Category Archives: Antibiotics, hormones, and other growth promotants…

Antibiotics…

granddaddyhunting2

We shared a love and respect for animals and the outdoors…

My family traveled to Florida last week to celebrate my dad’s life at a beautiful Memorial Service.  As I stood in the airport waiting to board the first plane of the journey, I fielded a phone call from a Wall Street Journal reporter.

The FDA had announced earlier that morning that it intended to issue Guidance Document 213 to the Federal Registrar.  This action renewed media interest in the topic of antibiotic use in food animals.  Guidance 213 and its accompanying Feed Veterinary Directive implement the FDA’s policy of judicious antimicrobial use in food producing animals by two mechanisms:

  1. An extension of veterinary oversight in the care of food animals.
  2. The elimination of the sub-therapeutic use of medically important antibiotics in food animals.DSC04922

Guidance 213 establishes a three-year timeframe for accomplishing these two important goals.  In a nutshell, it creates a documented paper trail for veterinary oversight of all antibiotics (eliminating all Over The Counter usage) while at the same time completely phasing out the use of antibiotics that are important to human medicine for growth promotion purposes.

The first question that the reporter asked me was,

“Anne, how will Guidance 213 affect your farm?”

The short answer to this question is “not much”.  I followed this up with a more detailed response… Because, as my girls are quick to remind me, I enjoy pontificating on topics that I am passionate about!

Administering a prescription antibiotic to a sick calf...

Administering a prescription antibiotic to a sick calf…

  1.  My veterinarian plays a key role in every animal health issue that I have at the feed yard.  He is on site at least once a month and we remain in contact via telephone or email in between those visits.  There is already close veterinarian oversight on my farm.  As such, the only change that Guidance 213 brings to me is that my vet will have additional paperwork to fill out certifying this oversight.
  2. I do not use medically important antibiotics for growth promotion purposes.  I only use those antibiotics for the control/treatment/prevention of disease; therefore, there will be no changes relative to mechanism #2.

    Giving vaccinations to newly arrived animals which keep them healthy and reduces the amount  of antibiotics that I use on my farm...

    Giving vaccinations to newly arrived animals which keep them healthy and reduces the amount of antibiotics that I use on my farm…

Those of you that have followed Feed Yard Foodie for a long time will perhaps remember a detailed series of FYF posts relative to antibiotic use.  I wrote this series when my youngest daughter was hospitalized with a virulent strain of pneumonia two years ago.  This issue is one that is near and dear to my heart.

Keeping all of them healthy is my daily focus...

Keeping all of them healthy is my daily focus…

I invite all of you to reread these posts, and ask any questions that you might have relative to the issue.

https://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/the-responsible-user-of-antibiotics/

https://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/the-conversationalist-take-2-bovine-respiratory-antibiotic-use-relative-to-human-antibiotic-resistance/

https://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/the-misunderstood/

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Checking Cattle…

Including myself, I have a crew of four that cares for our cattle at the feed yard.  My foreman is in charge of our feeding program as well as being an awesome resource for just about anything else that goes on at the feed yard.  In addition to him, I have a cowboy who is in charge of daily cattle health and also another hired man (Jared) who fixes equipment, helps to feed cattle, is in charge of home pen cleaning as well as filling in wherever necessary in terms of cattle care and chores.

Riding in the feed truck with my foreman, Doug, is a special time for her.  She learns "hands on" problem solving and focus while also having a great time...

My foreman, Doug, in a feed truck with my youngest daughter Karyn.

Throughout my professional life, one of my greatest blessings has been the dedication of my crew.  Day in and day out they give of themselves in order to offer high quality animal care.  Their loyalty and hard work is nothing short of amazing, and I am immensely proud of all of them.

Two weeks out of every year, my cowboy goes on vacation.  When he is gone, I try to fill in Checking CattleChecking Cattle is another term for Riding Pens,
and it consists of looking individually at every animal in the feed yard to make sure that they have optimal health.  I view this job as absolutely critical as I care for cattle and raise beef.

Studly and I, Checkin Cattle...

Studly and I, Checking Cattle…

Studly is my partner when I am Checking Cattle as I think that I can do a better job evaluating the health of my animals on the back of a horse.  This likely stems from the fact that I am height challenged, so being on top of a horse gives me a better view point from which to see my animals.

We do not have a large number of animals get sick at the feed yard, but it is important to me that I offer the appropriate care when one of them becomes compromised by illness.  When I am checking cattle, I look for any type of bovine behavior that does not appear normal.  Because I look at my animals everyday, I have a good mental picture of what normal looks like.  When I notice something abnormal, then I need to more closely assess the animal.

Can you tell which two of these four animals are sick?

Can you tell which two of these four animals are sick?

If I determine that an animal needs individual sick treatment, I take him out of the home pen and down to our main corral area.  There, I can place him in our squeeze chute which immobilizes the animal so that I can get a temperature reading and give a shot of antibiotics if I believe it is necessary.

I work with my veterinarian to create animal health protocols which include a plan of what to do when an animal gets sick.  The symptoms displayed by the animal determine the treatment that he is given.

Jared, treating one of those sick animals with a carefully chosen antibiotic to help him to recover his good health...

Jared, treating one of those sick animals with a carefully chosen antibiotic while he is immobilized in our squeeze chute…

After treatment, the animal is then either placed in one of our hospital pens or taken back to the home pen.  The caregiver makes a judgement call depending on the health of the animal which location is most beneficial.  If the animal spends some time in the hospital pen recovering, then he will be placed back in the home pen after he has once again attained optimal health.

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Taking the time to care–that’s always my goal, and it goes along with a promise to provide you and your families with wholesome and delicious beef!

Our daily check of cattle health is one of the most important things that we do at the feed yard.  I truly enjoy the two weeks out of the year when it is my primary responsibility.  I am also very thankful to Jared for his assistance with this chore!

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The Practical Application of Math…

I’ll never forget the day in 3rd grade that my oldest daughter announced that she did not understand why she had to learn math because it was not anything that she would ever use in real life…

She is now in 7th grade and learning pre-algebra...

She is now in 7th grade and learning pre-algebra…

Ever since that moment, I have made it my mission to constantly point out to my girls the use of math in daily life.  Perhaps that is why they are all such good chefs (what better way to learn to use fractions!).

One of the girls' favorites are sliced home grown tomatoes with a touch of butter and Parmesan cheese...

One of the girls’ favorites are sliced home grown tomatoes with a touch of butter and Parmesan cheese…

I am surrounded by math at the feed yard.  From reading bunks and figuring out pounds of feed—to estimating cattle weights—to deciding how many trucks I need to transport my animals—to determining the proper withdrawal times for the animal health products that I use on my cattle.  Math is everywhere and I have to remember not to gloat every time that I proudly show my girls another practical use for it!

I know that I have been successful when they start to point it out to me!

I know that I have been successful when they start to point it out to me!

I use several different animal health products at the feed yard.  By animal health products, I mean both preventative care products (like vaccines) and treatment medications (like antibiotics) for sick animals. The last two core topics for Beef Quality Assurance are Injection Site Management, and Feed Additives and Medications.

These two BQA components exist because my cattle are food animals, and their meat will be used to nourish my family and yours.  As I use animal health products, I must always remember to protect the safety of the food that my animals make.

Here I am giving an injection in the neck of a calf just underneath the skin...

Here I am giving an injection in the neck of a calf just underneath the skin…

Almost all animal health products have withdrawal periods—this is the number of days that must pass before a treated animal can be shipped to harvest.  The withdrawal period insures that there are no residues of any animal health products in the meat that you purchase at the grocery store.

Here I am filling a syringe to treat a sick calf that I found Sunday morning.  I weigh the animal so that I can figure an accurate and appropriate dose.  I also take the temperature of the animal to help me with my diagnosis.

Here I am filling a syringe to treat a sick calf that I found last Sunday morning in Pen 15. I weigh the animal so that I can figure an accurate and appropriate dose. I also take the temperature of the animal to help me with my diagnosis.

It is illegal for me to send a bovine to harvest who has not passed the proper withdrawal time following a treatment (like the one that I administered in the picture above).  Every single time that we give an animal health product to a calf, we write down the animal’s identification number, the product that was given to him, and then figure the date that the animal has cleared withdrawal and is eligible for harvest.

Megan was my helper last weekend.  Here she is writing down the identification numbers of the animal, its temperature, what I treated him with, and then the date that the animal will clear withdrawal...

Megan was my helper last weekend. Here she is writing down the identification numbers of the animal, its temperature, the antibiotic that I treated him with, and then the date that the animal will clear withdrawal…

There is an effective system in place to ensure that beef that you purchase is residue free!  FDA (federal drug administration )mandates it, BQA ensures it, cattle veterinarians and caregivers take many steps every day to make it a reality!DSC03959

So, how often do my cattle receive injections (shots)?   As a part of my protocol to ensure good health, every animal in my feed yard receives at least two vaccinations (given to prevent common bovine illnesses—think of them as the bovine equivalent of the Flu Shot), and one deworming shot.  In addition, somewhere between 2-5% of my animals receive an injection of an antibiotic when they become clinically ill.

Here I am giving a vaccination to a newly arrived animal.  This vaccine will help him to stay healthy and plays an important role in my preventative health plan...

Here I am giving a vaccination to a newly arrived animal. This vaccine will help him to stay healthy and plays an important role in my preventative health plan…

The goal is to do all of the holistic animal welfare practices correctly so that only a very small number of my animals get sick and require an antibiotic treatment.

In addition to motivating her husband and the other "beef boys" to achieve greatness, here she teaches her granddaughter how to cook!

30 years ago this wonderful lady motivated her husband and the other “beef boys” to achieve zero residues in beef, today she teaches her granddaughter how to cook!

Perhaps Dr. Griffin’s wife (pictured above) said it best when she reminded him 30 years ago that it was never acceptable to feed her children meat that contained residues.  I am pleased to report today that the percentage of finished cattle that go to harvest with a residue is 0.000017% which statistically equates to zero.

Dr. Griffin took his wife's message to heart and has dedicated his life to educating cattlemen and achieving the necessary "zero"...

Dr. Griffin took his wife’s message to heart and has dedicated his life to educating cattlemen and achieving the necessary “zero”…

For more information on the topic of antibiotics, take a minute to read this post from December of last year regarding antibiotic use at the feed yard.  https://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/the-misunderstood/.

Or, the USFRA just did a dialog on the use of antibiotics in food animals recently in New York City.  You can view the hour and a half long conversation at http://www.fooddialogues.com/ny-food-dialogues/antibiotics-and-your-food.

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The Great Puzzle: What role does a beta agonist play on my farm?

My farm is like a huge jigsaw puzzle.  There are many pieces that must be put together in the correct way in order to make the best beef in the most sustainable way.  I have a road sign along the highway with my farm’s mission statement: Protecting the Environment and Caring For Our Animals To Bring You Safe, Great-tasting, High Quality Nebraska Beef.  All of the decisions that I make at my cattle feed yard are made with this mission statement in mind.

Archie and I standing by the words that rule our lives…

I wake up every day asking myself how I can do a better job—how can I be a more responsible animal caregiver and grower of food?  Sometimes it is a question of paying closer attention to detail and sometimes it is a question of looking into new science / technology which will allow my animals to be more efficient producers of food.

We talked last week about how every action or choice has a consequence.  I think about this every time that I make a decision about how to care for my animals at the feed yard.  I talk with my veterinarian and my PhD nutritionist, I do personal research, I rely on personal experience, and I make a decision by weighing the positives against the negatives—knowing that every choice has a consequence.

I teach her how to care for cattle and raise beef. I also feed her that beef—good care and healthy beef is my priority.

I began feeding a beta agonist called ractopamine hydrochloride about four years ago.  I started feeding it to only a few of my animals and have slowly increased to feeding it to every one of my animals as I gained personal experience and confidence in the product.

This steer is in the final finishing phase at the feed yard. He is currently receiving ractopamine in his feed to help him continue to put on muscle as he is prepared for harvest…

Beta agonists work by activating either the beta 1 or the beta 2 receptor on the muscles of my cattle.  This affects protein synthesis and muscle growth.  What does this mean exactly?

  1. As animals grow larger and get close to the time of harvest, their bodies tend to turn nutrients into fat instead of lean muscle.  For example, ractopamine encourages or repartitions those nutrients into muscle growth through protein synthesis rather than fat deposition.
  2. This allows the animal to make more lean muscle (what we want to eat), and less fatty tissue (what we do not want to eat).
  3. By making more muscle and less fat from nutrients, the animal becomes a more efficient user of its food thereby reducing the total environmental footprint of its food production.

    Another steer receiving ractopamine and in the final stages of growth prior to harvest…

Here is a list of questions that I worked through prior to making the decision to feed ractopamine to my animals:.

  1. Does ractopamine affect the well-being or health of my animals? Good animal welfare is important to me and I want to ensure cattle comfort on my farm.  It has been my observation that cattle fed ractopamine on my farm remain comfortable and healthy.
  2. Does ractopamine affect the quality of the beef that my animals grow?  I follow my animals from birth to harvest and there is no impact on the quality or taste of the beef (I eat it too!). However, ractopamine does have a positive change on the leanness of my beef product:  it makes my beef leaner with less fat that must be trimmed off at the harvest level.
  3. Why feed ractopamine to cattle?  I feed it because it allows them to be more efficient convertors of my natural resources, while also allowing them to produce a leaner product with less fat trim at harvest.
  4. Would I feed beef from cattle that had been fed ractopamine to my children?  Absolutely, I do it every day.

    Two more “big boys” that are close to being “put on the bus”…

As with any practice that I employ on my farm, I constantly watch and evaluate its use.  I will continue to research and study the product ractopamine as well as to continue to evaluate its effectiveness.  Taking care of my animals, my farm, and producing wholesome beef are my top priorities—everything that I do on my farm must help me to successfully fulfill my mission statement.

While one beta agonist helps Karyn to get more oxygen to her lungs while she participates in athletics, a different one helps me to grow the beef that feeds her…Each one plays an important role in our family.

Do you have more questions about the use of beta agonists in cattle?  If so, please share them.

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What is a Beta Agonist?

A beta agonist works to relax smooth muscle tissue.  In humans, it is used to treat or prevent breathing problems that result from asthma or other airway diseases.  My daughter, Karyn, uses an albuterol inhaler before athletic events—this is an example of a beta agonist.  By relaxing the smooth muscle tissue in the airway, albuterol allows air to flow in and out of her lungs more easily.

Yes, it was cold enough Friday to warrant the stocking cap…Especially since she had just finished swimming practice :)

The use of an albuterol inhaler is new for Karyn.  Those of you that followed Feed Yard Foodie last November and December will remember that she became very ill and was hospitalized with pneumonia over Thanksgiving weekend.  My baby (she may be 7, but she’s still my baby!) got very sick, and her respiratory system still has not fully healed.  While there appears to be no permanent damage to her lungs, the tissue in her airway has not fully recovered which impedes her ability to move oxygen in and out of her lungs.

Go Kare-Bear Go!

Because she is such a tremendous little athlete, this challenges her.  She is my most “stoic” child, and never complains.  But, as I watched her run early this spring when athletics started up again after a winter hiatus, I could see her struggle to breathe.  When I initially took her to the doctor, she was only getting a 60% supply of oxygen into her lungs.  After an intensive two week treatment, we got her up to 80%.  She is on the right track, but it will take time for her to fully heal.  Until then, her albuterol inhaler will be a part of our athletic routine.

Setting the meet record in the 200M Saturday in Hastings, Nebraska…

Modern medicine and medical technology is amazing.  The first beta agonist became available for human use in 1968, and it has revolutionized the lives of asthma patients or other people like Karyn that have a temporary condition which impedes oxygen flow.

Animal scientists often look to human medical advancements for new ideas.  Animal scientists and food animal caregivers are constantly looking for ways to improve.  Whether you are talking about improvement in animal care, improvement in food quality and safety, or improvement in the use of resources necessary to grow that food; we constantly search for ways to get better.

I raise them to make beef—I am always looking for ways to do a better job. That sets both my animals up for success and also, you, the consumer of my beef.

A couple of decades after the first beta agonist became available for use in human medicine, animal researchers began looking for ways that they could be beneficial on farms growing food.  They discovered that a beta agonist could allow cattle to increase lean muscle (what we want to eat), and decrease fat deposition (what we do not want to eat) all while enabling them to use fewer pounds of feed to make more pounds of human food.

It is my job to be a responsible grower of food…Technology helps me to do this!

Thursday’s post will talk in more depth about the role that beta agonists play in improving the beef that I grow on my farm.  Which one do I use?—Why do I choose to use it?—How does it work?—How does it affect my animals and the beef that they make?

Family time on the track last Saturday—minus my favorite 12 year old who was competing in Tennessee at the Global Finals for Destination Imagination…

Beta agonists play an important role on my farm—Just as they play an important role in allowing my youngest daughter to continue with her love of athletics while her respiratory tract completes the healing process.

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The Misunderstood…

I hope that I teach my children the same love for training animals that my dad introduced to me...

As a child, I was first introduced to the art of training animals watching my dad train his hunting dogs.  When I moved to Nebraska and went to work at our cattle feed yard, my interest in working with animals blossomed.  Over the past 15 years, I have devoted my life to understanding and training my animals.  In a feed yard setting, this is critical for reducing the stress level of my animals and also for ensuring safe cattle handling for myself and my crew.

Dandy and I have a very special relationship that is built on a unique communication system...

Training animals absolutely fascinates me, and I spend my spare time training and working with my horses.  I winter my horses on the alfalfa field behind my house.  They graze all day, and then I bring them in at night into the corral.  My communication system with my horses is so subtle that all I need to do to bring them into the corral from the alfalfa field at the end of the day is to point my finger at the gate.

Grazing in the alfalfa field at dawn...

I am a good communicator with my animals because it is what I do every day.  Like many other cattlemen, my communication skills with my animals are better than my communication skills with people.  While my horses may know what I mean when I point my finger at something; that is certainly not an effective way for me to communicate with you: my beef consumer.  You have a right to know and understand where your beef comes from, so it is my job to figure out a way to explain it with words.

The last couple of weeks, I have spent a lot of time talking about antibiotic use (both human and bovine).  As I read through your comments and questions to me regarding this topic, I realized that I needed to address a couple more things for clarification purposes before I leave the subject for a while to talk about other things relative to cattle care and beef production.

  1.      How does the beef industry regulate itself relative to antibiotic use?  Cattlemen rely heavily on their consulting veterinarian for cattle health issues.  I am in close contact with my vet and he guides me on animal health issues (both on preventative health programs and in the treatment of clinically sick animals).  The Beef Quality Assurance program fosters this incredibly important relationship between cattle farmers and their vets, as well as providing further education on properly administering animal health products.  Finally, all of the antibiotics that I use at the feed yard are licensed and regulated by the FDA and I am required by law to administer them according to the label instructions.
  2. How can consumers know that their beef contains no remnants or traces of antibiotics? It is illegal to send a food animal to harvest with any trace of an antibiotic in their system.  You can feel confident that the beef that you are eating does not contain any antibiotic residues because cattle are tested at harvest for these residues, and if one does contain a residue then it is not allowed to enter the food chain.  The percentage of cattle coming out of cattle finishing feed yards (like mine) containing residues is 0.000017% which statistically equates to zero.
  3.       Are antibiotics routinely used as feed additives in cattle rations for the express purpose of growth promotion?  I do not feed antibiotics to my cattle for growth promoting purposes.  I do, however, use a feed additive that is an ionophore to improve the health of the rumen (cattle are ruminate animals and have a digestive tract that includes a system of four stomachs).  Ionophores are not classified by the FDA as antibiotics, and there is no product used in human health that contains anything remotely similar to an ionophore.  It is, therefore, irrelevant in the discussion of antibiotic resistance.  An ionophore modifies the fermentation process in the rumen which allows the bovine to capture more energy from its feedstuffs while also reducing the amount of methane that it secretes.  This is a very important part of reducing the environmental footprint of my cattle (fewer resources are necessary to produce beef while the amount of methane that they secrete into the environment is also reduced).
  4.      The explanation of ionophores brings me to the last question to address: Why is antibiotic use in cattle misunderstood by many consumers? I believe that there are two reasons that such a large misunderstanding exists regarding antibiotic use in cattle: 1. cattlemen (like me) do not do a good job communicating with you (the consumer) about the products that we use and the way that we use them, and 2. political activist groups incorrectly use statistics to scare consumers regarding antibiotic use in cattle.  The bottom line is that I follow the Judicious Use of Antimicrobials that I listed in my recent post https://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/the-conversationalist-take-2-bovine-respiratory-antibiotic-use-relative-to-human-antibiotic-resistance/ , I do my homework so that I understand the consequences of the decisions that I make regarding antibiotic use in my bovines, and I care about the issue of antibiotic resistance.

I encourage anyone that did not read the above mentioned post to read it carefully.  Both the Judicious Use of Antimicrobials and the seven part explanation of Dr. Mike Apley regarding the scientific process of antibiotic resistence development related to the use of antibiotics in food animals are incredibly important components to having a truthful and science based discussion about antibiotic use in cattle.

I feed my family the beef that I raise...The safety and healthiness of it is my top priority...

In the meantime, I will continue to work on my communication skills so that you all can develop a better understanding of how I care for my animals.

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The Conversationalist Take 2: Bovine Respiratory Antibiotic Use Relative to Human Antibiotic Resistance…

For my sixteenth birthday I went for a glider plane ride with one of my swimming teammates, Bill.  Bill’s birthday was just a few days away from mine, and we decided to do something “daring” to celebrate my 16th birthday and his 23rdbirthday.  Bill had graduated from college and was taking a year off to train for the Olympic Trials, and we became “training buddies”.  As “training buddies”, we spent about 30 hours a week together swimming and lifting weights.  In between training sessions, I went to high school and Bill worked as a lifeguard.

Here I am with our Coach, and Bill can be seen in the background. As part of our training, we competed in 1 mile ocean races. If my memory serves me right, this was right after Bill and I took 1st and 2nd places in the race...

I am not a naturally “daring” person, so my parents were pretty much astounded when I told them what Bill and I had planned.  In fact, I believe the looks shared by my parents when they heard our plan distinctly resembled the looks that they shared when I told them that I was getting married and moving to Nebraska to work at a cattle feed yard.

An aerial photo of my cattle feed yard...

Twenty years later and 2000 miles apart, Bill and I are still friends.  He is one of Feed Yard Foodie’s most loyal readers, and he left an interesting comment last week regarding the correlation between antibiotic use in humans and cattle relative to pneumonia infections.  I would like to take a moment to address the topic.  The information that I am going to share with you comes from Dr. Mike Apley DVM, PhD, DACVCP who teaches Pharmacology at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.  Dr. Apley is an expert on the topic of antibiotic use and resistance.

The Truths of Antibiotic Use and Resistance Relative to Respiratory Infections in Cattle and Humans:

  1. Respiratory pathogens (like pneumonia) in humans and cattle are different.  When we get ill, the “bugs” that cause the infection in humans are different from the “bugs” that cause the infection in cattle.  There is a species difference in pathogens causing respiratory illness.
  2. Cattle farmers (like me) use the Beef Producers Guide for Judicious Use of Antimicrobials in Cattle that were created by Dr. Apley and other veterinarians and animal scientists.  They are:
  • Prevent Problems: Emphasize appropriate husbandry and hygiene, routine health examinations, and vaccinations.
  • Select and Use Antibiotics Carefully: Consult with your veterinarian on the selection and use of antibiotics. Have a valid reason to use an antibiotic. Therapeutic alternatives should be considered prior to using antimicrobial therapy.
  • Avoid Using Antibiotics Important In Human Medicine As First Line Therapy: Avoid using as the first antibiotic those medications that are important to treating strategic human or animal infections.
  •  Use the Laboratory to Help You Select Antibiotics: Cultures and susceptibility test results should be used to aid in the selection of antimicrobials, whenever possible.
  •  Combination Antibiotic Therapy Is Discouraged Unless There Is Clear Evidence The Specific Practice Is Beneficial: select and dose an antibiotic to affect a cure.
  •  Avoid Inappropriate Antibiotic Use: Confine therapeutic antimicrobial use to proven clinical indications, avoiding inappropriate uses such as for viral infections without bacterial complication.
  • Treatment Programs Should Reflect Best Use Principles: Regimens for therapeutic antimicrobial use should be optimized using current pharmacological information and principles.
  • Treat the Fewest Number of Animals Possible: Limit antibiotic use to sick or at risk animals.
  • Treat for the Recommended Time Period: To minimize the potential for bacteria to become resistant to antimicrobials.
  • Avoid Environmental Contamination with Antibiotics: Steps should be taken to minimize antimicrobials reaching the environment through spillage, contaminated ground run off, or aerosolization.
  • Keep Records of Antibiotic Use: Accurate records of treatment and outcome should be used to evaluate therapeutic regimens and always follow proper withdrawal times.
  • Follow Label Directions: Follow label instructions and never use antibiotics other than as labeled without a valid veterinary prescription.
  • Extra label Antibiotic Use Must follow FDA Regulations: Prescriptions, including extra label use of medications must meet the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act (AMDUCA) amendments to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and its regulations.  This includes having a valid Veterinary-Client-Relationship.
  • Sub therapeutic Antibiotic Use Is Discouraged: Antibiotic use should be limited to prevent or control disease and should not be used if the principle intent is to improve performance.

 3. In order for antibiotic resistance in human drugs to develop from antibiotic use in food animals ALL of the following steps must occur:

  • Bacterial populations in the bovine animal are exposed to antimicrobials (antibiotics) on the farm.   A bovine animals gets sick with a bacterial infection and is then treated with antibiotics on the farm.
  • Selection for resistant organisms due to the antimicrobial treatment occurs in the bovine animal. Instead of the antibiotic curing the infection and killing all of the bugs, some bugs are left and become resistant to the antibiotic.   (If the antibiotic is administered correctly according to veterinarian and drug label instructions, this should not occur.)
  • After selection occurs (which should not happen—see above), there must then be an increased incidence of resistant organisms in the bovine animal.  The number of resistant organisms must grow.
  • Then, a transfer of these resistant organisms must occur through the food chain or through direct transfer to a human.  In other words, the “bug” must make the jump from the bovine to a human.
  • Then, a presence of food animal derived resistant bacteria must occur in a human.  The resistant bug must survive the “jump” and grow in the new human host.
  • Then, the food animal derived resistant bacteria must contribute to a human disease infection. In other words, the resistant bovine respiratory “bug” must make the human sick. (Another unlikely occurrence because the respiratory “bugs” that affect humans and bovines are not the same).
  • Finally, treatment failure or prolonged disease must occur due to pathogen (infectious bug) resistance.

Completion of all seven of these steps is highly unlikely, and therefore, it is believed by experts (like Dr. Apley) that when I use a cephalosporin antibiotic to treat a bovine with a pneumonia infection that it is NOT contributing to antibiotic resistance in human pneumonia pathogens.  When I use a cephalosporin at the feed yard to treat respiratory illness, it is highly effective at treating the disease.  This demonstrates that step 2 (of the 7 steps) is not attained, and consequently steps 3-7 cannot occur.  This means that the use of antibiotics to fight respiratory infections in my cattle do not contribute to antibiotic resistance in the human population.

Therefore, Dr. Apley reports that no scientific data exists to support the idea that a correlation exists between the uses of antibiotics in the treatment of respiratory illness in bovines with an emergence of an antibiotic resistant respiratory “super bug” in humans.

You can feel good about serving this to your family: it is safe and healthy and tastes great too!

Bill, I am sure that by now, you are wishing that Coach Andersen would give me a really long swimming work out so that I was forced to stop talking.  Some things never change, and I still am an opinionated female!  I have, however, done a lot of homework on this incredibly complex issue and hope that you find this post insightful…

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The Responsible User of Antibiotics…

I am a take charge person.  I am a person of action.  I am a planner.  It is very difficult for me to let things go and not be in the driver’s seat.  There is nothing that shakes my world up more than one of my children having a serious illness.  I can handle it when I am sick, but it shakes my foundation when it is one of my kids.

Like any parent, when my kids get sick I have an unrelenting desire to get them well as quickly as possible.  As an animal caregiver, I also have a great desire to obtain and maintain good health in my animals. Depending on what the source of the infection is when they become sick, sometimes that involves the use of antibiotics.

I will forever remember this smile---it came after two days of terrible sickness and struggle in the hospital. When I saw this smile, I knew that things were going to get better.

Karyn’s pneumonia infection was a tough one for me for a couple of reasons:  First, she got as sick as I have ever seen one of my children get.  During the five days that we spent in the hospital, we spent almost half that time getting Karyn’s infection stable so that she could begin the slow process of healing.  Secondly, I watched as the number of antibiotics and support drugs increased steadily in an attempt to get her well.  While all of these drugs were necessary to support her and help her body fight the infection, it was a lot to give to a little girl.

It took a combination of antibiotics to impact Karyn’s infection.  When the IV antibiotic did not cause any positive response in combating the infection, she was started on a second antibiotic orally that was from a different class of antibiotics.  The first antibiotic was a cephalosporin (B-Lactam antimicrobial), and the second was erythromycin (a macrolide antimicrobial).  I am familiar with both of these classes or families of antibiotics because I have antibiotics from those classes at the feed yard to use to treat my cattle if they develop an illness.

Healthy Cattle make Healthy Beef...

The issue of antibiotic resistance in bacterial infections is currently a very hot topic and, like many concerned people, I think about how my personal choices impact the balance of antibiotic use and efficacy.  We all play a role in the antibiotic resistance issue because we all use antibiotics.  Antibiotics (antimicrobials) are everywhere from prescription drugs to hand sanitizer.  I believe that the question that we must ask ourselves is:  Do the positives of using antibiotics out -weigh the subsequent possible impact on the bacterial organisms that live in our environment?  Because I am both a mother and a cattle farmer, I think about the issue of antibiotic resistance both from an animal use standpoint and from a human use standpoint.

Here I am treating a calf that has a respiratory infection with an antibiotic...This calf is clinically ill and will most likely die if I do not treat the infection...

When I use antibiotics at the feed yard, I use them very carefully and under the advice of my veterinarian using Beef Quality Assurance practices.  I diligently follow the “Judicious Use of Antimicrobials” protocol that has been developed by scientists and veterinarians.  I believe that healthy cattle make healthy beef, and sometimes I need to use antibiotics to help my cattle fight an illness.  In this instance, I believe that the positive results of antibiotic use to cure illnesses in food animals out-weighs the very slight risk that this use will impact the future efficacy of the antibiotics.  I am very careful to use the antibiotics according to the label directions which goes a long way in protecting the efficacy of the products for future use.

As a mom looking at the antibiotic resistance issue, I am also careful about how I use antibiotics with myself and my family.  I do not rush my kids to the doctor every time they have a cold because I know that antibiotics are not efficacious in fighting viral infections.  When prescription antibiotics are necessary, I am very careful to follow the directions and make sure that I use them for the prescribed period of time.  I also do not use anti-bacterial hand sanitizer, and only use anti-bacterial soaps when I feel that it is really necessary.  I want to be careful about how I use bacteria fighting products, because I know that I need them to work when we are faced with a crisis like Karyn’s pneumonia.

Getting up and around for the first time to try and starting building back some strength...

The issue of antibiotic resistance is incredibly complex and I do not even begin to understand the many complexities that go into the equation, but I have always believed that a little bit of common sense goes a long way.  If we all do our part to wisely use the tools that science discovers to combat infection, then those tools will remain as effective as the naturally evolving environment allows them to be.  We all play an important role as there is no easy fix to this challenge.  My experience with Karyn’s recent illness has caused me to do some serious soul searching to ensure that I am doing my part to be a responsible user of antibiotics both as a mom and as a food animal caregiver.

Are you doing your part?

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