Hormones, GMO-Free Feeds & Ethic on Antibiotic Use

All our animals are raised without the use of artificial growth hormones (we don't label them as completely hormone-free because all animals have natural hormones...) and we purchase feeds that do not contain genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). The use of non-GMO feeds supports our belief that genetic modification involves toying with an agricultural and eco-system that has the ability to function beautifully without such interventions. 

Our ethic regarding antibiotics and other drugs is that they have their place and should be used judiciously in order to stop needless suffering. When we do encounter a health issue, we first monitor to see if the problem clears up naturally. We only resort to the use of antibiotics or other drugs when absolutely necessary. In these cases, we consult with a veterinarian who understands our views regarding drug use.

We generally achieve a very low antibiotic/drug use rate by h
ousing our animals in conditions conducive to good health and by providing a well-balanced diet that includes extra vitamins, minerals and pro-biotics where appropriate. In the cases where we do use an antibiotic or other drug, we wait at least double (and usually much longer) the prescribed period until slaughter. An indication of our low antibiotic use is the fact that the products we do buy often pass their expiry date before we ever need them :-). 

Over time we are finding that the one instance where we need to use drugs on a more consistent basis is for deworming pigs. Pigs by their very nature love to root around in soil and it's very hard to keep them parasite free as a result since they pick up whatever is in the soil. As such, we test on a regular basis for parasites and do provide the pigs with a mild commerical dewormer if the test results demonstrate that it is needed - always long before slaughter. We are seeking effective natural dewormers but have not yet found a product or method that we feel will be easy to administer (pigs are very hard to catch and treat orally - especially in a pastured situation) and sufficiently effective. We continue to seek alternatives but in the meantime are using a conventional dewormer in order to ensure the health of the piggers. This is one of the toss ups of respecting the pigs nature. The pigs are obviously very happy rooting around out on the land, having vegetation to munch on and such - and we will not compromise that by confining them, but one of the prices is more risk associated with parasites. UPDATE (September 2016): We managed to source an herbal dewormer and are giving it a try on the hogs we currently have on the farm. First fecal sample indicates clear for worms. Fingers crossed...