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Communicating the importance of antibiotics in livestock production

Continual changes in consumer demand, in reference to meat, are no secret. Two of the largest requests facing the industry are alterations in stewardship and antibiotic usage.

Cattlemen across the U.S. have worked to appease these demands, while others have not found the task to be an easy one.

The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) was created in an effort to unify various countries with the goal of maintaining a better understanding of sustainable beef. Ruaraidh Petre, an employee of GRSB, explains the variance of the twenty-five countries within the organization.

“When it comes to sustainability, there’s no one size fits all. There are lots of different beef production systems around the world and lots of environments. You can produce beef on the edge of the Sahara Desert, and you can produce it on the edge of the Arctic circle.

Petre discusses global challenges due to varying climates combined with disadvantageous animal husbandry practices.

“What we see is that countries of the developing world — so in Africa and Asia — now are home to 60% of the cattle in the world, but they’re only producing 30% of the meat. Those are clearly areas where we really need to work with the producers and the whole value chain to try to help them to become more efficient so that they can produce more meat with fewer animals.”

Misconceptions regarding livestock continue to interfere with production rates. Petre explains how antibiotics have played a large role in the U.S., but also in developing parts of the world.

“On the issue of antimicrobials, the consumer is told that it is possible and desirable to produce cattle without using antimicrobials. Now, we would argue strongly that that is not the case. It will make the production much more expensive and it will also mean that we can produce far less beef while still using the same amount of resources, and that is, in my mind, unsustainable.”

More talk of global antibiotic use will be available at the National Institute for Animal Agriculture’s ninth annual antibiotic symposium. The event will be held October 15th through 17th.

For more information regarding the event, or any questions relative to animal antibiotics, visit animalagriculture.org.

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