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June 23, 2011

Steer manure needs to be well composted to avoid antibiotics

We all know that on feed lots where most of the steer manure is from, the cattle are given large doses of antibiotics. These medicines are supposed to help the animals gain weight quickly. It also helps keep animals penned together closely and standing in their own feces healthy. What I never understood is that the antibiotics are then excreted in the urine and feces, contaminating the manure with antibiotics. And when you or I buy a bag of steer manure and spread it on the garden, we are giving our soil a dose of antibiotics.

These antibiotics can harm the soil by killing the microbs and soil bacteria that make for a healthy garden. That is bad enough. But I just read an article in Science Agogo by Kate Melvile which says some crops absorb the antibiotics in the manure! "The antibiotic was found in the plant leaves and concentrations in the plant tissue increased as the amount of antibiotic present in the manure increased. Worryingly, it also diffused into potato tubers, which suggests that other root crops - such as carrots and radishes - may be particularly vulnerable to antibiotic contamination." In such circumstances we could then be getting a dose of unwanted antibiotic with our vegetables!

So check your steer manure carefully to make sure it is composted. I really doubt there is much supervision over what composting is done. I am going to use only chicken manure after reading up on antibiotic cantamination. They don't feed anitbiotics to chickens.

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Posted by Marilyn Renaker at June 23, 2011 4:55 PM
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