Sanderson: Veterinarians would leave if antibiotics cut

Sanderson Farms CEO Joe F. Sanderson Jr. recently reiterated that the company has no intention of moving into the antibiotic-free chicken market.

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(Yurii Bukhanovskyi| Bigstock)
(Yurii Bukhanovskyi| Bigstock)

Sanderson Farms CEO Joe F. Sanderson Jr. reiterated that the company has no intention of moving into the antibiotic-free chicken market.

Speaking on May 17 at the BMO Capital Markets 12th Annual Farm to Market Conference, Sanderson said it is a decision supported not only by the company’s management, but its veterinarians as well.

“For a lot of reasons, we didn’t think it was right for us to do antibiotic-free. Our veterinarians, half of them would leave us if we did. They’ve taken an oath,” Sanderson said.

Sanderson also noted that veterinarians in general do not advocate denying sick animals antibiotics.

“I’ve taken care of cattle, I’ve taken care of hogs, I have two dogs, and no veterinarian has ever told me to give my dogs -- what is it?-- herbs,” he said.

‘Not a big deal’

Sanderson said he is aware many consumers in geographical markets such as New York and Boston place a higher value on chicken raised without antibiotics, but in Sanderson Farms’ primary markets in the Southeastern United States, “antibiotic-free is not a big deal, and organic is not a big deal.”

“Every grocery store has a section of either antibiotic-free or organic, but it’s a small section. Mainly what they are carrying is regular chicken,” he said.

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