Growth hormones provide more beef, less cattle
MISSISSIPPI STATE– Mississippi State University animal science students advocate the use of growth promoting hormone implants in beef cattle production.
The use of growth hormones in the cattle industry is an issue causing mass skepticism among American consumers. For decades, beef producers have relied on growth hormone implants to improve feed efficiency and enhance lean yield of their herd. By repartitioning nutrients to muscle growth instead of fat deposition, these hormones enable producers to finish their cattle earlier and, thus, conserve natural resources. Production costs for producers decrease by 5-10% from reduced feed requirements alone, while a 40% reduction in greenhouse gases per pound of beef supports the environment. Despite these benefits, public concerns about hormone implants in beef cattle focus on public health and animal welfare.
This calf enjoys a warm, autumn day in Artesia, MS.
Because the hormones used in growth implants are already present in cattle for normal physiological functioning, all meat products, whether they are “organic” or not, contain hormones. Considering a three ounce serving of beef from an implanted steer has 1.9 nanograms of estradiol and a three ounce serving of beef from a non-implanted calf has 1.3 nanograms, the difference is insignificant and does not account for any negative impacts on animal or human health. Consumers must also be reminded of the strict federal regulatory testing in place to monitor all beef products before they are able to enter commerce. To attest to the minimal stress it causes the cattle, the students met with a local cattle producer to witness the implantation process. The growth hormone implants are released slowly over a period of time in small pellets, which are shot into the ear using an implant gun (shown below).
This is the tool used to administer growth hormone implants. The white capsule (containing the hormone) gets injected subcutaneously on the backside of the ear of the cattle. Because the ear is discarded at harvest, the implant never enters the food chain.
As Mr. Doug Yelverton, a cattle producer from Artesia, emphasized, “Farmers need to help educate the younger generations, so they know where their food is coming from.” Students hope that openly advocating the research promoting the safety of growth implants in beef cattle, the research refuting harmful public health issues, the positive effects they have on the environment, and the financial benefits trickling down to consumers because of them will ultimately increase the acceptance and confidence consumers have in beef products and display the animal agricultural industry in a more positive light.
“As animal scientists, we must promote the benefits hormone implants serve both environmentally and financially to dissipate these negative perceptions, or our industry will lose the respect it deserves,” explained Jamie Huselton, one of the students determined to educate the public on growth hormone use in cattle.
To learn more, visit the Bost Auditorium on December 4, 2014, at 3 p.m. to view the video presentation created by these students on growth hormone implants in the beef industry.
This cattle producer looks at his herd with accomplishment, knowing he has provided them with the best care and necessary resources.