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Top Benefits and Uses of Antibiotics in Livestock

Top Benefits and Uses of Antibiotics in Livestock

Antibiotics are any of a large group of chemical substances, such as penicillin or streptomycin, produced by various microorganisms and fungi, having the capacity in dilute solutions to inhibit the growth of or to destroy bacteria and other microorganisms, used chiefly in the treatment of infectious diseases among livestock.

Antibiotics have been around for a very long time and have helped prevent and control a lot of diseases in humans and farm animals alike. The usage of antibiotics in farm animals is quite heavy and widespread, and has been a typical practice of farmers in North America and Europe for quite some time. For example, in the U.S alone, more than eight billion chickens are processed each year and most beef, pork, poultry consumed by humans contains small amounts of antibiotics

There are four broad categories of animal antibiotics use:

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1. Treatment of disease

Antibiotics are given to treat an animal with a diagnosed illness. As part of the effort to produce poultry meat and eggs as economically as possible, it is common practice to maintain broilers, turkeys, and laying hens in large flocks in one location. From 10,000 to 20,000 broilers are typically raised in one house, and some operations have as many as a million laying hens in one location. With such a concentration of birds it is essential to have disease control programs that will prevent disastrous losses to the poultry industry. Drugs, including antibiotics, have played a major role in maintaining the health of poultry flocks since the 1950’s.

Because all uses of antimicrobial drugs, in both humans and animals, contribute to the development of antimicrobial resistance, it is important to use these drugs only when medically necessary.

2. Containment of disease outbreak

Antibiotics can be given to control the spread of an illness on a farm or ranch in the face of an outbreak. Livestock and poultry farmers aim to raise all animals in conditions that promote their health, from fresh water and nutritious feed to clean living conditions. While some products, like organic products and those that make a ‘no antibiotics’ claim, may create the impression that animal antibiotics were not needed, the fact is, animals in all production systems become sick at some time, just like all people do.

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3. Prevention of disease transmission

Because livestock and poultry share water and feed troughs and seek close contact with one another by licking, laying on each other and even rubbing snouts and noses, illnesses can spread rapidly. Sometimes, veterinarians recommend using antibiotics to prevent diseases at times when livestock are particularly at risk, like during weaning from the mother. Swift, preventive actions often mean a livestock will receive fewer antibiotics than they would have if they had not received a preventive dose.

4. Promotion of growth

Livestock producers routinely give antibiotics to animals to make them grow faster or help them survive crowded, stressful, and unsanitary conditions.

The use of some antibiotics can destroy certain bacteria in the gut and help livestock and poultry convert feed to muscle more quickly causing more rapid growth.

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Antibiotics are added to the animal feed or drinking water of cattle, hogs, poultry and other food-producing animals to help them gain weight faster or use less food to gain weight.

Like people, animals become ill and can develop conditions similar to common human infections like pneumonia, skin infections and others. Most pet owners have experienced the need to give their cats and dogs antibiotics to treat infections. Livestock and poultry are no different. Not providing animal antibiotics when needed would harm a sick animal’s well-being and could cause a more widespread infection in other animals in a home, herd or flock.

Conclusion

The management procedures used in today’s poultry production have made it possible to provide poultry meat and eggs for consumers very economically. In fact, until very recently the prices of broilers and eggs were similar to those 25 years ago despite a decrease in the value of the dollar through inflation. It is unlikely that future changes in management will result in any reduction in the concentration of poultry. Changes will probably involve upgrading of physical facilities for maintaining the birds, including environmentally controlled housing and the adoption of more automated equipment in the feeding and management of the birds.

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Featured photo credit: Ranva via pixabay.com

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Deborah Belford

Freelance journalist

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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