Tag Archives: antibiotics

ADR…

Sometime in the later part of the 90’s, not too long after I moved to Nebraska and went to work at the feed yard, I asked my consulting veterinarian to come out to the farm and help me diagnose a calf.  I knew that something was wrong with it, but I was not experienced enough at the time to figure out exactly what ailed the animal.

When the vet arrived, he looked at the calf and said, “Anne, this calf is ADR”.

I replied, “Doc, what does ADR mean?”

He responded, “Well Anne, ADR means ‘ain’t doin right’.”

At this point in the conversation, I found myself getting a little bit frustrated as I knew that the animal was having difficulties — I was smart enough to figure that out on my own. What I needed was help figuring out specifically what was wrong so that I could enable the calf get better. We eventually got to that 🙂 And, I spent the next decade using his advice, along with my growing knowledge of the bovine animal and pyche, to become a intuitive animal care giver.

Over the years, Doc and I established a truly meaningful relationship and I think that we each got smarter as we traveled down the cattle care journey together. Much to my children’s chagrin, I started bringing home his interesting verbal lingo. Perhaps more importantly, I also developed an innately acute awareness of the concept of normal and healthy vs. abnormal and sick.

Anyone who has children recognizes that their good health will be interrupted with bouts of sickness. The key to being a good caregiver is recognizing the point that the pendulum shifts from healthy to ill, and acting appropriately to help diagnose and treat the challenge. We take our kids to the doctor when they get sick, but we still play a critical role on their diagnosis and care team. It’s really not very different from the relationship that I had with my veterinarian caring for my cattle.

The observations that we (as caregivers) can offer to the doctor, and the intuitive awareness of what level of support those that we care for need throughout the illness helps to aid in their recovery.

This past week my favorite brunette was challenged by a nasty viral respiratory infection. Despite a trip to the doctor and a round of tamiflu, she progressed past ADR to a level of illness that made my “caregiver’s instinct” uncomfortable. After almost 7 days with a fever and nasty cough, I sent her back to the doctor as I feared a secondary pneumonia infection. X rays showed pneumonia in the right lung and she began antibiotic treatment.

When she and her dad got home from the doctor, my favorite farmer looked at me and said: “Well, I guess you were right. I should know by now to trust your gut instinct.” I am glad to report that the pneumonia infection appears to be susceptible to the doctor’s choice of antibiotics. After 10 days of misery, she was able to swing back past ADR to a much better part of the health spectrum.

While I know that I sometimes drive my family nuts with my cowboy euphemisms and diagnoses, I think that the knowledge that I gained working with my vet made me a better caregiver — both toward my animals and toward my children. Awareness, intuition, education, and a practical team based common sense approach sets both our animals and our kids up for success.

It is good to have my baby on her way back to good health. While her recovery is slow, hopefully in the next week or so she will be back to answering the call of the track as she is going a bit stir-crazy being banned from running and exercise…

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Filed under Antibiotics, Family, General

Metrics and Antibiotics…

My favorite blonde cowgirl writes an inspirational quote each week on the white board on the office wall. This white board primarily serves as an organizational tool for us at the feed yard listing the upcoming cattle schedule, but over the years my crew has also learned to look to it for Megan’s Weekly Inspirational Message. I love to watch what she comes up with for her weekly mantra – it is an awesome way for me to see my parenting lessons come back through the eyes of my teenage daughter.MetricsMeg.jpg

A couple of weeks ago, Megan shared a quote from Galileo Galilei that voices one of the most important lessons that I have learned running a farm: Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so. I cannot improve what I cannot measure, so metrics provide the basis as I strive to get better each and every day.

Almost five months have passed since I wrote the Subway post that garnered half a million reads in a matter of days. In light of the continuing conversation regarding antibiotic use in food animals, I want to take a moment to share how I continually work to reduce the antibiotic footprint of my farm.

Metrics (a system of measuring) provide the key…

When I first began trying to reduce antibiotic use at the feed yard more than a decade ago, I realized that I needed to understand — the what, the when, the why and the how much – I needed to establish a benchmark set of metrics to determine our current use, and then use those numbers to brainstorm and search for ways to reduce them.

The metrics enabled me to see patterns of use and work to develop new management practices in my search for reduction.  Some of these include:

  • I implemented a holistic system of low stress cattle care.
  • I began tracing my animals from birth to harvest – working directly with the ranchers that provided me with cattle in a system of vertical collaboration. This increased teamwork enabled us to more effectively consult with our veterinarians. Together, we did additional research on vaccine health history in order to make changes that better protect our animals against disease.
  • I consulted with my ruminant nutritionist looking for the best feed combinations to create a nutrient rich and appropriate diet for my animals while also efficiently making use of the feed resources that my favorite farmer grows.
  • My crew and I tenaciously worked toward a daily animal care system that consistently and optimally provides for our animals’ needs.

Metriccalf2.jpgThese sound like simple and easy steps, but the beef chain is so complex that it has taken me most of a decade to create a cross-production system that meaningfully reduces the amount of antibiotics used on my farm. Today, the number of animals that get sick on our farm and have to be treated with an antibiotic is less than half of what it was a decade ago. I reported in the Subway post that my yearly treatment rate for August 2014-July 2015 was 7.8%.

Metrics for the seven months since then show another downward trend from 7.8% to 5.54%. I am especially proud of that trend given the recent environmental stress of winter storm Kayla. We tend to have the highest rate of sickness in the late fall and winter, so I am looking forward to seeing the 12 month number next summer. In addition to lowering the number of sick animals on my farm, our death loss currently sits at only 0.54%.

Looking critically at my farm — the way we source our animals as well as the type and quality of care that we give them — I can continually put the pieces of the puzzle together in modified ways in order to accomplish my ultimate goal.

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As notated by the wise words of Galileo Galilei, measuring provides the key to improvement. I love it that Megan has learned the need to quantify in order to improve.   Good cattle care requires both brains and brawn 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Animal Welfare, Antibiotics, General

Following Up On Subway…

I am a cattle farmer who blogs. This combination leads to an interesting life, but yesterday’s blog experience surpasses anything that I could have imagined. There are times when I wonder if anyone reads what I write – I did not have to wonder yesterday as my email box filled with hundreds of messages as I did my normal “cowgirl” chores.

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The huge outpouring of comments and the just short of 500,000 reads renews my faith that Americans are willing to engage with a farmer to learn about where food comes from.

This afternoon, Subway issued a revised statement which brings me hope that we can work together to form meaningful change. I have copied the relevant verbiage in the below paragraph which came directly from their website. The bold green portion is the additional language that appears in the revised statement as of today.  Subway states:

Our goal is to reduce and eliminate the use of antibiotics in the food we serve. Elimination of antibiotics use in our supply chain will take time, but we are working diligently with our suppliers to find quality solutions that also ensure our high quality and food safety standards are upheld and not compromised in any way. Our plan is to eliminate the use of antibiotics in phases with the initial focus on the poultry products that we serve in the U.S. We are in the process of transitioning to chicken products made from chicken raised without antibiotics and expect this transition to be completed by the end of 2016. In addition, turkey products made from turkey raised without antibiotics will be introduced in 2016. The transition is expected to take 2-3 years. Supply of pork and beef products from animals raised without antibiotics in the U.S. is extremely limited. We expect our transition to take place by 2025. That said, we recognize that antibiotics are critical tools for keeping animals healthy and that they should be used responsibly to preserve their effectiveness in veterinary and human medicine. Our policy is that antibiotics can be used to treat, control and prevent disease, but not for growth promotion of farm animals. Accordingly, we are asking our suppliers to do the following:

  • Adopt, implement and comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (“FDA’s”) guidance for industry 209 and 213, which requires that medically important antibiotics not be used for growth promotion. Visit the FDA site to learn more.
  • Assure that all antibiotics use is overseen, pre-approved and authorized by a licensed veterinarian before they are administered to any animal.
  • Keep accurate and complete records to track use of all antibiotics.
  • Adhere at all times to all legal requirements governing antibiotic withdrawal times. This assures that antibiotics have been eliminated from the animals’ systems at the time of slaughter.
  • Actively encourage, support and participate in research efforts focused on improving animal health while reducing antibiotics use.

I view Subway’s revised statement as a victory for all of us.  I am incredibly thankful to everyone who read my post and contributed to the discussion.

I went through the comments from yesterday’s post and grouped them into a few different categories that require further explanation:

  1. The Title: I gave a lot of thought to what to call my blog post, and the chosen title demonstrated how I felt (as a cattle farmer) when I read Subway’s first announcement. The title was a reflection of my feelings – something that I think is appropriate on a personal blog site. I view the scenario painted by the title as a very real possibility in the future of food production if farmers are not included in the discussion of “how food animals are raised”.
  2. Today, there exists a diverse food production system in the United States that includes both conventionally raised animals, and “niche market” animals such as organic and cattle that have never received an antibiotic. I think that this is a valuable system. Within this current system, organic and never treated animals can be moved out of niche market production and into the regular markets when they become sick and require treatment. While there are logistics involved to ensure that withdrawal times are adhered to before these animals are marketed, the system is relatively seamless. I think that Subway’s initial statements threatened rather than enhanced the current diverse system. The company was quoted as saying that the time line for beef and pork was elongated in order to allow the meat industry to change its practices while keeping the cost of their meat supply stable. This tells me that the premium for niche market animals would fall by the wayside with the creation of a new system where niche market beef sells for regular prices, and meat from animals that have been treated with antibiotics would sell at a discount (with the eventual possibility of being deemed worthless).
  3. Someone asked what makes animals get sick: Animals get sick when they come in contact with either a bacteria or a virus that penetrates their immune system. Stressful events caused by weather, movement, or coming in contact with other animals outside of the home herd are common contributors. I have worked hard over the past 15+ years to find ways to lower stress on my animals, and I have been successful in reducing the number of animals that require treatment. I mentioned in my post that last year I treated 7.8% of the animals in my feedyard. I would like to get that figure under 5% and am working with both my veterinarian and my rancher partners to accomplish this.
  4. Sub Therapeutic use: I serve on multiple national committees made up of scientists (including veterinarians) and farmers that are currently working to eliminate sub therapeutic antibiotic use in food animal production. Antibiotics necessary in human medicine are no longer used for growth promotion, and veterinarians play a key role in preventing and diagnosing illnesses so that they can be effective when necessary. I believe that we are moving the right direction.
  5. I think that further research on antibiotic resistance is critical as we all search for continuous improvement (both on the human and the animal side). Each and every one of us has a “footprint”, and it will take a team effort to make meaningful improvement. I am committed to this. I also think that we all need to be committed to being good stewards: to each other, to our animals, and to our planet. As someone pointed out, there are “bad actors” that exist in every industry – we need to turn those people into stewards so that positive improvement can be attained.

This is getting long, so I will wrap it up. It has always been my intent to be a positive instigator for continuous improvement in this journey we call food production. I put in long hours on my farm offering care to my animals, and additional hours reaching out to each of you to share how I grow beef. While I will never achieve perfection, I try to make up for it with hard work and sincerity.Annealley.jpg

Thank you for traveling along with me.

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Filed under Animal Welfare, Antibiotics, hormones, and other growth promotants...

Subway Announces That a Bullet Is Their Treatment Of Choice For Sick Animals…

**AUTHORS NOTE: Due to the huge response to this blog post and my responsibilities on the farm, I am unable to respond to each comment made by readers.  I am reading the comments, and I plan to post a new blog responding to questions brought up in the comment section within the next few days.  Thank you for reading, and thank you for caring. It renews my faith in our country that 400,000 of you all care enough about your food to read a farmer’s thoughts.

Tuesday, Subway restaurants made the announcement that beginning in March 2016 it will serve chicken raised without antibiotics. Further, the company will source turkey, pork and beef in the same manner within a 10 year period. A spokesman for Subway stated that company’s goal is “eliminating antibiotics from all of its meat supplies within 10 years”.

There are two different things going on in the above statement that are being blended into a mass of dramatic confusion. I want to take a moment to clarify so that everyone can be educated food purchasers.

  1. Eliminating harmful levels of antibiotics from meat has already been accomplished.  It is illegal in the United States to market food animals that carry unsafe antibiotic residues. This is a non-negotiable fact of food production. The meat that you purchase from Subway today is safe. That is the law. Subway’s announcement makes no change to that fact.
  2. Sourcing meat from animals that have never been treated with an antibiotic affects how the farmer raises the animal. It does not change the meat, it changes the way that the animal is raised.

annecattlecab.jpgIn my mind, Subway’s announcement states that a bullet is their treatment of choice for sick food animals. They wish to only purchase meat that comes from animals that have never been treated with an antibiotic. Food animals (like cattle) are grown for the sole purchase of providing a high quality dietary protein. If Subway does not want the meat from an animal that required antibiotic treatment for illness at any time during its lifetime, then I have two choices: leave the sick animal to suffer until it likely dies, or shoot it with a bullet and end its life immediately.

Quite frankly, neither choice is acceptable to me. I hope that neither choice is acceptable to you.

As a cattle farmer, it is my job to raise my animals humanely in order to produce safe and healthy beef. It is unreasonable for my customers to demand the impossible. I cannot raise 100% of my animals over a lifespan of almost two years without ever using an antibiotic. Things happen – Animals can get sick.  It is my job to help them when they do.

I want healthy animals that make healthy beef because that creates responsible and sustainable food production. It is the right thing to do to treat a sick animal that needs special care. I should be able to expect my customers to understand that the meat product that comes from that small percentage of animals is still fit for human consumption.

Let’s do a little bit of cowboy math to look at the reality of Subway’s statement…

In the twelve month period of August 1, 2014 to July 31, 2015, I treated 7.8% of the cattle on my farm with an antibiotic for an individually diagnosed illness. These animals were treated under the direction of my veterinarian according to Beef Quality Assurance practices. Additionally, in compliance with federal law, those animals were held on the farm until the required withdrawal time passed to ensure that no antibiotics were present in their meat when they went to slaughter.

I marketed approximately 5500 animals during that 12 month period which means that somewhere in the neighborhood of 430 of those animals were treated on my farm for an individually diagnosed illness. Each of those animals produced approximately 820# of meat and other products. Either shooting these animals with a bullet at diagnosis or letting them suffer until they died would result in an estimated 352,600# of wasted product.

That scenario is both irresponsible and unacceptable. I am a dedicated animal caregiver, and I am proud of the beef that comes from my animals. It is safe – I feed it to my family. However, some of it comes from animals that required additional care in the form of an antibiotic to regain health at some point in their two year life time.

annemattbeef1

As a mother, a farmer, and an American: I recognize the importance of the antibiotic resistance issue. I have blogged about it many times. However, we need to respond intelligently in our quest for a remedy. There is nothing intelligent about a corporate statement that dictates wasting millions of pounds of food each year.

It saddens me that food production has slumped to this level, and I refuse to comply.

**Subway issued a revised statement this afternoon.  You can find this statement along with my responses to questions asked in the comment section of this blog post in a new post by clicking here.

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Reviewing the Topic Of Antibiotics…

I have received many requests for information over the past week relative to antibiotic use in cattle feed yards.  Instead of reinventing the wheel, I am going to share the links to a series of blog posts that I wrote a few years ago, as well as an updated post from the fall of 2013.  For those of you with questions regarding this topic, hopefully reading these posts will help you out.

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I am also including a short update on my favorite 10 year old whose struggle with pneumonia instigated the antibiotic posts three years ago.

Really, one could argue that I am taking the opportunity to brag about my awesome daughter who (over the past three and half years) over came a series of complications from a nasty illness event with a maturity and tenacity that makes this Mama proud.

She is a rock star runner and swimmer, and maintains a daily fitness level that would leave most people exhausted.  Yesterday, during her mile swimming workout she completed her first 50 meter freestyle swim without breathing (that’s two laps of a 25 meter pool with a flip turn and no oxygen intake) — using those lungs that she has worked so very hard to strengthen. Perhaps what makes me most proud is that this journey is one that we have taken together: allowing me to serve as both her coach and training partner 🙂

You can read here how she is living proof that  “drugs can be traded for fitness” with the right work ethic and a little bit of faith…

Below is the antibiotic series.  I have written a brief explanation of each post immediately following the underlined link.

If you are still interested in more of the day to day workings of a feed yard relative to antibiotic use and cattle health, then I encourage you to click on either the category labeled Animal Welfare or Antibiotics, Hormones and other Growth Promotants that are listed on the right side of the home page.  Those categories will take you to other posts written on this issue. Or, you can visit Facts About Beef and read their post Antibiotics 101.

calendar raceAs both a mom and a cattle caregiver, I do my best to be a responsible user of antibiotics.  I know how very important they are, and I strive to get better with each day that passes.  Appropriate antibiotic use is a journey that we all travel together — One that must be based on a dedication to continuous improvement.

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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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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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Straight To The Source…

My father-in-law is notorious for always striving to multi-task…He wants to accomplish as much as possible all of the time.  I have to admit that, most of the time, I share this sentiment.

My original invitation to travel to Washington DC last week came from the Academy of Veterinary Consultants (AVC).  The AVC is a group of veterinarians that spend the majority of their professional time caring for cattle.  They are the professionals that help me to offer the best possible care to my cattle which ensures that you receive the best possible beef.

My Veterinarians play an important role helping me to raise safe and nutritious beef...

The AVC and its veterinary members get together three times per year for professional training and continuing education relative to cattle care.  I was asked to speak to their group about the Holistic Animal Care program that I use at my cattle feed yard to ensure optimal animal health and performance.  It was a tremendous honor for me to be asked to speak to this group.

A beautiful sight outside of the Capitol...

Because I wanted to maximize my trip, I asked my cattlemen’s organization (there are professional organizations made up of cattle farmers like me) if I could help them with anything on Capitol Hill while I was in Washington DC.  The Hill was officially on recess but I participated in a Beef 101 educational seminar for Congressional Staff both on the House and Senate sides.  During the seminar, I shared how I care for cattle and raise beef with interested staff members.  This time, I was lucky to be able to work with Dr. Guy Loneragan of Texas Tech University.

Dr. Loneragan and I right before the first Beef 101 seminar...

We specifically talked about the daily care of cattle, and the role that antibiotics play on cattle farms.  Dr. Loneragan shared with our audience the scientific complexity of the antibiotic resistance issue.  It was an appropriate topic given that the Federal Drug Administration made a couple of big announcements regarding the use of antibiotics in food animals while we were in Washington DC.

This is the beautiful House Agricultural Committee room where one of the Beef 101 seminars took place...

I did a lengthy series of posts late last fall on antibiotic use and the subsequent risk of resistance that comes with that use.  I encourage you all to read them as I believe them to be both accurate and applicable: https://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/the-balancer/

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/

I care about them and for them every day...I think that I am an accurate source of information regarding their health and the role that antibiotics play or do not play...

It always disappoints me when the AP news story reporting on new FDA antibiotic guidance documents reads something like this:  The FDA cracked down this week on the irresponsible use of antibiotics by farmers who overcrowd their animals and fill them with important human antibiotics to make them grow faster and enable them to survive horrible and crowded living conditions.

Quite honestly, as I read a passage such as that, I want to subsequently cry and beat my head against the wall!  Statements such as the one above do not represent what occurs on my cattle farm and I can say with confidence that they do not represent what occurs on most cattle farms. To set the record straight, I would like to make the following personal statements:

  • I do not use important human antibiotics to improve the growth of my animals.
  • I only use antibiotics to control disease and treat ill animals.
  • I make it a priority to keep the living conditions of my animals conducive to animal comfort.  My cattle pens are spacious and allow for normal bovine interaction.
  • I do everything in my power to ensure that my cattle are “set up for success” so that they naturally prosper and make safe beef.
  • I realize as both a mom and a cattle caregiver the incredible importance of judiciously using antibiotics whether it is in my home with my children or on the farm with my cattle.  I share that responsibility with every other American and I take it very seriously.

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