Many of us in the livestock industry have been closely watching the Zilmax issue. In early August beef processor Tyson announced it would stop accepting cattle that had been fed the feed additive Zilmax. A week later the Merck the maker of Zilmax said it would be suspending sales. Later Cargill, another beef processor announced it too would discontinue the purchase of cattle fed Zilmax.
According to Washington State University adjunct professor Dr. Jude Capper possibly taking away the tool of Beta Agonists like Zilmax which help increase pounds of beef -- means we need more cattle, more land and other resources to make up the difference. She says.
Capper: "Then on an annual basis if we still wanted to make 26.1 billion pounds of beef we would need in total 3.5 million more cattle. We would need another 14,000 square miles of land which is the equivalent in area to roughly the area of Ireland. In terms of water use we'd need an extra 195 million gallons a year which is the annual use by 1.9 million households. In terms of fossil fuels, we'd need extra fossil fuels equal to the requirements of 38,000 households each year."
As we all know attempting to use more of our natural resources in such a way is unlikely but in order to continue being both sustainable and productive -- we need to consider the importance of productivity-enhancing tools like beta agonists.