Why are antibiotics used on the farm?
Antibiotics are used on farms and ranches to treat sick animals. Farmers and ranchers often work with veterinarians to build animal health plans, which include many tools such as vaccination, proper housing, hygiene and antibiotics. It’s also important to remember that antibiotics are only one tool in proper animal health care. Part of a disease-prevention program is the targeted use of antibiotics, at a time when a specific disease is likely to occur. Farmers and ranchers closely watch their animals every day and have learned when these moments in time often occur. Some examples of when antibiotics are used:
- To treat sick animals: Animals on farms, just like people, sometimes get sick. Antibiotics shorten the time an animal is sick. Without antibiotic treatment, many animals would be sick and uncomfortable for a longer period of time before getting better, spread the illness or, in some cases, they would suffer needlessly and possibly die.
- To prevent and control disease: Preventing or controlling the spread of a disease is critical to keeping animals safe and healthy – and to prevent suffering or unsafe conditions. They can’t stay home and isolate themselves like people can when they are ill. It is more humane and safer to prevent illness than to treat a sick animal that later may infect other animals.