The cattle industry is moving away from a feed additive linked to animal lethargy, lameness, and even becoming too heavy to walk. The drug Zilmax is a beta-agonist, which promotes muscle growth; it is used to bulk up cattle just before they are sent to slaughter.
Tyson Foods Inc. made an announcement in August that it will stop purchasing animals who are fed Zilmax, citing animal well-being as the reason for the change. Reports have also come out speculating that Tyson may have made this change to open its products to countries that already ban these types of drugs.
Even bigger news is that the maker of Zilmax, Merck Animal Health, announced it will take the product off of the market. In announcing its decision not to accept cattle fed Zilmax for delivery against contracts traded on its exchanges, Chicago Mercantile Exchange said cattle fed with the drug are being rejected by many slaughter establishments and are essentially unsellable.