Antibiotic Use in Livestock and Resistance
Image via: The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation

Each week, on Tuesdays at 6:00 p.m. Mountain Time, people from across the farming and ranching community gather for a Twitter chat to discuss what is going on in the world of agriculture. A new topic is the center of discussion each week and ranges from cropping systems to livestock news headlines. A moderator posts the questions and everyone responds to that question and engages with other users’ tweets in the allotted time for each question. Learn more about how to participate and join #AgChat the next time opportunity arises!

On September 8, I was invited to provide input on a special livestock #agchat discussing Antibiotics Use and Resistance in Livestock. I’ve written about antibiotics use in livestock several times based on my experience and was excited to join this chat. Especially considering the rise in conversations surrounding recent news reports.

Below is an excerpt from the night’s conversation with each question, followed by a few of my responses. Be sure to check out the links provided for more context, click the ‘Tweet’ to view on Twitter (be sure to Favorite and RT!). You can click on each question to pull up more tweets from that portion of the conversation. Thanks to Truffle Media for archiving this conversation!

Let me know if you have any additional thoughts or questions by the topics discussed below. Leave your remarks in the comments section at the end of this post or send me a Tweet, @AgProudRyan!

Q1 – What do you think ‘antibiotic free’ means to consumers? (whether you believe it is true or not)

  • ‘No Antibiotics’ by USDA means, “animals were raised without antibiotics” Consumer perceptions close? – Tweet
  • RT @drtleedvm: I think antibiotic free means different things to different consumers, depending on their level of #ageducation – Tweet
  • Exactly. Labeling and marketing terms often bring confusion. – Tweet
  • Confusion around ‘antibiotic free’ marketing has led many to question verification of term. – Tweet
  • Do many understand the role of FDA in antibiotics control, verification and use in livestock? #thinkingoutloud – Tweet

Q2 – Farmers: Why do you/why don’t you use #antibiotics on your farming operation?

Q3 – What #antibiotic metrics matter most? Judicious use? Reduction? Something else?

  • RT @DairyCarrie: On our farm we make sure we use the right drug for the bug. Meaning we make sure any RX used will take care of the problem – Tweet
  • Proper use, correct dose of appropriate #antibiotics reduces overall use. Don’t use them as a management crutch – Tweet
  • An example of judicious use of#antibiotics for beef cattle farmers and ranchers via #BQA – Tweet

Q4 – Consumers: Why should farmers care what people think about antibiotic use on the farm?

Example of
Why should farmers care what people think about antibiotic use on the farm? Because this is the type of #fearmessage general public is receiving in absence of agriculture’s input
  • Many have misinterpreted our use of#antibiotics and info being shared negatively impacts our biz – Tweet
  • General public (whether informed or not) makes policy decisions in elections. Make sure we provide access to correct info – Tweet
  • Because this is the type of #fear message general public is receiving in absence of agriculture’s input. – Tweet
  • RT @Crookedlakecows: consumers are our end-user in animal Ag. We need to consider their thoughts but also show them what we are doing is safe – Tweet
  • Because people like Food Babe are making money off trashing your image with fear. – Tweet

Q5 – What are the potential effects (positive & negative) of reducing #antibiotics in animal agriculture?

Q6 – What can be done to strengthen veterinarians’ & producers’ relationships related to #antibiotic use?

  • @Elanco veterinarian answered this exact question for me in this #podcast – Tweet
  • Clue in your veterinarian on normal management practices, consult them on a number of health and nutrition questions! – Tweet
    •  back to earlier point of some larger operations & feedyards having better relationship with vets & thus treatment strategies – Tweet
    • Yes! Larger operations benefit from hiring consultants in different management areas, not just vet.  – Tweet
  • Find out your vet’s favorite whisky? #jk – Tweet
  • Bookmark this video – Great panels on prevention, wellness and #antibiotics from human perspective! – Tweet
  • Julesybean: Vets can provide more than just medicine. They r in tune w/integrated prod. methods to help a farm business. – Tweet
    • Well trained large-animal vets definitely are, just hard to find. – Tweet

Q7 – There are #antibiotics used in animal feed to improve feed efficiency. What will happen when it stops?

  • “70% of all healthcare costs can be attributed to lifestyle choices” Human medicine stat vis CDC can be applied to livestock management. – Tweet
  • I struggle with the fact that these are classified as antibiotics. Still studying to do. – Tweet
  • For those asking, here’s a look at #antibiotics use in cattle feedlots – How / Why – Tweet
  • FYI – Phasing out now. Label for use of #antibiotics for growth efficiency must be removed by end of 2016. – Tweet
  • Here’s a @Feedstuffs @Elanco resource on Veterinary Feed Directives impacting this – Tweet

Q8 – What antibiotic resistance issues are veterinarians seeing in animal health?

  • NIAA had good info on antibiotic resistance during a symposium last year. Topics – Tweet
  • @agchat interesting. So are we not seeing much abx resistance in livestock? Or is it not identified, communicated by vets/labs? – Tweet

Q9 – There is lots of science around #antibiotic use. There is also lots of noise. What are resources to help consumers & farmers?

Q10 – What data sources can researchers use to estimate #antibiotic use in agriculture, if any?

  • Drug companies can provide insight on sales, though doesn’t precisely reflect use. – Tweet
  • RT emetzer: Yikes, hard question. I know what is NOT an accurate data figure: sales data. Doesn’t accurately represent judicious use. – Tweet
  • RT AskDrDorman: Check out the Animal Health Institute’s FAQ – Tweet

Q11 – What is the one thing you will do, based on this #antibiotic #AgChat? Take aways?

  • I think Q5 and Q8 provoke thought and need more exploration. – Tweet
  • We still have some abx education to do within our own communities. – Tweet
  • RT @AskDrDorman: More important than “educating” the consumer, let’s just listen to food concerns & answer questions openly & honestly – Tweet