Animal welfare is central to organic standards. Recent decades have seen a major shift in the way we farm our livestock and produce our meat. Storybook farms have been replaced with battery hens, feed lot cattle, pigs that are intensively farmed by being kept in concrete pens barely big enough for them to stand in. Many of these husbandry practices have bought about major concern in consumers who care about the welfare of the animal.
Certified organic ensures that any animals involved in food production have been handled under stringent regulations. This thererfore gives the consumer immediate affirmation that the welfare of the animal is being addressed in a sustainable and caring manner, as well as addressing the issues of food safety, integrity, nutrition, sustainability, and environment protection.
Certified organic animal farming means:
No factory farming;
Lots of outdoor space and fresh air for the animal;
Encouragement of normal animal behaviour;
No routine use of drugs and vaccines (unless absolutely necessary);
No genetically modified (GM) feed or growth hormones;
Minimised stress in transport and slaughter.
The organic standard for ruminant livestock production - pigs, sheep, goats and beef cattle - reflects the same level of care and responsibility, which comes down to good, sustainable husbandry practice. Any animal may only be subjected to medical intervention as necessary and under certain guidelines. Surgical interventions such as dehorning are covered by specific rules; some are prohibited and those that are allowed must be carried out with a minimum of suffering to the animal. The apiary section prohibits the clipping of bees’ wings. Transporting stock must be done humanely, with attention to transport times, feeding and watering en route and fitness of the animal for travel.
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