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Raising Animals Without Antibiotics: U.S. Producer and Veterinarian Experiences and Opinions

By Randall S. Singer, Leah J. Porter, Daniel U. Thomson, Mallory Gage, Amanda Beaudoin, Jennifer K. Wishnie

Category Journal Articles

Ensuring the safety, health, and overall well-being of animals raised for food is both an
ethical obligation and a critical component of providing safe food products. The use of
antibiotics for maintaining animal health has come under scrutiny in recent years due to
the rise of antibiotic resistance globally. Some U.S. producers, especially in the poultry
industry, have responded by eliminating their antibiotic use. The number of animals
raised without antibiotics (RWA) is growing in the U.S., but there are concerns that RWA
practices might negatively impact animal health and welfare. Therefore, the objective
of this study was to survey U.S. veterinarians and producers about their experiences
and opinions regarding RWA production. Veterinarians, farmers, ranchers, producers,
and other stakeholders involved in raising broilers, turkeys, swine, beef cattle or dairy
cattle were surveyed. Of the 565 completed responses received, 442 self-reported as
practicing veterinarians or producers. Just over half of respondents reported having past
or current experience with RWA programs. Themain indicated reasons for raising animals
without antibiotics were market driven; switching to RWA production was less commonly
made for health-related reasons, such as to reduce antibiotic resistance or to improve
animal health and welfare. Although respondents felt that RWA production has negative
impacts on animal health and welfare, they overwhelmingly (>70%) indicated that the
customer (retailer/restaurant/food service) believes that animal and health welfare will
be significantly improved. Veterinarians and producers indicated that RWA programs
will increase production costs with questionable effect on meat, egg or dairy consumer
demand. Many respondents felt that there are times when the RWA label takes priority
over animal health and welfare. Respondents generally felt that there was a need for
increased auditing/assessment of animal health and welfare in RWA systems.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2019
Publication Title Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Volume 6
Pages 13
DOI 10.3389/fvets.2019.00452
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Agriculture
  2. Animal welfare
  3. Antibiotics
  4. Livestock
  5. open access
  6. Veterinarians
  1. open access