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Denmark shows effect of banning growth promoting antimicrobial use in cattle

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Today’s post comes to us courtesy of the Beef Cattle Research Council. To see the full article and others go to BeefResearch.ca

Jean L Clavelle


Denmark shows effect of banning growth promoting antimicrobial use in cattle

Antimicrobial resistance has become a highly charged issue.  Headlines appear in the news on a regular basis suggesting that antibiotics are becoming less effective in humans and farmers are to blame.

Some concerns have been raised that antimicrobial use in livestock leads to antimicrobial resistance and that some of the products used in food animals are closely related to antimicrobials that are important in human health. It’s also been questioned whether antimicrobial resistance can be transferred among bacteria, which may reduce effectiveness of drugs used in human medicine.

Of course the Canadian beef industry is also concerned about antimicrobial resistance.  Cattlemen depend on the effectiveness of animal health products, and on consumers’ confidence in how beef is raised and the safety of the beef they consume.  And just like the rest of the society, farmers need human drugs to be effective too.

We’re all in agreement on the seriousness of antimicrobial use and resistance.

Several nations around the world have surveillance programs in place to monitor trends in antimicrobial use and resistance.  In Canada, this is led by the Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance (CIPARS). In the United States, surveillance is conducted by the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS).  These programs test for antimicrobial resistance in healthy animals arriving at slaughter plants as well as retail meat samples. In addition, various groups including the Beef Cattle Research Council and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada collect more detailed antimicrobial use and resistance information in a broader range of microbes and locations (e.g. feedlots, manure, soil, water).

To date, scientific surveillance has indicated that:graph 1 antibiotic resistance PIC

  • Resistance to antimicrobials that are most important in human health is extremely uncommon in healthy North American cattle and beef.
  • Multi-drug resistance is similarly low, and is not increasing.
  • In cattle, the vast majority of antimicrobials used are not used in human health at all.

Let’s look more closely at the last point. The vast majority of antimicrobials used in cattle are ionophores.   Ionophores act on rumen microbes; they selectively inhibit methanogenic bacteria and allow beneficial rumen bacteria to make more feed energy available to the animal, thereby improving feed efficiency and weight gain.  Ionophores also prevent diseases like coccidiosis.

Ionophores have no benefit to, nor are they licensed for use in humans. Even if microbes developed resistance to ionophores, this would not make them resistant to classes of antimicrobials that are used in human medicine.

Eliminating antimicrobial growth promotants, including ionophores, in cattle production would substantially reduce the overall use of antimicrobials, but would that reduce concerns about antimicrobial resistance?

Denmark phased out the use of those products in livestock production between 1994 and 1999.  Since 2001, we can see a clear trend of increased use of prescribed veterinary antimicrobials. The decrease in antimicrobial use has happened in the “medium importance” category, antimicrobials rarely used in human medicine anymore.  Without the use of growth promoting antimicrobials, the need for antimicrobials that are important to human health increased. In addition, there has been no clear trend towards decreased antimicrobial resistance in Danish cattle or beef.

Canadian research has repeatedly shown that antimicrobials are used responsibly by Canadian beef producers, and resistance to the most important classes of antibiotics in human medicine remains extremely rare in beef cattle. Antimicrobial resistance will continue to be a research priority in Canada’s beef industry to maintain or improve current prudence.

Continued use of antimicrobials of no importance to human health in Canadian beef production will be critical to the future competitiveness of and reduced environmental impacts by Canada’s beef sector due to improved feed efficiency and reduced animal disease.  Furthermore, the consequences of a ban on ionophores in Denmark suggest that discontinuing the use of such products would not lead to lower antimicrobial resistance, and may increase the use of antimicrobials that are important in human medicine.

To learn more about antimicrobial use and resistance in Canadian cattle and beef, visit http://www.beefresearch.ca/research-topic.cfm/antimicrobial-resistance-11


Posted by FACS on April 28th, 2014 :: Filed under Agriculture Education,antibiotics,Beef cattle,Canada,Education and public awareness,Research,Uncategorized
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An Animal Lover Turned Farmer - Kendra Leslie

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By Andrew Campbell

(Paisley) - Kendra Leslie grew up in rural Ontario, but didn’t grow up on a farm. Instead, she was an animal lover who was always curious as to what a farm life was like. She was so interested in agriculture, that she took a job with a nearby pig farmer when she was still in high school. What started out as a part-time job on weekends and in the summer months, quickly turned into a passion. Graduating in agriculture from the Ridgetown campus of the University of Guelph, Kendra is now a full-time caretaker of a sow herd for an Ontario pig farmer.

Kendra Leslie feels at home in rural Ontario.

Kendra Leslie feels at home in rural Ontario.

A sow is a female pig old enough to give birth to piglets and Kendra spends her days at work caring for those mother pigs and their piglets. “Every day is different, which is something I love about my job, ” says Kendra. “From feeding the sows to checking every animal in the barn to ensure they are eating properly and are healthy, we take the care of each one very seriously.”

But that’s only one of her daily chores. Kendra’s also responsible for weighing piglets to ensure they remain healthy, checking expectant mothers with an ultrasound and ensuring that any sows that have recently given birth are doing well.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on April 24th, 2014 :: Filed under Agricultural Advocates,Animal care,animal handling,Education and public awareness,Pigs
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Even Livestock are Getting in on the Tech Craze

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Jean L Clavelle

RFID 2 PICAccording to StatsCan as of January 1, 2021 there are over 12 million beef and dairy cattle, almost 900,000 sheep and lambs, and nearly 250,000 bison in Canada.   Which is a lot of animals.  Bet you didn’t know that each and every one of those animals can be identified by its own unique number (much like our own Social Insurance Number).  The next question might be why…?  Why would livestock need to have their own number?

Well it is simple really.  With individual animal numbers we are able to easily track where any one animal came from in Canada.  The ability to identify animals and their origins during an animal health or food safety emergency is paramount to the success of the response operation and the protection of human and animal health.  Meaning it gives us the ability to prevent the spread of disease and further, to eradicate disease as it arises - to protect not only Canadian livestock but consumers and customers as well.

It was initiated in 1998 by beef and dairy industry leaders who recognized the importance of protecting our national herd and assuring consumer confidence which lead to the establishment of a national identification program.  On January 1, 2021 the Government of Canada passed regulations for compulsory animal identification for both cattle and bison. The Canadian Sheep Identification Program (CSIP) followed suit with its own industry-led trace-back system introduced in 2004 applicable to all ovine animals in Canada.


Posted by FACS on April 14th, 2014 :: Filed under Agriculture Education,Animal health,Beef cattle,Bison,Dairy cattle,Sheep,Traceability,Uncategorized
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How to make research papers less painful – from a former university student

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By Kristen Kelderman, Farm & Food Care Animal Care Coordinator

It wasn’t that long ago that I was a kid in school (although maybe I’m humouring myself here). But when it came to midterms and the end of semester, I vividly remember being buried in an endless overload of papers that I had procrastinated writing. Obviously this was my own self-inflicted pain; I was the only one to blame for staying up all hours of the night to write that last concluding paragraph.

LivestockWelfare.com is a Canadian farm animal welfare resource centre.  The four Farm Animal Care Councils have come together to provide information to those looking for accurate information and research on how farm animals are raised in Canada.

LivestockWelfare.com is a Canadian farm animal welfare resource centre.
The four Farm Animal Care Councils have come together to provide information to those looking for accurate information and research on how farm animals are raised in Canada.

As I wrote paper after paper, I would get into the groove of essay writing. It’s quite rhythmic when you think about it: pick your topic, decide your position and make a plan of attack by developing your thesis and supporting points. And then comes the most cumbersome part of essay writing - research and providing references. This was how I would tackle essay writing.

Searching endless sites for peer-reviewed journal articles on the internet and flipping through books in the library seemed like a colossal waste of time. Reading through countless abstracts only to find that you had to pay for the journal article was monotonous and frustrating. Depending on the topic it could be very difficult to find the exact information I was looking for. Looking back now, I wish I had known about www.livestockwelfare.com.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on April 7th, 2014 :: Filed under Uncategorized

Three generations working together on Barrie egg farm

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Harry's been farming since he was 15, but his grandson Colton has him beat. He's been helping on his family's egg farm since he was four.

Harry’s been farming since he was 15, but his grandson Colton has him beat. He’s been helping his family on their three generation egg farm since he was four.


By Pat Grotenhuis

(Innisfil) - Like many children his age, ten-year-old Colton Wohlgemuth enjoys playing hockey and baseball. Unlike many of his friends, though, he also has been helping on his family’s egg farm since he was four.

Wohlgemuth enjoys having the chance to work alongside his parents, grandparents and sisters on the family’s egg farm. His grandfather, Harry Eisses, is proud of the fact that three generations of his family are now involved in the business.

“It was always a family farm, and when our daughter and son-in-law came back to work with us it was thrilling,” says Eisses.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on April 4th, 2014 :: Filed under Uncategorized