Animal Health and Welfare Issues Facing Organic Production Systems

Abstract: The demand for organically-grown produce is increasing worldwide, with one of the drivers being an expectation among consumers that animals have been farmed to a high standard of animal welfare. This review evaluates whether this expectation is in fact being met, by describing the current level of science-based knowledge of animal health and welfare in organic systems. The primary welfare risk in organic production systems appears to be related to animal health. Organic farms use a combination of management practices, alternative and complementary remedies and convenional medicines to manage the health of their animals and in many cases these are at least as effective as management practices employed by non-organic producers. However, in contrast to non-organic systems, there is still a lack of scientifically evaluated, organically acceptable therapeutic treatments that organic animal producers can use when current management practices are not sufficient to maintain the health of their animals. The development of such treatments are necessary to assure consumers that organic animal-based food and fibre has not only been produced with minimal or no chemical input, but under high standards of animal welfare.

Reference: Sutherland, M. A., Webster, J., & Sutherland, I. (2013). Animal Health and Welfare Issues Facing Organic Production Systems. Animals (2076-2615), 3(4), 1021-1035