Imagine your son or daughter sick with a common cold. You don’t take them to the doctor and within a few days the cold has settled in their lungs, they can’t stop coughing, their throat hurts, they can’t sleep. You still don’t take them to the doctor. A few days later they are suffering from pneumonia. Do you A) take them to the doctor and get them on some medication that may potentially save their life? Or, B) leave them to die?
Most people would have taken their child to the doctor several days before pneumonia set in. Yet many of these same people have a loud voice and are demanding that farmers and ranchers leave the antibiotics and simple mineral vaccinations at home. A newborn calf, left outside with a snotty nose, fluid in its lungs, left to die. But hey, its “all natural!”
“Antibiotic free,” “hormone free,” “natural,” the list goes on and on. To make a long story short, ALL meat purchased is antibiotic free! Withdrawal periods are put on every antibiotic that is ever given to livestock and there are strict regulations on those withdrawal dates. Additionally, all meat is tested for antibiotics before being sold.
In regards to hormone free beef, the amount of added hormones is extremely minimal. Hormones are used by producers and feedlots to increase gain and performance of their livestock. It allows us to raise more meat more efficiently, which allows us to effectively feed the world safely. The hormones used are in extremely small doses and are NOT a danger to consumers. These products undergo continuous and rigorous testing to ensure both consumer AND animal safety.
Producers like myself, truly love our livestock. We love our way of life and love being able to work with animals each and everyday. Why would we want to see them suffer? We treat our livestock extremely well not just because they are a form of income, but because it is the right thing to do. We care for them, we want them to be healthy and happy. They are given the best feed money can buy, they are given adequate shelter, always fresh water and the best treatment in order to keep them healthy.
Death does happen on a farm. From a young age, we learn that no matter what you do, you cannot save every calf, every piglet, every lamb. But we can adopt the best vaccination, nutrition and management practices to ensure those animals the best chance at living a healthy and prosperous life!
American agriculture is sound and built on principles. As a producer, I will always continue to vaccinate and keep my cattle healthy just like I will, when the day comes, that I have children of my own. I wouldn’t leave my own child out to die anymore than I would leave a newborn calf out to die.