New and On-going Research to Fight Antibiotic Resistance in Livestock Production

What’s being done about antibiotic resistance?

If you’ve been paying attention to the growing public discourse on antibiotics in livestock production you might well ask what can be done and what is being done about growing drug resistance. After all, even while consumer concerns tend to focus on the potential for antibiotics to enter the food supply, folks working in livestock and poultry production know that the threat of antibiotic resistance is really about growing risks for difficult or impossible-to-treat microbial disease. Moreover, producers know that this is a threat to the veterinary care their animals need as much as to human health. So again, what is being done to address resistance in livestock production?
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Responsible Antibiotic Use on Dairy Farms

Are you ready for a pop quiz?

Off the top of your head, how would you answer the following questions:

    • How often do dairy cattle receive antibiotics in dairy farms in the US?
      • a) Daily
      • b) As needed and advised by a veterinarian
    • Are there more antibiotics in milk from cows raised without antibiotics or cows raised on conventional farms?
      • a) Conventional farms
      • b) Neither, all milk is tested and removed from the food supply if it contains antibiotics, no matter the source.

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Antibiotic resistance in environment has One-Health implications

A summary of The Human Health Implications of Antibiotic Resistance in Environmental Isolates from Two Nebraska Watersheds by Donner et al. 2022

Key points

  • The interconnected health of humans, animals, and the environment is well established and increasingly studied in concert within a “One-Health” framework.
  • Approximately 40% of the bacteria isolated from watersheds in this study had acquired new antibiotic resistance genes which they had picked up in the environment.
  • Both urban and agricultural watersheds contained antibiotic-resistant bacteria, demonstrating the importance of one-health-based decision-making across industries and institutions.

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Swimmers beware, land application of manure can increase antibiotic resistance downstream

A summary of Catchment-scale export of antibiotic resistance genes and bacteria from an agricultural watershed in central Iowa by Neher et al. 2020

Key points

  • With some year-to-year variation, manure application increased antibiotic resistance surface water downstream of application site.
  • The CAMRADES team, led out of Iowa State University, will be expanding efforts to monitor and model AMR in agricultural watersheds in the region.

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Tales of the Resistance Podcast

Welcome to “Tales of the Resistance” a podcast all about resistance, not political but microbiological, in other words: antimicrobial resistance (AMR). AMR  is a serious and growing public health threat that impacts us all. We all have a story to tell about how it can and does impact our lives. So in this series members of the iAMResponsible team, a multidisciplinary group of researchers and educators from across the country working on AMR in the food chain, are going to be diving in to learn about the problem and what we can all do about it.

Hosting this series are three members of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Schmidt Lab, and staff working on the iAMResponsible team, Mara Zelt, Amber Patterson, and Bella Breinig.

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AMR from a One-Health Perspective

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has been recognized globally as a significant threat to public health. The causes and repercussions of growing AR are highly complex, which is why attempts to address the issue must utilize a One-Health (systems connecting the health of people, animals, and their shared environment) approach. 

The national extension team iAMResponsible teaches a multi-university virtual course on antimicrobial resistance across the one health spectrum every spring, some of the course materials are now available here at LPELC– because everyone needs to know about AMR!

Check out more from the “Antimicrobial Resistance from a one-health perspective” course 

Authors and Sponsors

The iAMResponsible project was started by Amy Schmidt at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Stephanie Lansing at the University of Maryland. Find out more about the project hereFunding for the iAMResponsbile Project was provided by USDA-NIFA Award Nos. 2017-68003-26497, 2018-68003-27467 and 2018-68003-27545. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Glossary of Antimicrobial Resistance

If you are just starting to learn about antimicrobials and resistance, first off welcome to the club, we are so happy to have more microbe obsessives! Second, we guessed you might have been encountering some words or concepts that you haven’t heard before. So, we’ve put together this visual glossary for you to explore. Search the table below for a word or unfamiliar phrase and you’ll find a definition AND videos or other websites where you can learn more about that concept. 

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Addressing Antimicrobial Resistance Through Livestock Management

In this webinar, representatives from multiple sectors of the livestock production industry are featured to learn how each sector is approaching the complex problem of antibiotic resistance with management strategies to improve antimicrobial stewardship in live animal production and across the food production system. This presentation was originally broadcast on August 20, 2021. Continue reading “Addressing Antimicrobial Resistance Through Livestock Management”

Dietary Impact on Antibiotic Resistance in Feedlot Manure

Report on research conducted at the University of Nebraska, originally printed in the 2021 Nebraska Beef Cattle Report.


There is a growing public concern regarding antibiotic resistance and the use of antibiotics, including in livestock management. Understanding the ecology of antibiotic resistance among microbes, identifying resistance gene reservoirs, and implementing antibiotic resistance mitigation practices in livestock production is critical to protecting animal and human health while meeting increasing food demands. This research is one of several studies seeking to assess risk for livestock-to-human transfer of antibiotic resistance and to identify mechanisms for reducing that risk where possible. This study evaluated the impact of forage concentration and supplemental essential oil in beef cattle finishing diets on antibiotic resistance in freshly excreted and consolidated beef feedlot manure. Results indicate that antibiotic resistance in manure was not impacted by either of the two dietary treatments considered. Continue reading “Dietary Impact on Antibiotic Resistance in Feedlot Manure”