This is an intriguing and thought provoking question. As a pig farmer, there is nothing I would like to see more than to greatly reduce or eliminate the use of antibiotics. But in the real world, is this possible? Can we raise pigs without antibiotics?
Current Antibiotic Use
As of January 1, 2017 (FDA Directive 209 and 213), antibiotics can only be used for therapeutic and sub-therapeutic use. What does this mean? Therapeutic means giving antibiotics for animals who are sick and sub-therapeutic antibiotic use is for illness prevention.
When antibiotics are used in livestock, drug withdrawals are strictly followed. Each drug is labeled with a specific withdrawal period mandated by the FDA. A withdrawal period is the time between the last antibiotic dosage and the time an animal goes to market. By following the withdrawal periods, animals sent to market are below the FDA residual mandated levels.
On our farm, we keep records of each drug used, when it was administered, what animals received the antibiotic and the dosage. These records are required and helps us facilitate the process of following FDA requirements.