A Danish hog farmer toured several Iowa operations and attended the Practical Farmers of Iowa conference this past weekend as part of a campaign to cut the use of antibiotics in the raising of livestock. The tour was sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Pew spokesperson Gail Hansen, says 29-million pounds of antibiotics are given to food animals, while seven million pounds are given to people who’re sick.
“So about 80% of the antibiotics are given to food animals, and a lot of that is just for growth promotion, or to prevent diseases but not to treat diseases. So we’re trying to look at other ways to be better stewards of our antibiotics,” Hansen says. That’s where Kaj Munck comes in.
Munck stopped using antibiotics to promote growth and prevent diseases in his hog operation in 1992. Munck says there were a few adjustments at first, but now his operation runs with few problems. He says producers will have to get used to some adjustments.
Munck says on paper it will cost you more, but he says that is offset by results as the hogs produce bigger piglets and there are more live-born pigs. “Instead of 12 per liter, now we get 16 per liter, because the sow is better prepared to be pregnant again,” Munck says.
Hansen says the F.D.A. has recently taken action to restrict some of the antibiotic use in animals. She says they are hoping Munck’s example will allow producers to see it can be successfully done.