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Animal Health and Welfare Issues Facing Organic Production Systems
Innovative Farms Systems, AgResearch Ltd, Ruakura Research Centre, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand
Animal Productivity, AgResearch Ltd, Grasslands, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 August 2013; in revised form: 24 October 2013 / Accepted: 25 October 2013 / Published: 31 October 2013
Simple Summary: The demand for organically grown, animal derived produce is increasing due to a growing desire for consumer products that have minimal chemical inputs and high animal welfare standards. Evaluation of the scientific literature suggests that a major challenge facing organic animal production systems is the management and treatment of health-related issues. However, implementation of effective management practices can help organic animal producers achieve and maintain high standards of health and welfare, which is 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.
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.
Keywords: animal welfare; health; organics; standards
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Cite This Article
MDPI and ACS Style
Sutherland, M.A.; Webster, J.; Sutherland, I. Animal Health and Welfare Issues Facing Organic Production Systems. Animals 2013, 3, 1021-1035.
Sutherland MA, Webster J, Sutherland I. Animal Health and Welfare Issues Facing Organic Production Systems. Animals. 2013; 3(4):1021-1035.
Sutherland, Mhairi A.; Webster, Jim; Sutherland, Ian. 2013. "Animal Health and Welfare Issues Facing Organic Production Systems." Animals 3, no. 4: 1021-1035.