or a sow, we have to record the date, medication given, dose and withdrawal length. We are audited by the plant that purchases our hogs, and they inspect these records a couple times a year. They also review my feed records to see what we feed our hogs. They want to make sure they are purchasing a healthy hog from me.”