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Antibiotic-Free Livestock Production Systems Create Animal Welfare Challenges

By Bruce Cochrane.

A Veterinary Pathologist with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine says maintaining animal welfare under antibiotic-free production systems can be a challenge.
In response to public concerns over potential reductions in the effectiveness of antibiotics to treat disease resulting from their over use, livestock producers have restricted and even eliminated the use of antibiotics in their operations turning instead to improved methods of disease prevention and alternative methods of treatment.
Dr. Susan Detmer, a Veterinary Pathologist with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, told those on hand last month for Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2017 in Saskatoon there is an animal welfare concern.

Dr. Susan Detmer-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
We are reducing the number of antibiotics that are being fed overall within the Canadian pork industry.
There are a number of antibiotics that we don't use anymore at all.
There are a number of farm systems that are going RWA or raised without antibiotics.
There has been a learning curve on getting the best production out of those animals and changing some of our systems, how we handle the animals and, by their age group how we move them around in order to keep those diseases down.
That certainly is something we have to learn and get better at because there is an interest in only treating animals.
We want to make sure, as a welfare issue, animals that are sick are treated and we want to make sure, just like in our human population, that our antibiotics are useful in those animals.

Dr. Detmer notes the reason we do things the way we do in modern commercial livestock production is to educe disease and protect the consumer because the consumer wants a wholesome and safe product.

Source: Farmscape