Saturday, April 2, 2011

Antibiotic Use in Livestock

Andrew Sullivan highlights antibiotic resistant bacteria in livestock, and reports on Danish experience after banning regular low-dose antibiotic use in livestock:
Denmark quit giving antibiotics to their pigs, poultry and other livestock. Scientific American argues their example "has shown that it is possible to protect human health without hurting farmers":
Although the transition unfolded smoothly in the poultry industry, the average weight of pigs fell in the first year. But after Danish farmers started leaving sows and piglets together a few weeks longer to bolster the littermates’ immune systems naturally, the animals’ weights jumped back up, and the number of pigs per litter increased as well. The lesson is that improving animal husbandry—making sure that pens, stalls and cages are properly cleaned and giving animals more room or time to mature—offsets the initial negative impact of limiting antibiotic use. Today Danish industry reports that productivity is higher than before.
I am uncomfortable with regular antibiotic use in livestock operations.  It kind of falls in with using Roundup corn and soybeans as a foolish way to be a little lazy.

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