Instead of feeding antibiotics to farm animals, what if we kept them from getting sick in the first place? Pharmaceutical corporations are trying to get cows off drugs by creating new animal vaccines.
A Bloomberg snapshot of the industry shows that companies are spending a lot of money on vaccine development. We don’t know how much they are investing, but they are building new labs and buying up vaccine startup companies. The effort is already yielding results: There are new vaccines for animal pneumonia, circovirus in pigs, pancreas disease in salmon, and intestinal infections in pigs and chickens. Companies say they will unveil several more this year.
Vaccines aren’t a silver bullet. It can be expensive and time-consuming to inoculate every chick, piglet, and salmon fry. And some diseases defy attempts to craft vaccines. But these new preventive technologies will help in the effort to wean farms off antibiotics without causing more animals pain or increasing greenhouse gas emissions from meat.