Fear Not, It’s Antibiotic FreeOctober 7, 2019
A common concern regarding conventionally raised livestock is antibiotics. We all know that antibiotics have been over-used in our own health care settings and there is a fear that our meat and dairy are passing it on to us. I recently had the opportunity to visit two different cattle farms in downstate Illinois, one specializing in dairy and the other in beef. I thought that I would pass my new-found knowledge on to you.
Both conventional and organic farmers have been hearing the public’s concern over antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides/herbicides; and have adjusted their practices accordingly. Not only do they want to please the population, they also need to think of their own finances. Antibiotics for a cow is expensive; if it costs 20 dollars (without insurance) for a 10-day regimen for an average 150-pound adult, imagine the cost for a two-ton cow. The cost alone prevents farmers from wanting to haphazardly provide antibiotics to their livestock for prevention. When an animal becomes ill, the cost associated with treating them takes a huge chunk of profit when they are sold for slaughter.
Additionally, beef and dairy are monitored by health inspectors regularly, when a health inspector finds antibiotic residue in any product, it is discarded and the farmers are fined. This is considered a first offense; if they have a second offense then no one wants to purchase from them in the future. It’s painful to see a 2,700-gallon tank of milk go down the drain due to one cow.
When animals are given antibiotics, farmers take precautions to ensure that no antibiotics get through into the food supply. Farmers will generally wait one and a half times the recommended time frame to allow all medications to clear from the livestock’s system, just in case the kidneys are sluggish and can’t process it as fast as anticipated. Dairy farmers still need to milk the cows; therefor they will milk the cow into a separate container, preventing it from getting it into the mix.
There comes a time when all animals are more susceptible to illness (separation from heard, seasonal, etc.); this is when the conventional farmers are taking preventative measures. Just like the probiotic you take for regularity or to your canine companion when he is on antibiotics; it’s the same principle for the cattle. A well-nourished GI tract is a barrier to external offenders and can prevent illness.
Rest assured, all of your meat and dairy is free from antibiotics, regardless of marketing tactics.