In her book “Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World,” journalist Maryn McKenna uncovered how chickens became big business, highlighting the instrumental role antibiotics played in turning chickens from primarily egg layers into a meat source. According to Gastropod:9
“In 1948, a British scientist, Thomas Jukes, was experimenting with adding vitamins and other supplements to poultry feed. Jukes worked for a company that also synthesized antibiotics, a new genre of wonder drugs that had just begun to transform human health, and so he decided to add a tiny amount of his company’s antibiotic to the feed of one of the groups of chickens in his studies.
His results were astonishing: the chickens on drugs grew 2.5 times faster than the hens kept on a standard diet. News spread fast, and only a few years later, American farmers were feeding their animals nearly half a million pounds of antibiotics a year.”
Today we’re seeing the catastrophic consequences of this practice.Seventy percent of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are used by industrial agriculture for purposes of growth promotion and preventing diseases that would otherwise make their concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) unviable. Low doses of antibiotics are added to feed as a matter of course, not only to stave off inevitable infectious diseases but also because they cause the animals to grow faster on less food.