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Title: Beta-agonists and animal welfare

item Marchant, Jeremy
item POLETTO, ROSANGEL - Federal University Of Rio Grande Do Sul

Submitted to: American Association of Swine Veterinarians Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/28/2014
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The use of beta-agonists in animal feed is a high profile topic within the U.S. as consumers and activist groups continue to question its safety. The only beta-agonist currently available for use in swine is ractopamine hydrochloride (RAC). This is available as Paylean™ (Elanco Animal Health – FDA approval 1999) and Engain™ (Zoetis – FDA approval 2013), though availability of the latter is limited. The contentious nature of the use of RAC, and beta-agonists in general, as feed additives can be seen by the fact that RAC is banned in 122 countries, including the EU, Russia and China. RAC is, however, approved for use in 26 countries, including the US, Canada, Australia and Brazil. Although the major concerns of consumers may be more to do with aspects such as meat residues, environmental impacts and worker safety (see recent lawsuits submitted against the Commissioner of the FDA), the welfare of the pigs on the drug are also highlighted. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that beta-agonists do impact the behavior, physiology and health of the target animals in negative ways. Within the swine industry, ractopamine does make pigs more active and reactive, does increase aggression in gilts and, potentially, immunocastrated males, and does make them harder to handle and thus more susceptible to stress during handling and transportation. Educational efforts aimed at highlighting and reducing the impact of handling have helped to address some of these concerns.