Monday, April 27, 2015

Monday Must Have’s

Life has been a little crazy lately. Work is busy. Home is busy. Thankfully – I have this week Monday’s must have’s that help me get through the week.

1. Front Zip Sports Bra

2. Turkey Pepperoni Sticks

3. Adobe In-Design

4. F.A.W. – “Friday After Work”

VS front zip sports bra

Wow. It is really weird to post a picture of a bra but seriously you guys – Victoria’s Secret Front Zip VSX Sports Bra is the best. No more doing weird yoga moves just to get into your sports bra. It’s easy. It is comfy and they have fun colors and designs. It’s about time.

turkey pepperoni sticks

Turkey Pepperoni Sticks are my favorite quick, healthy snack. They taste so amazing and are only 50 calories. Do I need to say anything else here?

So -  I don’t have a picture of In-Design because it’s a program. Yes – I could have went to the web and grabbed one but it’s just not necessary. I love Adobe In-Design for so many reasons. It is really expensive but so worth it. I’ve taught myself how to use the program and use it for every creative thing I do. From ITF’s quarterly magazine to teacher gifts. More on teacher gifts to come!

faw janelle kerri sheilafaw all the girls

F.A.W – Friday After Work. Is so amazing. Everyone should have F.A.W. Basically it’s four families that get together Fridays after work. We rotate houses so not one person always has to host. We have supper or just appetizers and enjoy a beverage or two. The adults get to visit and the kids get to play together. It’s an amazing way to end the work week and I’m so blessed to have these couples and their kids in my life.

Have a great week and plan a F.A.W. with your friends soon.


~ The Sheiliac

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Antibiotics & Turkeys: Thoughts from a Farm Wife

Antibiotics. It’s a hot topic. There is a lot of information (correct and incorrect) out there to find and read. It can be confusing and scary. I just want to share our side of the story. I’m not trying to be rude or defensive.

Although sometimes it’s hard not to be defensive – I feel like everyday someone else is claiming farmers are bad and we are doing x, y or z. And every time the TV is on someone else is saying “that’s because of the farmers” – they are to blame. That makes me sad and frustrated.

Do people honestly think farmers are bad people? Do they think we are out to pollute, abuse animals and cause “super-bugs”? I don’t believe that – I think 99% of people (you) know that isn’t true.

And you know what – it IS hard. How do you know what to believe? How do you know WHO is telling the truth. I don’t know the answer to that. All I ask is that when you read something or hear something ask yourself this – who’s writing it? What’s their agenda? Is this a balanced view?

Antibitic and turkeys

If you don’t live on a farm and don’t personally know a farmer that you can ask– there are some things you should know before we start talking antibiotics.

1. We take bio-security very seriously. WHAT? Bio-Security? It’s a fancy way of saying we do everything we can to keep germs and disease away from our farm. We aren’t “hiding” anything, we are just trying to keep our animals the healthiest they can be. The more people/vehicles, etc. around the more germs there are.

2. We are just like you. Sure, our career choices are different but in the end we are the same. We have kids too, our schedules are filled with church, sports, school, etc. just like yours. We want our children to be happy and healthy too. We have to feed breakfast, lunch and supper to our family too. (So we want to know our food is safe too.)

3. 93% of all farms in the United States are family owned – just like mine. (USDA)

I don’t know about you but when I get sick or one of my kids get sick we go to the doctor. Sometimes they say, “It’s viral, you’ll have to wait it out” and sometimes it’s something like strep throat. When it’s strep throat – they prescribe an antibiotic. THANK GOODNESS. My 5 year old daughter is still on an antibiotic from strep throat and thank goodness that’s an option. The school started talking to me around 10am – by the time I got her into the doctor at 3:30 she was a crying mess. Everything hurt. She could hardly talk. The next day after 2 doses of antibiotics – she was 90% better. It’s amazing. I’m sure you all have similar stories.

Well – in a way it’s the same for our turkeys. We don’t want them to be sick. When our kids our sick we can tell by the way they act. They are sleepy, they are whinny and they just don’t act like themselves. Farmers can tell when turkeys are sick by the way they act too.

Normally, when my husband, father-in-law or son walk into one of the barns the birds come towards them, they “gobble”. When they are sick, the heads might be swollen, they might snicker (I don’t know how else to describe the sound they make), they might “cough”. We don’t want them to be uncomfortable. So we work with a veterinarian to decide the best course of action. Sometimes its antibiotics, sometimes it’s not. And let’s be honest – antibiotics cost money. We all know this. Would it make sense for us to spend money on antibiotics if it isn’t going to benefit the turkeys? No. Just like you wouldn’t put your child on antibiotics for a common cold. You would be spending the money and getting zero benefit.

I received this article about essential oils and antibiotics from my cousin (who I love dearly, might I add).

At first it made me angry. The article, that is – not angry at my cousin. The more I thought about it the more I realized I wasn’t mad, I was frustrated. It seems extremely hard to get well rounded information in a timely fashion. (Without doing all the research yourself and honestly who has the time for that?)

There are several things in the article that stood out and need to be clarified.

A. The article claims that 70% of the antibiotics given to farm animals are classified as “medically important” for humans. I don’t know if that is correct and to tell you the truth it really doesn’t matter. Know why? Two reasons really. 1. There is no link between antibiotic use in animal agriculture and antibiotic resistance. 2. The animals cannot have antibiotic residue when they leave the farm. End of story. We have to send samples in – they test for it. It’s called a withdrawal period. So when you see that label that says antibiotic free – guess what? All meat is antibiotic free when you consume it. The difference that some are looking for is “raised antibiotic free” – this means that they were not given antibiotics at any point. {“Antibiotic-free” is not a phrase authorized by the USDA, which inspects all meat for residues of antibiotics, chemicals and other substances. No meat sold in the US is allowed to have antibiotic residues, so technically, it’s all “antibiotic-free. – Watt Poultry USA}

antibiotic infographic

B. “While the drugs are, of course, sometimes necessary to treat infections in livestock, the real reasons they’re overused are to speed up growth and to compensate for the cramped, unsanitary living conditions the animals endure.” – Dr. Stuart B. Levy

You know earlier when I said it is hard not to get defensive? This is what I’m talking about. How many of you have actually visited a farm? Or Skyped with a farmer (yes, we are doing this)? FYI – the guy saying this wants you to fear your food. Why? So you will buy his book. He profits from your fear. Our turkeys do not live in cramped or unsanitary living conditions. Turkeys are raised in large open barns. They are given at least 4 square feet per bird. Photos can be deceptive. Turkeys like to be together, they stay close to one another. (It’s part of the wild turkey instinct, safety in numbers from predators, such as coyotes) Someone can take advantage of this and make it appear that they are cramped. In reality, they all have plenty of room to stretch, eat, drink, etc. We keep our barns clean for several reasons – the most important – moral obligation.

Helfter's 2008 003Feed - Feed bin and Turkeys in the barnTurkey stretching

C. Essential Oils. I don’t know a lot about essential oils. I’ve heard a lot about them. I was even invited to a party – but I couldn’t make it. This is my take on them… maybe they are the next big thing. Maybe they will work wonders on humans and animals. Maybe someday they can help to replace some use of antibiotics. BUT – we need to do research first. The article I read even admits, only “a handful” of studies have been conducted. With almost all the research being done in a lab. We cannot just start putting essential oils in the turkey feed. It’s not that easy. We don’t know side effects and we don’t know long term effects. The antibiotics we use have been used for 40+ years. They have thoroughly been researched and we know the long term affects. So while we can be hopeful that someday research will show us that essential oils can do what they claim they can do – we can be reassured by the system that is in the place and by the use of antibiotics that are approved for human use and animal agriculture use.

I recently read “Raising poultry without antibiotics” – highlights of a roundtable discussion. It was very interesting. If you want to read it here is the link.

Here are a few quotes from the article to think about…

1. “The panelists shared their experiences with alternative products for managing NE, such as essential oils, acidifiers or probiotics…in some cases these products “just aren’t going to do it.” They may perform well in a trial, he added, but they don’t in the field where there are more variables.” “Everyone is trying to find the silver bullet, but it doesn’t exist.”

2. {Raising flocks without ionophores (antibiotics not approved for human use), Practitioner 2 said, creates both animal-welfare and public-health issues. “We know ionophores are safe, yet we’re not using them in ABF (antibiotic free) systems. When we choose not to use ionophores, we’re making a decision to let birds die. Let’s be frank about it,” he said. Dougherty said it’s ironic that consumers who want ABF poultry are often the same people who insist on good animal welfare. “There’s a big disconnect there about understanding what the removal of antibiotics from poultry production truly means,” “It’s a real challenge to balance ABF with animal welfare.”

3. “It’s a fact that organic and ABF birds have a higher incidence of pathogens such as Salmonella and Campylobacter…We’re actually producing a product that’s not as safe for people or as good for the birds. It’s in direct conflict with the oath we’ve taken as veterinarians.

Like I said, I’m not trying to be rude or defensive. I just want to share both sides of the story. You are free to make your own choices – which is awesome. All I ask is that you try to get and understand both sides before you make your decision. Antibiotics will be a hot topic for years to come and truthfully in the end – we are all in this together. When you are sick – trust your doctor. If they say that an antibiotic is necessary take it. If they say it won’t help, don’t. As farmers we try to do what is best for our animals and we strive to provide safe and nutritious protein options. We trust in our veterinarians and will use antibiotics as they see fit.

As Americans we are very fortunate to have some of the safest, least expensive food options in the world so please don’t fear your food. Enjoy it.


~ The Sheiliac

If you want to read more or get more information here are some good articles and good sources:

The Animal Health Institute has really good information. They aren’t biased – they give the facts. Check them out

A fellow Iowa Turkey Farmer – Katie shares her take on antibiotics on her blog: On the Banks of Squaw Creek.

Editorial (but still a really good read that makes you think)

The Food Dialogues