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Cattle on Junk Food

Pizza dough and tetracycline

In a recent interview with a former manager of a Nebraska feedlot, Eatwild has learned of an extreme example of raising cattle on junk food. In this particular feedlot, the cattle were fattened on stale pizza crust that the owners purchased from a wholesale bakery for only a penny a pound.

Feeding junk food to animals is regarded by many as a win-win situation: it keeps waste food out of the landfills and provides low cost food for the animal industry.

The pizza dough was then mixed with powdered tetracycline. Why add the antibiotic medication? Because low levels of antibiotics make cattle eat more and put on weight more rapidly, further cutting the cost of raising them to maturity. Tetracycline is not approved as a feed additive in cattle, so the owners purchased the drug under the false pretense that they were using it to treat disease in poultry.

On this junk food and drug diet, the cattle put on as much as four pounds a day, a remarkable rate of growth at a very low cost. The end result was more money for the feedlot, more abuse of medications that are important for human medicine, and more meat of questionable quality for an unsuspecting public.

The degree to which American cattle are being fed junk food and off-label drugs is not known.

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