Food-Production Antibiotic Use Rises With Animal Population

It seems livestock and poultry producers can’t get away from antibiotic use totally as the US Food and Drug Administration last week released data showing last year’s antibiotic use rose with the populations of cattle and hogs.

The “2014 Summary Report on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals” shows domestic sales and distribution of antibiotics for food-producing animals increased 22% from 2009 through 2014 and rose 4% from 2013 through 2014.

Between 2013 and 2014, US cattle inventories rose 2.4% to 89.8 million head from 87.7 million.  At the same time, US hog and pig inventories rose 7.1% to 65.9 million from 61.5 million.  Together, US inventories of red meat producing animals rose about 4.3%, while broiler inventories were about flat.




Some other key items in the FDA report included:

  • 2014 domestic sales and distribution of medically important antimicrobials accounted for 62% of all antimicrobials approved for use in food-producing animals.
  • Domestic sales and distribution of medically important antimicrobials approved for use in food-producing animals rose 23% from 2009 through 2014 and increased by 3% from 2013 through 2014.
  • Lincosamide sales showed the greatest percentage increase in domestic sales from 2009 through 2014, rising 150%.  Lincosamides prevent bacteria from replicating by interfering with the synthesis of proteins.
  • Sales of sulfa drugs had the greatest percentage domestic sales increase from 2013 through 2014, rising 18%.  Sulfa drugs inhibit growth and multiplication of bacteria but do not kill them.
  • The percentage of medically important antibiotics approved for animal production decreased to 68% from 72% from 2009 through 2012 but held steady at 72% from 2013 through 2014.  Meat-production use of these products us set to drop next year when the FDA’s rules about the use of medically important antibiotics kicks in.
  • Over-the-counter sales of medically important antimicrobials did not change appreciably from 2009 through 2014, going from 98% to 97%, but is expected to decline significantly in 2017 when FDA rules will end OTC sales and make them veterinarian-prescribed.




The FDA cautioned against comparing data for animal production against sales of antibiotics for human use.  Such comparisons can be misleading.

The number of humans compared with the much larger number of animals in the US means antibiotic sales for animal use will be much larger.  Plus, there are differences in the physical characteristics of humans and animals such as weight and physiology.

In addition, animal sales and distribution data are not reported to the FDA by each use indication so the FDA is not able to distinguish uses.  A direct comparison of antimicrobial sales for certain human and animal uses is not possible.




Cash cattle markets this week have been down $1 per cwt at mostly $117 to $118 on a live basis.  Dressed-basis prices this week range from $183 to $184, down about $4 from last week.

The USDA Wednesday reported its choice beef cutout value at $196.90 per cwt, down $0.31 from Tuesday.  The USDA’s select cutout was $184.91, off $1.90.  The choice/select spread widened to $11.99 from $10.40 on Tuesday, and there were 121 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The USDA said ribs, rounds and loins were steady to weak while chucks were lower.  Trimmings were mostly moderately lower in light demand and heavy offerings.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Tuesday was $155.10 per cwt, down $0.12.  This compares with the Jan settlement Wednesday of $147.70, down $0.82.