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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Livestock Issues Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #302322

Research Project: Improving Immunity, Health, and Well-Being in Cattle and Swine

Location: Livestock Issues Research

Title: Antibiotic use in livestock production

item Broadway, Paul - Texas Tech University
item Carroll, Jeffery - Jeff Carroll
item Callaway, Todd

Submitted to: Agriculture, Food and Analytical Bacteriology
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/25/2014
Publication Date: 3/15/2014
Citation: Broadway, P.R., Carroll, J.A., Callaway, T.R. 2014. Antibiotic use in livestock production. Agriculture, Food and Analytical Bacteriology. 4:76-85.

Interpretive Summary: Antibiotics are an important part of agriculture and food production originating from the cattle, swine, poultry, and aquaculture industries, and much research has been conducted to determine the efficacy and safety of these pharmaceuticals. These compounds are used not only to treat disease, but can also be used effectively as a prophylactic treatment. Such strategies to control pathogens in food-producing animals may, in some cases, improve growth performance parameters while simultaneously promoting the overall health of the animal. Thus, antibiotics are a critical player in the profitability of agriculture in the U.S. and throughout the world and play a vital role in feeding the ever growing world population. However, an ever changing population and shifts in consumer demand have placed pressure on the agricultural industry and governments to reduce and/or eliminate the use of antibiotics in food production. While this potential change could possibly be detrimental to current management strategies, there are potential alternatives to antibiotics that have been extensively researched in livestock to promote health, performance, profitability, and food safety.

Technical Abstract: Antibiotic usage is a useful and commonly implemented practice in livestock and production agriculture that has progressively gained attention in recent years from consumers of animal products due to concerns about human and environmental health. Sub-therapeutic usage of antibiotics has led to a concern that prophylactic supplementation leads to antimicrobial resistance, and this particular practice has come under public scrutiny. The consumer and media misconceptions about antibiotic usage and production strategies utilized in livestock production have caused a shift in consumer demands. Antibiotics directly and indirectly affect the livestock industry by treating illness and promoting the overall health of the animal, which may enhance production parameters such as growth and profitability. However, pending legislation threatens to eliminate the current antibiotic usage strategies implemented by producers. This review will address the historical and current use of antibiotics as it pertains to production animal agriculture to summarize how antibiotics promote animal health and growth performance.