Myth: Antibiotics Are Used In Animal Agriculture To Cover Up For Unsanitary Conditions

Fact:

Numerous studies investigating the difference between conventional agriculture and organic production have found no difference in bacterial contamination between the farms or antibiotic resistance in the bacteria. [1]

Just like people, animals can get sick with illnesses like the flu, pneumonia, skin infections and more. Most pet owners have experienced the need to give their cats and dogs antibiotics to treat infections. Livestock and poultry are no different. Antibiotics are used for treatment and they’re used for prevention at times when a herd is at particular risk for infection. This often allows producers to use fewer antibiotics than if the whole herd got sick. In some cases antibiotics have been used as growth promotants, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) passed a guidance phasing out that use by 2016, and also increasing the involvement of veterinarians to prescribe antibiotics when needed.[2] 

Dig deeper...

Any farmer or rancher involved in animal agriculture has significant incentive to be good stewards to their animals and keep them in sanitary conditions that promote their health. After all, those animals are their livelihood.

Animals in any production system tend to live in herds or small groups, share water and feed troughs, and seek close contact with one another by licking, laying on each other and even rubbing snouts and noses. This can spread illnesses rapidly. Sometimes, veterinarians recommend using antibiotics to prevent diseases at times when livestock are particularly at risk, like during weaning from the mother or transportation. Swift, preventive and proactive actions often mean an animal will receive fewer antibiotics than they would have if they had not received a preventive dose.

See Also:
Myth: Antibiotic Use In Livestock Production Is Increasing And This Is A Human Health Risk
Myth: 80% of Antibiotics are Used in Animals
Myth: Antibiotics are Primarily Used for Growth Promotion
Myth: Animal Agriculture is the Biggest Contributor to Antibiotic Resistance
Myth: Antibiotics are Used in Animal Agriculture to Cover Up for Unsanitary Conditions

  1. Organic Agriculture: is it safer?
  2. FDA's Strategy on Antimicrobial Resistance - Questions and Answers