08/01/2010 - Denmark is to hogs in Europe what Iowa is in the United States. So the Danes can provide lessons for U.S. farmers and the Obama administration when it comes to restricting the use of antibiotics on hog farms.
The nation banned the use of antibiotics for growth promotion in hogs in the 1990s, a step that the Obama administration is proposing for U.S. farms. That move cut antibiotic use by 40 percent. Denmark next halted the use of antibiotics for anything other than treating ill animals. Farms could no longer give antibiotics to young pigs to prevent them from getting ill, a practice that became common decades ago in the United States and Europe as pigs were weaned earlier so farms could get as many litters as possible from their sows.
The second restriction resulted in an actual increase in total antibiotic use as farmers found themselves treating more sick pigs, a fact that's often cited by the U.S. industry in arguing against restrictions on the drugs' use.
Danish farmers have been forced to make changes in their operations, including keeping newborn pigs with their mothers for a week longer, to try to protect them from getting ill.
"When the ban came I was very much against it," Munck said at a briefing for congressional aides arranged by the Pew on Human Health and Industrial Farming, an advocacy group. "Now, I think it's one of the best things that has happened to the Danish farmers. Today it's more interesting taking care of pigs."
Read the full article, Farmers in Denmark Adjust to Livestock Antibiotic Ban on the Des Moines Register's Web site.