The FDA’s Veterinary Feed Directive goes into effect in less than five months, new regulations that mean producers will need veterinary approval to use certain antibiotics.

It’s part of an ongoing effort to protect humans by reducing the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and a movement with conflicting scientific opinions about the link between animals given those antibiotics and human health. So one would think efforts to find avenues other than antibiotic use to ensure animal health would be welcome. Well, yes and no.

Bloomberg reports at least two major players in the animal health business, Merck Animal Health and Elanco LLC, are investing millions of dollars to develop vaccines to prevent disease, thereby reducing or eliminating the need to use antibiotics in some cases. The Bloomberg story was no fluff piece, but it underscored how for-profit corporations work for a common good that is beneficial to all. Except, we were left wondering why Bloomberg chose to use “Big Pharma” in the headline, a term often used in a derogatory manner by activists? It also left us wondering, “Where is Little Pharma in these efforts to combat antibiotic resistance?”

Grazing on Garbage

Chaos continues in India as the government supports a ban on the consumption of beef. Mounting are the unintended consequences of the ban, including a rise in the death of “free-ranging” cows.

The Times of India reports poverty-stricken cow owners are setting their animals free to graze through garbage-lined streets. Many of the cows are dying from ingesting plastic bags that lodge in their rumens. In Bhuj, several cows have undergone surgery with 4,000 plastic bags removed.

Activists planned a mass public consumption of beef to protest the treatment and harassment of cattle handlers and beef exporters. The police denied permission for the protest, but two activists managed to smuggle a beef dish to the gathering via rickshaw on Sunday. They were arrested.

Brand Board Settles Dispute

The South Dakota Brand Board awarded rancher Gilvern Keester $53,064 from the sale of 46 head of cattle that neighbor Curtis Temple claims were stolen from him. Temple’s land surrounds Keester’s, and they have a years-old-feud that includes gunfire, according to testimony before the Brand Board. Last year, Temple attempted to sell the cattle at the Philip livestock market, but Keester got word of it and went to Philip where he attempted to load the cattle and haul them home. A hold was placed on the cattle and they were eventually sold two weeks later. DNA testing indicated the cattle didn’t belong to Temple. Yet, the Brand Board vote was not unanimous – three members voted to award Keester the proceeds while one member voted against the motion.

Dolly’s Clone Sisters

Twenty years ago, scientists introduced the world to Dolly the sheep – the first cloned mammal. Since then, cloning technology has offered significant potential for multiplying the very best genetics among livestock populations. Fear and misunderstanding remain, however, and cloning has remained a small contributor in livestock reproductive technology and genetic improvement.