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Animal health and welfare in organic livestock sysytems identification of constraints and priorities OF0172

Unspecified (1999) Animal health and welfare in organic livestock sysytems identification of constraints and priorities OF0172. Reading University .

[thumbnail of animal_health_welfare_OF0172.pdf] PDF - English


Policy recommendations
1. There should be careful consideration of organic standards generally, and the new EU organic livestock production standards specifically, with regard to animal health and welfare, with a greater emphasis on disease control and eradication on a herd basis.
2. There are increasingly more alternative health products being introduced into the organic livestock sector. The sector bodies should respond by monitoring and evaluating these and provide producer recommendations so as to safeguard animal welfare, producers and consumers.
3. It is recommended that, before and during conversion, a written protocol be drawn-up for each individual farm, and should focus on known farm health problems.
4. The organic standards should reflect the specific issues concerned with converting hill and upland systems to organic production, particularly with regard to sheep scab in open hill situations, mineral deficiencies and the role of the stratified sheep industry in organic farming.
5. Farm records need to be used effectively to evaluate the animal health status of organic livestock. There is a requirement for training of advisors and inspectors in the use of basic epidemiological methods to achieve this.
6. It would be appropriate, as part of a farm health plan, for organic farmers to report on post-mortem findings when animals are sent for slaughter. The feasibility of introducing post-mortem reports as a requirement for organic certification of abattoirs should be investigated.
7. Organic farmers should be required to participate in regional and national health schemes provided these are acceptable under organic standards.
Research recommendations
1. The overall research emphasis should be focused on innovative research aimed at positive health care or health and welfare promoting husbandry rather than on lengthy and expensive efficacy studies of alternative treatments.
2. With regard to surveillance:
a) Recent converters and farms in-conversion should be surveyed in order to identify and monitor emerging health, welfare and production constraints.
b) There should be continued epidemiological surveillance of key production diseases such as mastitis and lameness.
3. Further research into bovine mastitis is required in order to:
a) develop alternative methods for mastitis control without antibiotic dry cow therapy;
b) investigate the perception and importance of somatic cell count control strategies on organic dairy farms.
4. Breeding studies specific to the requirement of organic ruminant systems should be conducted that focus on the relationship between disease resistance and commercial traits.
5. The assessment of nutritional deficiencies in organic systems and the development of alternative approaches to mineral/nutrient supplementation are required. Epidemiological studies should be combined with soil and herbage surveys in order to assess the extent of this problem on organic farms.
6. Alternative approaches for internal parasite control in organic systems requires a continued research effort and should focus on livestock breeding, biological control and the use of novel plants and plant extracts.
7. Animal welfare research should focus on:
a) The development of animal welfare assessment methods as part of the on-farm management system, to provide producers, advisors and policy-makers with a tool to assist in efforts to achieve improved animal welfare. This should include an evaluation of the appropriateness of existing European methods to the UK.
b) The development of welfare-friendly production systems, including housing and husbandry strategies suitable for organic systems.
8. A large number of producers are currently using alternative treatments as well established strategies. These strategies should be recorded, monitored and evaluated before embarking on efficacy testing of selected treatments.
9. Suitable animal health plans should be developed for farms during conversion so as to ensure the eradication and control of key diseases.
10. There is a need for the development of technical and advisory material for producers, advisors and veterinarians.

EPrint Type:Report
Keywords:standards, animal, health, welfare, husbandry, surveillance, mastitis, sheep scab, animal health planmonitoring
Subjects: Knowledge management > Education, extension and communication
Animal husbandry > Health and welfare
Research affiliation: UK > Univ. Reading, VEERU
Research funders: UK > Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
Project ID:OF0172
Start Date:1 October 1998
End Date:31 March 1999
Deposited By: Defra, R&D Organic Programme
ID Code:9964
Deposited On:13 Dec 2006
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:34
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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