Seaweed before swine: Ocean greens replace antibiotics in pig feed
Ocean Harvest Technology has launched its flagship swine feed made from seaweed in the U.S., according to a company statement.
The product was launched shortly after the introduction of the Food and Drug Administration's new Veterinary Feed Directive, which will eliminate the use of antibiotics in animal feed and relegate them to veterinarian-overseen use.
By significantly improving the gut health and immune systems of animals, OceanFeed Swine provides farmers with a 100% sustainable product that, among other things, reduces animal mortality rates, improves fertility yields and improves meat quality and taste.
For decades, antibiotics have been used to stimulate growth in animals raised for meat. But these practices have reduced the efficiency of drugs for their primary medical purposes — leaving the medical community with often ineffective medicine to solve various medical problems.
The Veterinary Feed Directive became effective in January. It intends to sharply reduce — and in some cases eliminate — the use of antibiotics in pigs, cattle and chickens, except for medicinal purposes under the direction of a veterinarian. As a result, the meat industry was suddenly in need of a company like Ocean Harvest Technology to find a natural, cost-effective way to improve and sustain livestock health.
This seaweed-based "medicine" seems like a win-win for meat companies. A growing number of consumers are rejecting meat that has been raised or treated with antibiotics — an expensive undertaking for meat producers. OceanFeed provides a natural, cheap and preventative solution to both pig illness and consumer demand for all-natural pork products.
This strategy is becoming more common in the meat space —Tyson Foods just announced that it will remove antibiotics from its branded chicken breasts, wings and nuggets. The company will instead treat its chickens with probiotics to keep them healthy, and even though this transition will be expensive, the company will be able to sell antibiotic-free poultry for about 20% more than traditional products.
Cutting back on antibiotic costs and hiking up product prices could be good incentive for meat producers on the fence about making the switch to antibiotic-free meat, especially if products like OceanFeed can be made to feed and treat other animals.