Intensive animal farming is the process of raising animals for meat, eggs, dairy, or other products in a way that is designed to maximize production and minimize costs. The approach is also known as industrial livestock production or macro-farming.
Intensive animal farming is a major contributor to the increasing use of antibiotics. These drugs are used to keep farm animals healthy and grow faster. They are also used as a preventive measure against infectious diseases. However, overuse of antibiotics in factory farms is a contributory factor to the rising levels of resistance to antibiotics in humans and other species.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed antimicrobial resistance as one of the ten global threats to human health. It is projected that by 2050, 10 million people could die from treatment-resistant bacteria. In addition, the WHO has released guidelines on the use of medically important antimicrobials in food-producing animals.
The use of antibiotics in intensive animal farming is also a problem because it creates a “perfect breeding ground” for bacterial diseases. The toxicity of antibiotics leads to an increase in heavy-duty microbes, which can cause disease in humans.
The misuse of antibiotics in intensive animal farming is particularly bad for the environment because it creates a huge waste stream. The waste of farmed animals is often stored in huge open air cesspools, which are frequently poorly engineered. The wastewater is contaminated with antibiotic residues.
The use of antibiotics in intensive farming can also spread resistant bacterial strains, which can cross-contaminate humans. These strains can be carried to other countries, where they can cause zoonotic diseases.
The World Health Organization warned in 2014 that the world was approaching an era of ‘post-antibiotics’, in which a new era of infectious diseases would result in a lack of effective treatment. In addition, antibiotics may be absorbed by rivers or coastal waters.
The WHO Advisory Group on Integrated Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance regularly updates its list of the “critically important” antimicrobials for humans. It recommends that routine use of antibiotics in factory farms be stopped, as it is a contributor to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Boosting growth rates in animals has been a boon to livestock producers and consumers alike. Despite the potential benefits of the hormones, there have been some concerns about their effects on human health.
Some of these concerns are similar to those associated with synthetic hormones. Several studies have been conducted to determine the real chances of harm from hormone residues. The FDA has set a tolerance for the presence of growth hormones in food.
There is a debate over whether the use of these hormones in beef production is beneficial to consumers. There are claims that the hormones reduce feed consumption and promote growth. Regardless of these claims, the meat produced from hormone-free animals is always more expensive.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has conducted random sampling of beef to ensure that its products are safe for consumers. The agency also collects data on dietary intake of animal products. Its Agricultural Research Service has compiled a database of consumer-only dietary intake rates for several types of animal products.
The National Residue Program is a federal initiative tasked with evaluating the presence of three hormones in meat: zeranol, melengestrol acetate, and testosterone. The program has not examined the more elusive TBA. However, the product has been recognized as a worthy prize in the beef industry’s quest for greater global consumer trust.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of several growth promoting hormones in beef production. These chemicals are believed to boost growth rates, promote healthy growth, and enhance the efficiency of animal production. Some studies have found that there are measurable growth promoting effects from these chemicals. In addition, the hormones are thought to help reduce the amount of reactive nitrogen loss and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the processing of meat.
Compounds that force animals to mature
Intensive animal farming has a long list of detractors. From the public health and welfare perspective, the shady business is not only a moral hazard, but also a tax on the wallet. While there is a federal government compensation program in place, it is not a panacea. If anything, the program is a drag on the quality of life and a breeding ground for zoonotic diseases.
While it is hard to deny that the intensive animal farm industry is no longer a novelty, the long term viability of these operations remains in doubt. While the most efficient farms continue to exist, the dwindling number of small scale operators have to compete with the ever increasing number of large scale operations. The scalability challenge is not just about finding the right personnel, but also about maintaining a steady flow of capital and technology. Luckily, there are many organizations whose mission is to provide a platform for community minded farmers to network and share information. Some of the organizations have forged partnerships with universities and other tertiary institutions to help educate their constituents.
Intensive animal farming is in no small part a product of the agribusiness industry’s misplaced ethos. Among the industry’s top tier players, a single farmer in the United Kingdom may be in charge of more than 84,000 animals. This is a number that will only grow with time.
Intensive animal farming operations generate high levels of pollution, including endotoxins, which may have health effects. This presentation will review current research on endotoxins in animal nutrition, focusing on the challenges facing both the animal and human health sectors.
Livestock farm emissions involve complex mixtures of gases and particles, primarily ammonia, which contribute to secondary particulate matter. These gases and particles can lead to respiratory health effects, including asthma and allergic reactions.
The effects of airborne exposures to livestock farm emissions have been investigated in several epidemiological studies. A paradoxical relationship exists between increased risk of non-IgE-mediated respiratory disease and living in a livestock dense environment. This has been reported to occur in both children and adults, and it appears to be mediated by microbes.
Using land-use regression modelling, researchers estimated endotoxin and PM10 concentrations at residential addresses in a study area. Atopic sensitization was assessed in relation to the levels of livestock farm associated PM10.
A dispersion model was used to estimate endotoxin concentrations at individual barns within 10 km of a residential address. Results were compared to predicted levels. The dispersion model was able to estimate higher endotoxin concentrations than the LUR model. The dispersion model also showed divergence in the PM10 concentrations.
The endotoxin concentrations were related to lung function parameters such as FVC and FEV1. While no significant associations were found with livestock exposure, the results indicated that FVC and FEV1 were positively associated with the dispersion modelled concentrations. However, the associations with MMEF and the proxy ‘distance to the nearest farm’ were not statistically significant.
Similarly, the number of farms was not statistically significant. This suggested a trend in the prevalence of wheeze with shortness of breath. The predicted prevalence decreased from 0.32 to 0.24.
Intensive animal farming accounts for a large share of human induced greenhouse gas emissions, and is among the leading contributors to climate change. In fact, animal agriculture is responsible for more global GHG emissions than the transportation sector. This means that the world’s food supplies are under threat, and that the planet needs to reduce fossil fuel emissions.
The livestock sector’s contribution to global warming is estimated to account for 14.5 percent of the total anthropogenic GHG emissions. The largest contributors are cattle and beef production, followed by dairy and enteric fermentation from ruminants.
According to the paper, the most effective way to mitigate the impact of livestock farming on climate change is to transition to a more sustainable and plant-based food system. This would reduce net global greenhouse gas emissions by 52 percent by the year 2100. The transition can be achieved by improving animal health, management, and feeding techniques.
In addition, better use of grazing land can help improve productivity and carbon sinks. Grazing lands also provide a natural buffer to climate change by lowering the risk of disasters. In addition, improved animal health can reduce the risk of diseases affecting wild animals.
In addition, better feeding methods can help to lower the methane released by decomposing manure. A better feed can also ensure energy efficiency, and ensure that nutrients are recovered.
A recent study, by scientists at the University of California at Davis, found that intensive animal farming contributes to global warming. Researchers used a simple model to calculate the effects of climate change on farm animal production. The results showed that there were significant differences in the amount of greenhouse gases produced by different livestock systems.