There’s no silver bullet for keeping animals healthy. The responsible use of antibiotics is just one tool used on farms. Good stewardship also involves proper nutrition, good ventilation, biosecurity, appropriate housing and other measures designed to protect animal health and ensure food produced from animals is safe. Although vaccines are not available for every disease, when they are, they help protect an animal’s health, too.
Farmers recognize that a high-quality diet is important to ensuring healthy animals. Just as many of us regularly consume multivitamins, feed mills formulate special diets for animals. The feed consists of grains, protein and numerous vitamins and minerals. A balanced diet and access to fresh water are essential for animals raised for food.
Another important part of animal well-being is called “biosecurity.” It consists of precautions taken to:
Prevent disease from being brought onto a farm from an outside source.
Reduce the spread of disease within a farm.
Prevent disease from leaving the farm so it doesn’t spread to other areas.Biosecurity measures include farmers restricting access to areas where animals are housed to prevent the entrance of disease-causing bacteria and viruses that might be on shoes or tires, and people who work on the farms showering and putting on clean clothing before entering areas where animals are housed.
Despite these efforts, illness still occurs from time to time. Similar to a school environment, when one child gets sick, the infection often spreads to others. When an animal is ill with a bacterial infection, treating it with antibiotics is the right thing to do.
The ultimate goal is to provide safe, wholesome food for families. Food safety begins with all the safeguards on the farm, continues at the processing plant with application of hygienic standards and pathogen reduction technologies, and extends to the proper handling and cooking of food in both the market and at home. All of these steps work in tandem as layers of protection to keep animals healthy and decrease the risk of foodborne illness.
To read the full blog, infographic and more from Leah, visit animalantibiotics.org/many-steps-taken-keep-animals-healthy-food-safe.
Leah Dorman is a new addition to U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance’s Digital Voices Council. All opinions expressed are the writer’s own. Funded by one or more checkoff programs.