Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

More on antibiotics - what would it be like without them?

Thanks to everyone for their comments here and also over on "the facebook" on yesterday's post about the FDA limiting the use of antibiotics in livestock.

 Our turkeys have zero antibiotics in them.

What really got me thinking about this is was that my pal M posted an article last week about what it would be like if we didn't have antibiotics and reminded us what it was like before. I think we take it for granted that a scratch or a mild infection isn't going to kill us anymore. And The Black Death? Sure it still exists but it can be treated easily.

[Note: that's not my "The Black Death" but the real plague that killed a huge portion of the population every time it came around. Those people needed an Insane Cat Posse...]

Both of these dogs have had more antibiotics than any of our livestock. Look at Baby Bubby!!

I have to tell you it kind of freaks me out to think about how a disease that killed so many people and completely changed our culture's social structure can now be treated by a handful of pills that they give away for free or sell for $4 at our Kroger (with a prescription of course).


One of the things this article...and also this one that my friend JA and I both read... talk about is that if we lose the use of antibiotics - not only will we not have a way to treat sinus infections, for instance, but all kinds of medical treatments. Cancer treatments, traumatic injuries, common surgeries would also be at risk.

Will the FDA's new rules help with any of this? I dunno... some of us feel like it's a little too little and a little to late. The overuse of antibiotics is a concern for everyone. But where do you draw the line?

I'm one of the people who needs them. Whenever I get sick it's almost always bacterial - I almost never get a virus. After hearing from a new doctor, or whoever is in the Urgent Care, that they "don't just hand out antibiotics like candy" and why was I asking for them I almost always end up with a prescription. Is this necessary? For me - yep. I follow a predictable pattern that ends in pneumonia. Am I over-using them or just unlucky?

What about for on-farm use? What will this mean for folks like us who need antibiotics from time to time for our barnyard? Are we over using them? What are we going to do when these regulations kick in - are we just screwed? A bunch of us do our own vet work. Now before the rest of you have a stroke, please just calm down. Not everyone has access to a large animal vet even for smaller barnyard animals... or a vet who can treat goats and chickens.

I can tell you that for a lot of us smaller farms if we can't get antibiotics for our occasional use there will probably be a lot more livestock ending up in a shallow grave. You can parse it out any way you want to but I am just not going to pay a $100 vet bill for a $5 chicken - even if she is my favorite layer. 

I once asked the local vet about a specific antibiotic for Nibbles (recommended to me by a guy who had forgotten more about goat then any of us will ever learn). The vet literally lost his mind. After he yelled at me for "over using antibiotics" he said that he didn't treat goats and in fact had only one semester of farm animal care in his vet program. OK. Speaking for myself, we don't buy treated or medicated feed for any of our milk or meat producers and we make most of our food here. It was a fact that everything that vet ate that day was commercially produced in feedlots teaming with all kinds of drugs. So was overusing? Was he going off half-cocked or was I the one that was ill informed?

So we've circled back around to antibiotic use in feed and in commercially produced meat again. Are these new mandates going to work? Some folks feel that there are so many loopholes that this will be side stepped and it will be business as usual for the big CAFO's.

But you have to start somewhere, right?

Even if you don't grow your own meat you can still do your part. Find a local meat source, check labels, and talk to your store's meat manager. Be aware of what you are eating. Drive right on by that drive thru and go home and make your own supper. I promise you, after a while you won't even miss it.

As for me, I had non-medicated turkey for breakfast and we'll probably have non-medicated pork for dinner. Who knows what gonna happen for lunch - but I guarantee it wont be teaming with antibiotics.

Happy Saturday, everyone! Thanks again for all of your comments. Let's keep this discussion going as these new regulations unfold. Remember, we are all in this together.


Weekend cowgirl said...

Not for antibiotics in feed, but sure am for them when we have a sick animal that would die otherwise....

Patty@inStitches said...

When we were on the farm we used very little antibiotics other than what the vet used a time or two. Never medicated anything that was going to cross our table either! Our children were raised pretty much the same - only the mandatory injections required to attend school - and they are all healthy thriving adults - so-oooo.
Myself, I'm highly reactive to drugs, they call it chemical hypersensativity - and it means hives with every antibiotic - which I am just getting over a bad case of hives because of an antibiotic given when I had a cyst removed from my back three weeks ago.
And I do believe 'we' get carried away when it comes to drugs - people seem to think if a little helps a whole lot more is better!
Maybe it's the whole 'super-size it' mentality, but we do too much of it!!

collieguy said...

I'm in the too little too late, and how will they figure a way to further screw it up camp. I remember when we started using Tamworths, not only were the sows able and willing to shred coyotes, but the piglets contracted nothing that couldn't be prevented with sunshine, fresh straw and plenty of alfalfa pasture. Unfortunately our efforts to set the industry back sixty years came to naught.

Unknown said...

Antibiotics are precious and should be used to treat real problems not just fed to every animal just in case. I hope these laws work or we will all be screwed eventually. We feed our animals garlic, but have needed the occasional antibiotic for bad infections.

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