Livestock Care and Antibiotic Use

“Science tells us that the risk for humans' health to be affected from antibiotic use in animals is minimal." — Scott Hurd, Iowa State University veterinary medicine professor 

Livestock farmers take care of their animals because it’s the right thing to do, it makes good business sense and they know that safe food comes from healthy animals. Many farmers choose to raise their animals in modern barns, which protect them from predators, disease and extreme climates. These barns are warm, well-lit and scientifically designed for the specific needs of the animal.

Livestock Care

  • Today’s farm animals live healthier lives than ever before. The objective for livestock farmers is to provide the best possible care for their animals. Livestock farmers raise their animals by adhering to the best management practices consistent with the industry’s livestock and poultry quality assurance programs. 
  • Well-cared-for animals are an important part of a safe, healthful food supply, which is why livestock farmers are committed to the safest and most appropriate care for their animals. Beyond the ethical and moral reasons to provide the best possible environment for livestock, farmers have an economic incentive to caring for the animals. If animals are stressed, they show it through loss of appetite, weight loss and susceptibility to illness. 
  • Modern livestock facilities protect animals from bacteria and viruses carried by visiting people or animals, meaning fewer antibiotics have to be used.  The barns are also designed to maintain a consistent temperature and cleanliness that ensures animals stay healthy and grow fast. These facilities also allow farmers to closely monitor the health of each animal. 
  • Livestock farmers care for their animals by providing a nutritious and balanced diet, veterinary care and a safe and clean environment. 

Antibiotic Use 

  • Livestock farmers provide their animals with health care that prevents, controls and treats disease. Just like humans, sometime animals need medications, including antibiotics, when they are sick. Responsible antibiotic use is often the best choice to treat sick animals or prevent animals from getting sick. 
  • Farmers often consult veterinarians before providing medical treatment including administering antibiotics to their animals. Livestock farmers work with veterinarians to first prevent, and then judiciously treat, illness in their animals. Many antibiotics require a veterinarian prescription and oversight. 
  • Livestock farmers understand that healthful animals are an important part of a safe and healthful food supply for everyone. Evidence shows that proper use of antibiotics in livestock is not creating a public health risk. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitors antibiotic medicines on a regular basis to ensure the medicines are effective, and safe for animals and the meat and milk they produce. FDA’s New Animal Drug Application approval process requires a sponsor to submit multiple studies conducted over multiple years to prove an antibiotic’s safety. 

Farmers have economic and ethical reasons to provide the best possible care for their animals. Safe food and healthy animals go hand-in-hand. Livestock farmers strive to innovate and adopt the latest technologies to meet consumer expectations about the safety and quality of the products they produce. Farmers know the food produced on their farms not only feeds consumers around Iowa and the nation, but feeds their family as well.