Cattle ranchers use hormones to improve how animals’ bodies turn food into lean muscle. This means meat is leaner and animals grow more quickly. This is one factor that helps meat prices for the consumers. Additionally, there’s less of an environmental impact per pound of meat raised today because of tools such as growth hormones. Each pound of beef raised in 2007, compared to 1977, uses 19 percent less feed, 33 percent less land, 12 percent less water and 9 percent less fossil fuel energy.
Further, the use of growth hormones produces animals with leaner muscle, meaning the final product is less fatty – a quality many consumers demand and appreciate.
Similarly, dairy farmers may use hormones to extend milk production so fewer cows can make more milk, reducing costs and environmental impact. Modern dairy practices require considerably fewer resources than dairying in 1944 with 21 percent of animals, 23 percent of feedstuffs, 35 percent of the water and only 10 percent of the land required to produce the same one billion kilograms of milk. Hormones given to dairy cows are not the same as those given to cattle for beef. It doesn’t cause the animal to grow bigger.
WHY ARE HORMONES USED ON FARMS?
Farms and ranches of all sizes and shapes – big and small – may choose to use supplemental growth hormones.
In general, cattle and dairy farmers and ranchers use supplemental growth hormones:
1) to keep costs lower because the animals grow better with less food
2) to protect the environment because less food and fewer animals means less environmental impact
3) to keep the meat leaner and less fatty, an important quality many consumers want.