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Sustainable veterinary medical practices in organic farming: a global perspective

Vaarst, Mette; Roderick, Stephen; Byarugaba, Denis K.; Kobayashi, Sofie; Rubaire-Aiikii, Chris and Karreman, Hubert J. (2006) Sustainable veterinary medical practices in organic farming: a global perspective. In: Halberg, N.; Alrøe, H.F.; Knudsen, M.T. and Kristensen, E.S. (Eds.) Global Development of organic Agriculture: Challenges and Prospects. CAB International, pp. 241-276.

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Livestock production systems are the focus area of this chapter, where the prospects for an organic approach to veterinary treatment and disease control are discussed in particular. We have taken a case presentation approach to this topic by selecting some widely different farming systems to represent different challenges and opportunities for using and reducing veterinary medical products, as well as developing disease prevention and health-promoting strategies that meet the ideas of organic animal husbandry. The major challenge in organic livestock production systems is to ‘think the organic principles’ into a wide range of diverse systems under a wide range of circumstances and conditions, including systems which are not certified as ‘organic’ at the moment. We recommend that developing organic animal husbandry at all times requires a thorough analysis of the problems, opportunities and existing knowledge. All organic systems should allow animals to perform their natural behaviour as far as possible, and naturalness is an important principle also of organic livestock farming. We consider various organic approaches to breeding for disease resistance (use of indigenous breeds), the role of vaccination, traditional medicine and alternatives to biomedical treatments and other approaches to disease management. We have given particular emphasis on the need for a reduction in the use of antimicrobial veterinary drugs, as we can see some potential for a reduction of dependency on veterinary medicine, and – when successful – the associated problems of drug residues and resistance. The potential for the control of vector-borne diseases in the development of organic systems in tropical areas is also included in the discussion. In North Europe and large areas of the north-western world, production diseases related to high yield and performance dominate, whilst in the tropical regions the risk of infectious and epidemic diseases is a greater concern. The development of organic farming must always be careful not to threaten local and regional disease control programmes, particularly where the diseases are zoonotic in nature, are highly infectious or are of widespread economic importance, e.g Rinderpest and foot and mouth disease. According to experiences from the USA and Europe, effectiveness of organic approaches to health management are not always immediate. Whole communities can benefit from implementing and organizing an organic approach to disease prevention, e.g. in the case of communal grazing systems.

EPrint Type:Book chapter
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Health and welfare
Research affiliation:Uganda
Denmark > AU - Aarhus University > AU, DJF - Faculty of Agricultural Sciences
UK > Duchy College
Denmark > ICROFS - International Centre for Research in Organic Food Systems
Deposited By: Holme, Ms. Mette
ID Code:13734
Deposited On:28 Jul 2008
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:37
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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