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Welfare, health and product quality in organic beef production - a Danish perspective

Nielsen, B. and Thamsborg, S.M. (2005) Welfare, health and product quality in organic beef production - a Danish perspective. Livestock Production Science, 94 (1-2), pp. 41-50.

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Organic beef production in Europe is based on grazing in the summertime and feeding of minimum 60% of roughage during the whole year. Although these recommendations were intended to improve health and welfare several aspects may cause problems in organic beef production systems. This paper gives an overview of welfare, health and product quality in organic beef production with emphasis on organic steer production based on dairy breed bull calves. A short overview of different production systems is given with emphasis on the effect on health, and welfare. Feeding aspects are discussed. Farm studies have shown that organic steer production is based on high amounts of roughages, and only small amounts of cereals are used compared to a conventional production of bulls and calves. Fattening of organic steers may result in metabolic disorders due to sudden changes in the feed ration when changing from high roughage to high cereal content. The various problems related to the production system are discussed. Farm studies indicate a good general health and welfare in organic steer production system based on subjective monthly observations. On pasture, parasite infections may be the primary factor affections health and productivity in organic beef production. Rearing of the young calves and utilization of marginal grazing areas are two major fields, which requires further attention. The effect of castration on health and welfare and the effect of castration age and method are discussed. Product quality of organic beef is affected by the production system, especially sex, grazing and exercise. Grazing and exercise that are inevitable components of the organic beef production system may affect the eating quality of organic beef due to darker meat color, risk of off-flavor, yellow fat, and a higher content of unsaturated fatty acids including CLA. The general effect on sensory attributes might be of minor importance. Feeding high amounts of roughage with contents of bioactive forages may be one of the means of improving product quality in the future.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:CLA; bioactive forages; castration; organic farming
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Health and welfare
Research affiliation: Denmark > DARCOF II (2000-2005) > II. 3 (PROSBIO) Production of steers and use of bioactive forages
Deposited By: Thamsborg, Professor Stig Milan
ID Code:4521
Deposited On:24 Feb 2005
Last Modified:29 Apr 2013 21:00
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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