- Animal Production: animal protection and health
The 2011-2014 NESARE PDP program “Grass-fed All Year Long” addressed processing capacity shortages by promoting year round breeding of beef cattle that would result in year round slaughter and processing. This proposed 2014-2017 program is responding to issues raised during the prior three years. The goal of this tri-state SARE PDP plan is to create a sustainable meat production system in Southern New England. 2013- 2014 training focused on soil, forage and animal health issues. Training programs about teaching animals to eat weeds led to increased questions about soil health and appropriate forage for beef animals. At the same time there has been greater national discussion about uses of drugs, including antibiotics in food animal production systems.
The project developed an assessment questionnaire that surveyed 110 agricultural service providers, veterinarians, and university educators on the topic of Drug Use in Food Animal Production-- Judicious and alternative uses of drugs in livestock health. Of the 44 respondents, 37 (84%) stated that agricultural service providers and farmers need education about the use of drugs/antibiotics in food animal production. 32 respondents also indicated they are receiving questions in their work about this topic from consumers, farmers, educators and service providers, and 33 (75%) said that they would likely attend workshops. In meetings with NRCS personnel, they also have committed to involving their staff in training programs.
Analysis of responses about specific topics showed that the respondents considered the following educational topics essential:
- Insuring adequate drug protocols to treat sick animals
- Possible alternatives to current practices of drug use such as to; reduce stress, increase exercise, change diet, different management systems
- Government regulations proposed for uses of drugs/antibiotics/hormones
The intent of the 2014-2017 project is to offer specific trainings for agricultural service providers on these topics so that they are able to educate farmers on how they can prevent disease and treat sick animals.
Performance targets from proposal:
8 agricultural service providers will deliver educational programs about: protocols to keep animals healthy; production systems to reduce drug use in livestock; and new regulations on the use of drugs in food animals to 100 CT, MA and RI farmers with 1,500 animals. An additional 48 agricultural service providers will deliver information to farmers about current drug use in food animals, proposed regulation changes, and production systems that may not require drugs and antibiotics.