Jean L Clavelle
Farm Animal Council of Saskatchewan
Growth hormones. Dirty nasty words aren’t they? I’m sorry to bring this up but I think it’s something we need to talk about.
Many of us in Canada, well North America, are so extremely fortunate we live in a place where getting enough to eat is not generally a problem and where we have the choice to make decisions on what we consume. We have the opportunity to choose where our food comes from and how it’s produced regardless of cost. Fortunate indeed.
And with this providence, it seems to have become almost admirable to deride those who do not choose foods of a certain variety ie “natural” “ethically raised” “antibiotic free” and “hormone free”. Now I would like to assure those of you who can’t or don’t make these food choices despite pressure from your peers or social media, that the food grown in Canada is safe and healthy including beef produced with the use of hormones. Here’s my attempt at explaining why.
First what are growth hormones and how do they work? Growth hormones are tiny pellets inserted into the back of the ear of a beef animal which slowly releases synthetic hormones over a period of several months. These hormones mimic the natural reproductive hormones manufactured by the animal. To make a long physiology discussion short, they encourage protein deposition and discourage fat deposition. This improves both weight gain and feed conversion (the amount of feed required to deposit muscle). Fat deposition requires more than twice as much feed as protein deposition does. Muscle tissue contains about 70% water while fat contains less than 30% water. This means that for every ten pounds of muscle gained, about three pounds comes from dry feed and seven pounds comes from water. This ratio is the reversed for fat growth – roughly seven pounds from dry feed and three pounds from water. So you can see, that with slight increases in protein deposition and slight decreases in fat deposition that there are pretty big differences in the amount of feed required.
Posted by Farm and Food Care on September 30th, 2014 :: Filed under Agriculture Education,Beef cattle,Canada,Education and public awareness,Food safety,growth hormone
Tags :: beef, cattle, growth hormone, misconceptions