By Julie Tomascik

A place, a time and a reason. Antibiotics are just a small piece of the livestock puzzle.

It’s a complex situation. And it takes a team of experts—like veterinarians—and ranchers working together. Analyzing animal health and making smart decisions.

Responsible antibiotic use on the farm and ranch is a safe practice. A needed practice. It encompasses animal welfare and public health with a focus on the best outcome for all involved. Including you and me.

Antibiotics have a tough reputation. But, in agriculture, it’s just one of the many tools to raise healthy animals.

I’m sure even Old MacDonald worked with a veterinarian. A farmer with that many animals had to have questions and need guidance. Just like our farmers today.

And there’s more…

Here are five antibiotic measures you might not have “herd.”

1) A vet is on call. Day or night. That solid relationship with a veterinarian, or two, helps make certain livestock are well-cared for.

2) Antibiotic treatment is case-specific. For one, a herd or a flock. Catch it quickly and administer treatment so it doesn’t spread. And put all livestock at risk.

3) An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Farmers and ranchers won’t stand for sick animals. So they vaccinate. Taking a proactive stance against disease.

4) There’s the Veterinary Feed Directive. It’s coming Jan. 1, 2017. And it’s a big change driven by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It aims to eliminate antibiotic use for growth promotion. And increases veterinarian oversight. Farmers and ranchers are embracing it.

5) All meat is antibiotic-free. Yup. Walk up to the meat counter, make your selection and take it home. Knowing your food is safe.

Dynamic. Ever-changing. Yet traditional and grounded in principles. Animal agriculture is built on a strong foundation. With the flexibility to adapt. The resources to grow. And the determination to succeed.