So, a big part of my job, at the Ohio Pork Council, is managing the Ohio Hog Farmers Facebook page. Yep, there’s a real life human person behind a pig association’s social media efforts…shocking, eh?
Needless to say, we get all kinds of interesting, sometimes unusual, questions, comments and statements via social media. A comment we’ve gotten recently is:
“Amazing how fast pigs grow when force-fed growth hormones.”
Frankly, farmers feed their pigs growth hormones about as often as your mother fed you parts off a Volkswagen when you were growing up.
The truth is, added growth hormones are not permitted in growing pigs.
Most pigs eat a diet that consists primarily of ground up corn and soybeans, with some trace vitamins and minerals added.
All living things contain hormones, therefore any meat, milk, vegetable, etc. you consume would contain certain amounts of hormone. What many people are actually concerned about are added hormones, or what does not exist in the food naturally. Added hormones are not permitted for use in growing pigs. Therefore, the claim “no hormones added” cannot be used on the labels of pork unless it is followed by the statement “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.”
The follow-up statement to this is usually:
” Well, what about antibiotics? Antibiotics are forced upon animals to make them grow. Right?”
Antibiotics are very expensive, so farmers would be going backward if they gave antibiotics frivolously. Just like in human medicine, antibiotics are only given to pigs that are sick or at risk of becoming sick. Farmers work closely with veterinarians to make sure they are properly caring for their animals and that any animal that is sick is medicated appropriately. Also, strict guidelines are in place to ensure that animals treated with antibiotics are kept out of the food system until those medications have left their system. It’s a fact that healthy animals grow better than sick animals, just the same as people, so keeping their animals healthy allows farmers to ensure their animals are going to thrive.
Pigs grow fast, naturally.
Until next time,