if steroids are useful for human athletes, how about draft animals?

suppose we want stronger horses / oxen / whatever other draft animal or beast of burden used in low tech agriculture. Can steroids or similar substances be used to achieve a level of physical development in them much higher than what you can get normally given the breed? Sort of like human athletes do with steroids, I mean.

Has this been tried and didn’t work? Or tried and shown to make no real difference for the work process that the animals are used in?

Anabolic steroids are tested for in race horses, where there is a history of their use/abuse.

Steroids are often used to gain ‘great’ strength for short-term efforts, like hitting a baseball 3 or 4 times in a 3-hour game, or weight lifting (3 tries in a match).

Work horses were bred for continuous, slower exertion all day long, from dusk to dawn during planting & harvesting season. Steroids don’t do much to help in that scenario. Horses that are used for short, strenuous efforts, like the 30-90 seconds of a horse race, were sometimes dosed with steroids (but current testing has made that very difficult).

You kind of got to think of it like this

Normally as you put on muscle you also have to develop flexibility, you’re tendons will thicken and you bone density becomes greater. All these things and more happen when one trains and gains muscle naturally.

When you use steriods you are enabling your body to put on the muscle mass faster. So fast that your tendons don’t think, your bone density doesn’t increase enough and you lose flexibility. And that’s just starts. That’s why people who use steriods can get muscles but risk injury.

If you tried this with an animal you’s certainly increase strength at the cost of other things to the animals which would render it useless. I mean a more muscular plow horse with a broken leg is useless.

could modern medicine fix the problem noted by Markxxx? Could we stimulate the bones or the tendons to grow better, in either humans or animals?

Probably, but then you are getting into things that cost too much for someone who relies on the animals to make a living. Not cost effective.

Anabolic steroids are used in farm animals, as growth promoters in meat production. Try googling anabolic growth promoters in animals, or have a look at this, from The Merck Veterinary Manual, or this, regarding the EU ban on hormone growth promoters.

Steroids are used for a whole host of medical issues in humans, so you can expect the same in livestock.

I have seen them used in inhalers, and also to be injected directly to damaged joints, so I should imagine that these may be uses for them in anuimals.

Athletes are not necessarily tring to put on muscle bult, steroids can also be used to improve recovery rates, which means they can train more frequently.The idea of them being used by short burst activities is wrong by quite a margin, you only need look at the Tour de France, which is probably the most drawn out athletic event in the worl, steroids have a notorious reputation in cycling.

Do you want a Clydesdale on a roid rage pulling your wagon?

I think not.


Eh… animals don’t get the same symptoms humans do with increased steroids (no roid rage).

toodlepip links show that, while experimentally used, many of the steroids are banned for production animals. And really, why go to banned products when there are other implants legally available that are more effective/cheaper? So there are other nonsteroidal implants that are not banned and are more effective. But they are not always used.

A couple of years ago, Louisiana had an outbreak of sudden death in racehorses, traced back to illegal injections with steroids. So yes, they can be used, but illegal (and dangerous). I don’t even remember if they were good racehorses or not.

IIRC, anabolic steroids in dogs leads to atrophy in the bone marrow and few other things. Not good.

And also, that is a weird question to phrase… The animals that get the growth stimulants in livestock are not from low-tech areas, they are intensively managed settings. Whether or not the animals get the promoters depends on many factors. And it is not low tech.

If you want something really low-tech, it is what humans have been doing with livestock for centuries. Breed the good producers as much as possible and cull the nonproducers. It may not help you this year, but maybe 5 years from now you’ll start seeing a change.