• Cooper's CSA Farm

Hormone & Antibiotic Free; What’s the Hype?

The topic of the use of antibiotics & hormones in livestock for growth was a major issue over the last few years, however, it is slowly fading out of the spotlight as the public has been given more education on the subject. This topic was not introduced to the public by farmers, agriculture experts, vets, or anyone who actually works with livestock medication, it was used as a fear marketing tactic by really good sales men & women.

Fear Marketing: Fear appeal is a term used in psychology, sociology and marketing. It generally describes a strategy for motivating people to take a particular action, endorse a particular policy, or buy a particular product, by arousing fear.

In business & sales, their jobs are to SELL THE PRODUCT and MAKE MONEY. In most cases, the general public is not their concern, it is making that top dollar and getting commission, so, fear marketing is amazing at making these two things happen and unfortunately morals go out the window and industries, like agriculture, take the hit for that sales man/women making that beautiful commission off of the unknowing public. A&W is a perfect example of fear marketing towards agriculture.

Here at the farm, we have 3 graduates of Ridgetown Agriculture college, quite a few years of working with vets and livestock medications, and we are also keeping up with current education and proper handling of livestock treatment.

THE CFIA (The Canadian Food Inspection Association), OMAFRA (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, food & Rural Affairs), CVMA (Canadian Veterinarian Medical Association) Canada Beef, Chicken Farmers of Canada, Turkey Farmers of Canada, All livestock Breeder Boards and the list goes on! These are only some of the national boards in Canada that strictly enforces the proper use of livestock medication, oh and there are also provincial boards constantly checking up on farms too. To be honest….it is hard as farmers to acquire medication, there are a lot of steps and rules to abide by.

The myth of farmers pumping their animals with antibiotics & hormones for growth is very silly, and here’s why.

- Farmers are prescribed medication and dosage by veterinarians, often times it’s the vet that comes and treats animals.

- Growth hormones for poultry were banned in Canada in the early 40’s, so yeah… big myth. However they are approved in beef cattle.

- Antibiotics are used the same way humans use them, as a preventative measure (like the flu shot), or only when an animal is sick.

- Withdrawal period: Animals cannot be sent out during their withdrawal period after receiving antibiotics. Animals that test positive for having antibiotic still in their system are not accepted by processors as HUGE FINES will hit them if they do. There are CFIA inspectors that look at every animal in processing plants.

- Traceability & Records: Farmers have to keep records of all medication administered to their animals; when, dosage, reason. They also have ear tags and flock numbers so their animals can be traced back to their farm if there is antibiotics found.

All living creatures have naturally occurring hormones, so animals will NEVER be “hormone free”, they can however be, added growth hormone free. This term we still use loosely as even if the cows were given the ‘teeny tiny’ growth hormone implant, it has to be out of their system before going to processors, or the farmer is in trouble. Canada still allows the use of growth hormones in beef, why ? The public wanted cheaper beef, so growth hormones allow farmers to use less feed, which lowers production costs, which means beef cost less. SO what will the public choose, a little higher price for beef, or no growth hormones… hmm interesting. Growth hormones aren’t that popular for farmers anyways as they can be costly, and they tend to be only sensible for very large ranches and feed lots with thousands of cattle.

FUN FACT: A glass of beer and a head of cabbage have a crazy amount of hormones compared to a cut of beef. Visit Beef Farmers of Ontario or Farm and Food Care for more fun facts and more about Ontario’s use of livestock medications.

Our farm does not use growth hormones, we aren’t pressed for time and we can’t financially justify the extra cost. There are so many small beef farms across Ontario that sell beef right from their farm, there is a much higher chance of these cattle being raised without growth hormones if you are interested in that. Visit Ontario Farm Fresh to find a list of farms all over Ontario.

So in-conclusion:

- Fear marketing sucks. Learn to be opened minded and to acquire a lot of research on a topic before making a final decision. Don’t be one of those “I read ONE article so I know…”

- Livestock farmers in Canada have A LOT of rules to follow when it comes to livestock medication, they can’t get away with anything! (insert pouting child meme)

- Canada has one of the safest processing procedures in the world.

- Canadian Agriculture is one of the only countries that listens to its consumers and will adjust according to their interests and concerns.

- There is a tonne of information on the use of antibiotics and growth hormones in Canadian agriculture, so you can have a bank of knowledge for a final opinion on the subject.

As we get this question a lot….No we don’t use growth hormones, No we are not against those who do if they use them properly, Yes we use antibiotics to treat sick animals and prevent diseases.

Just another little Farm for thought for you all!

-The Coopers.

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