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Improving organic animal farming for the future

Roderick, Stephen and Vaarst, Mette (2019) Improving organic animal farming for the future. In: Vaarst, Mette and Roderick, Stephen (Eds.) Improving organic animal farming. 1 edition. Burleigh Dodds Series in Agricultural Science, no. 46. Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing, Cambridge UK, chapter 18, pp. 375-384.

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Recognising and promoting multi-levelled diversity on farms, between farms and across the world is a critical pre-condition for development of organic farming. To ensure that farming can continuously develop in diverse ways to meet the multiple needs and aims of current and future generations of humans, animals and ecosystems, we need institutional frameworks that build on a development agenda that incorporates issues such as resource allocation, knowledge transfer, public goods and research. The key four organic principles of fairness, care, health and ecology give us the necessary benchmark from which we can continue to characterise farms as organic. Although organic certification provides us with the critical guarantee, we also need to maintain sufficient pragmatism and flexibility to account for diversity and equality. The broad organic farming community should be inclusive of systems that aspire to meet the key organic principles, even though they may not qualify as being certifiably organic.
Animals on organic farms should be seen as complementary parts of the farm ecosystem rather than competitors. We have identified embedded integration as a key aspiration for all organic farms with animals, as this contributes to more efficient resource utilisation, dietary diversity and sustainable economies. However, regardless of the nature of the interactions, underpinning the thought processes should be the notion that farmed animals are sentient beings, and other non-farmed animals are also key contributors to the key ecological processes. A part of embracing sentience should be appreciating animals’ opportunity for natural behaviour which in turn requires us to broaden our view of the health of animals to that of their resilience. By recognising and promoting resilience, we can create systems that allow animals to deal effectively with their surroundings and to have positive experiences, as well as being free from disease. The organic farming systems that we create and develop when we recognise and promote resilience, integration and diversity requires shared knowledge, skills and experience. In this respect, creating the right environment and emphasis on communication between farmers, between farmers and advisors, and at another level, communication between humans and animals, becomes particularly important.

EPrint Type:Book chapter
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Health and welfare
Research affiliation: Denmark > AU - Aarhus University > Faculty of Science and Technology > Department of Animal Science
UK > Duchy College
Deposited By: Vaarst, Dr. Mette
ID Code:36448
Deposited On:10 Sep 2019 10:59
Last Modified:10 Sep 2019 10:59
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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