The Truth About Antibiotics in Milk

milk in a bottleConsumers are increasingly worried about what they eat and drink. One of the main concerns is if there are antibiotics present in milk. I, and dairy farmers in the U.S., can guarantee that there are NO antibiotics present in the milk we buy from the grocery store. How? Let me tell you.

 

Testing

The FDA has strict rules about antibiotic residues, because of this milk is tested multiple times. At the farm and on the truck. If there are even trace amounts of antibiotics found on one tractor-trailer of milk, the entire truckload will be discarded. If this happens the farm has to pay upwards of $10,000 for the discarded milk. There is also a time period where the milk at the farm will not be picked up until the FDA has inspected the farm and ran tests.

So antibiotics in milk is detrimental to one farmer’s bank account, but also to their reputation and to other farmers. Most tractor-trailers transport milk from multiple farms, so it’s not just one person’s livelihood being thrown away, it’s multiple. This is incentive for farmers to test their own milk at the farm and follow protocol to prevent antibiotic residues.

On-farm prevention

cow udder

Cow being milked at Gilmer Dairy Farm

There are also protocols on individual dairy farms that prevent antibiotics from getting in our milk supply. Detailed records must be kept so that all employees know which cows are receiving antibiotics. Those cows are then milked into a separate tank, sometimes called a dump tank, for a specific period of time. That time frame is called the withdrawal period, or how long it takes medicine to leave an animal’s system.

All farmers follow the posted withdrawal period to make sure that the antibiotic is completely out of their system before they put the milk in the regular tank. Some farmers even wait a few more days just to be safe and then run a test to check for antibiotic residues. Dairy farmers drink the milk the produce, just like you do, so they want it to be as safe as possible for their families and yours.

Why use antibiotics?

Cow udder with mastitis

Cow udder with mastitis.

You may be wondering if it is so much work, time and potential money why even use antibiotics. Well because farmers love their cows and want them to be happy and healthy If you or your child is sick what do you do? Usually you go to the doctor and get antibiotics. Why? Because you don’t want to be sick anymore. The same is true for these cows. The dairy farmer would much rather put in the effort to milk into separate tanks and test for antibiotic residue than see their cows in terrible pain from a treatable disease.

One common disease that occurs in dairy cattle is mastitis. Mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary gland in the udder, typically due to bacterial infection. The only way to treat mastitis is through antibiotics. Respiratory diseases are also common and can be fatal if left untreated.

You don’t have to worry about antibiotics being in the milk we buy from the grocery store, the FDA and dairy farmers make sure that’s not a problem.

The Truth about the Humane Society of the United States

If you are friends on social media with any farmers, ranchers, hunters, outdoor enthusiasts, or anything of that nature. You may have seen a frenzy of angry and upset posts about a recent occurrence. The Original Muck Boot Company shared a photo on Facebook about a fundraiser they were doing for the Humane Society of the United States. This caused an uproar in the agriculture and hunting communities, and resulted in #WhatTheMuck.

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Muck has since posted a response to this issue, so for some this issue is resolved for others it isn’t, but that is not the reason for this blog post. 

Some people may wonder, why would people freak out about a company donating money to help save puppies and kittens, they must be heartless. But the truth is trying to save puppies and kittens isn’t all that HSUS does, actually it is a very small part of it. Between 2009-2011 the “non-profit” collected more than $509 million, and gave away $27 million to grants and organizations in the United States, which is about 5%. Watch this video for more info. This would be all well and good, if HSUS didn’t present themselves as helping animals via commercialsRescued Stray Cats Wait To Be Adopted

People assume that because of the name, that their $19 a month goes directly to help animals, just like their local shelter does, but really where the money goes is lobbying against “animal cruelty”, in a backhanded way. 

Rapid City Journal did some research and found that HSUS credits itself with passing 470 state laws between 2004-2010, and 121 new laws in 2009 alone. Alright, so not only does HSUS not really help the pitiful animals in their commercials, they pass laws. So what? 

Well the way some/most of those laws are phrased directly affect/limit agriculture, while trying to hide behind the guise of helping animals. One law they proposed in Alabama in 2008, was a law to end cockfighting. This sounded like a wonderful thing to support, until further investigation, where it was discovered that by the wording of the bill any farmer with two or more roosters that could fight would be accused of cockfighting, fined and shut down. Therefore the poultry industry, a large sector of the Alabama economy, would be limited. Farmers got together and formed the Coalition for Farm Animal Care and Well-Being and prevented this law from being passed. 

UnknownAnother law HSUS lobbied for was Proposition 2 in California; which states that egg laying chickens must be free ranging for a certain amount of time, which is going to drive up the cost of egg production and possibly drive the egg industry out of California.

That is the reason so many agriculturalists exploded about HSUS receiving money, because giving money to HSUS could be synonymous with losing our farms and everything we love, live, and dedicate our life to, the agriculture industry. 

If you want to actually help animals donate money, food, or time to your local humane society where it is guaranteed that your money will help animals. 

I hope now that you know the truth about The Humane Society of the United States you either don’t feel guilty about not donating money to HSUS, or you choose to stop donating to HSUS if you have been.