The issue under investigation is alternative methods to ensure the health of livestock intended for human consumption without the use broad use of antibiotics. The research question is this: Can we reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock by better identifying sick animals before infectious diseases spread? The thesis statement is therefore: Alternative methods, specifically the early identification of animals that are ill, could reduce or negate the widespread use of antibiotics in healthy animals in livestock intended for human consumption.

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It has long been known that the overuse of antibiotics both in human medicine and in livestock have created many problems, including antibiotic resistance bacteria (Novick 23). Animals raised without antibiotics are less likely to carry antibiotic resistant E. coli, for example (Milman, 155). Many people today prefer to eat meat which is organic or antibiotic and hormone free, however this puts livestock in a difficult situation as they must suffer illness, and it is difficult for the producer who faces lower yields of more sickly animals. Today technology has allowed for new methods of detection, including RFID tags and cameras that can detect temperature (Girbau et al. 3623). This could be useful in the early identification, quarantine and treatment with antibiotics of sick animals, allowing the other animals to exist antibiotic free. This may have advantages as consumers seem to prefer it, but it also ensure the human treatment of animals as sick animals are treated and healthy animals are not, unlike the status quo or alternative antibiotic free measures.

Summary of relevant study
A study by Milman and colleagues investigated antibiotic-resistant E. coli in poultry that was raised conventionally, organically, using kosher standards and without antibiotics. They found that the presence of antibiotic-resistant E. coli was lowest in animals raise without antibiotics, the same in organic and conventional chicken, and twice as high in kosher chickens. This indicates an opportunity to promote health with the reduced use of antibiotics.

  • Girbau, David, et al. “Passive wireless temperature sensor based on time-coded UWB chipless RFID tags.” Microwave Theory and Techniques, IEEE Transactions on 60.11 (2012): 3623-3632.
  • Millman, Jack M., et al. “Prevalence of antibiotic-resistant E. coli in retail chicken: comparing conventional, organic, kosher, and raised without antibiotics.” F1000Research 2 (2013): 155.
  • Novick, Richard P. “The Development And Spread Of Antibiotic‐Resistant Bacteria As A Consequence Of Feeding Antibiotics To Livestock” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 368.1 (1981): 23-60.