Antibiotics: Doctoring Food Animals

Giving antibiotics to food animals is a hotly debated topic.  I’ve spent a fair share of time giving vaccinations and doctoring sick calves on our ranch and others.  I would like to tell you first hand that people producing animals for food are not just administering drugs to animals all willy-nilly!  Food animal production is a careful science and to many farming families it is their income and purpose in life.  Raising animals is often a rewarding experience and lifestyle but it is also hard work and it takes a special breed of person to do it!

The FDA and other regulatory bodies regulate the types and amounts of drugs that can be administered to animals.  There are even more stringent regulations and withdrawal periods for livestock raised for meat and milk production.

Treating sick animals is expensive!  No rancher wants a calf to get sick because it directly effects their productivity and bottom line.  Ranchers also have compassion and don’t want the animal to suffer. When an animal is sick it is not gaining weight and developing like its contemporary group.  Just like humans, when animal disease and sickness is not treated, it spreads.  The vaccinations given to animals throughout their lives are to help them, not harm them.

Generally, calves raised in the beef industry are treated with antibiotics when they get sick.  The antibiotics and other medications have specific withdrawal times.  See the Beef Magazine article below for more information about withdrawal times.  An animal cannot be harvested until the applicable withdrawal time has passed.  The FDA and USDA have done many studies on withdrawal times and the length of time antibiotics stay in the animal’s system.  They also consistently do testing in harvest facilities to make sure producers are following the rules and keeping our food safe.

My main point is that it is good to know where your food comes from and monitor it’s safety, but stay informed and don’t believe the scare tactics put forth by activists groups.  The American food system is safe and highly regulated.  Farmers and ranchers struggle every day to meet the strictest regulations and put a safe product in your grocery store.  Be thankful you have high quality, safe food!

“According to the CDC, the most urgent threats are posed by antibiotic-resistant infections that have emerged in hospitals, as a result of heavy antibiotic use there.”

Repost from The Salt

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/09/16/223109560/cdc-deadliest-drug-resistance-comes-from-hospitals-not-farms

Beef Magazine – Understanding Animal Drug Withdrawal Times

http://beefmagazine.com/blog/guide-understanding-animal-drug-withdrawal-times

Furry Friday: Gus Gus & Boots

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We adopted Gus Gus (kitten) to keep Boots (cat) company. They have gotten very spoiled and are now used to our move. We hope to relocate them to our new barn soon! Until then, they just hang out and listen to law school lectures, play inside and attack my feet from underneath the bed. Darn cats!

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Hump Day

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Whenever I see the camel in the Geico hump day commercial I think of my llama. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWBhP0EQ1lA)

Yes I have a llama…who doesn’t? By the way, this is my first non-food blog.  I’m hoping to share a little bit about the rural lifestyle and my quirky personality in this one.

How I ended up with a llama
Let me start by giving a brief background on my dear llama, Kuzco.  I was a member in the Future Farmers of America (FFA) in high school and bought a few goats to raise.  Shortly thereafter I bought Kuzco to guard my goats. Llamas are excellent guard animals and have been used to guard livestock in North America since the early 1980’s. They protect sheep, goats and other small animals from predators like coyotes. Coyotes are a great threat to livestock, especially during and shortly after birth when the animals are most vulnerable.  Baby animals are easy targets for packs of coyotes.  Having a guard llama is a viable, nonlethal alternative for reducing predation, requiring no training and little care.

Fast forward a few years… I sold the goats, but Kuzco had no desire to leave our property! It was impossible to get him loaded into the trailer without either sedating him or having him hurt himself.  I had even found him a couple of new homes where he could guard goats and sheep, but he just didn’t want to leave.  Eventually I talked my parents into keeping him with a speech along the lines of “he doesn’t eat much and isn’t hurting anything”.

Llama kitty love
While I was away at college my mom adopted a large cat named Tucker. Tucker was previously a house cat but decided he liked to be free and live outside in the barn. One weekend I came home to visit and noticed Kuzco and Tucker were hanging out together in the field by the barn.  My mom explained that they had struck up a relationship and were inseparable. Mind you, they are the only animals in this field.  I guess Kuzco was happy to have something to guard.

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Llamas are magestic creatures!

I think llamas are quite fascinating and worth their weight in entertainment value.  The other day my husband, Cory, witnessed Kuzco’s many odd behaviors (not odd for a llama).  Llamas take dirt baths to stay clean.  This seems counter-productive, but it keeps Kuzco’s wool healthy and fluffy.  They are remarkably clean animals.  Another strange behavior is dung-piling.  Llamas mark their territory with dung piles and only defecate and urinate in their designated piles.

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A few more fun facts about llamas
Like horses, neutered males are called geldings. Their average lifespan is 17-23 years. A baby llama is called a cria (from Spanish for “baby”). Adult male llamas weigh 300-400 lbs and stand about 6 feet tall. Like a cattle, llamas have more than one stomach compartment. Cows are ruminants and have four compartments. Llamas are incomplete ruminants with only three compartments. They do not spit unless they are mishandled or stressed out.

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Until next time, save the drama for your llama!