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Animal Welfare

The second issue I want to tackle is animal welfare, intensive methods of farming animals have lead again to great increases in productivity. But there is a price to pay in terms of animal welfare. The way that animals are treated is totally different in organic farming compared with intensive farming. Organic regulations have strict guidelines regarding the way animals are kept, transported, fed, bred, treated when ill - the satisfaction of all the animals needs including their behavioural needs.

Chickens - Organic Farms v Intensive Farms

Lets start with poultry, chickens that are kept for slaughtering are housed in sheds. There are up to 25,000 birds in one shed, and they are very very tightly packed in so much so that the floor is invisible. The birds are under so much stress etc around 100,000 birds die every day from heart failure, disease and afflictions cause by intensive farming methods. The cock birds that are used to bread broiler chickens are kept in a state of chronic hunger and this hunger heightens their aggression and causes feather pecking. Because of this pecking farmers sometimes clip off the male birds beak. About a third of the beak is clipped using a hot wire guillotine, this alone can cause the birds to die of shock straight away. The birds that do survive suffer for months, even years to come because the nerves in the beak are still active. The cock birds are also kept in semi-darkness to stop aggression and feather pecking. Intensive methods also use many different types of drugs to stop and treat illness, even if the birds are not ill they still get the drugs. These different kinds of drugs can on their own cause more illnesses in the birds.

Birds that are kept for eggs spend their lives in very small cages, each chicken lives in an area the size of an A4 sheet of paper - and sometimes even less! Turkeys are also kept in similar conditions to intensively farmed broiler chickens, they too suffer much the same way. Due to overcrowding, a lack of dry litter and aggressive behaviour.

Organic farms are required to practice high standards of animal husbandry. Organic farms house birds in exceptionally low densities, this stops the aggressive behaviour and feather pecking. But if feather pecking does still happen organic farmers find some other way of resolving this issue, like hanging up some cauliflowers so they peck at that instead. But if the housing of the birds is good then serious feather pecking almost never happens. The birds are allowed to roam free indulging in their natural behaviour such as eating grass, pecking at insects, bathing in dust, laying their eggs in nest boxes in quiet surroundings, spending daylight hours outside, and all the other natural needs of a bird. Good management and good nutrition keeps the birds healthy, instead of a cocktail of drugs.

Eggs - Organic Farms v Intensive Farms

Lets discuss eggs next - what is the difference between organic and 'free range' farmed eggs you ask, well here are some answers. There are specific EU regulations for both kind of farming methods. Organic and 'free range' egg farming regulations stipulate among other things the sizes of the flock, how many hens should share a nest and stocking densities. They also must have access to the outside. However organic regulations compared with 'free range' regulations go further in a number of inportant ways. Also you should make sure that you are not mislead in the supermarket/shop, eggs labelled as 'fresh country eggs', 'farm fresh eggs' and similar statements are not free range, so don't assume they are.

Organic faming regulations stipulate that the flock size and stocking densities must be even smaller than 'free range', this helps to keep the birds healthier and less stressed. As I mentioned in another artical feather pecking can be a direct result of high flock sizes and stocking densities, which can result in the birds being seriously injured and even killed. Beak trimming is a common practice even in 'free range' farms and this is a barbaric way of stopping the birds pecking at each other. Also can somtimes lead to death because of shock, or months, even years of suffering due to the amount of nerves in their beak. Organic farms that have been certified by the Soil Association have to provide more exits from the hen house (pop holes) than 'free range' farms do, this ensures that their access to pasture is not restricted. Also generally speaking if they are kept in larger flocks less birds tend to go outside.


Organic Farming Pages - Topics & Content

Organic Farms Page 1

For and Against Organic Farming - advantages and disadvantages


Organic Farms Page 2:

Animal Welfare

Chickens - Organic Farms v Intensive Farms

Eggs - Organic Farms v Intensive Farms


Organic Farms Page 3:

Pigs - Organic Farms v Intensive Farms

Homeopathy used in Organic Farms

Arguements Against Organic farms

Organic Lettuce - E. Coli Debate


Organic Farms Page 4:

Antibiotics used in Intensive Farms

Regulatory Muddle

The sources of Contamination

Which eggs are affected?



Organic Farms Page 5:

Antibiotic Residues and our Health


Organic Farms Page 6:

Key Recommendations - Bans and Restrictions:

Key Recommendations - The Veterinary Profession


Organic Farms Page 7:

Food Quality and your Health

Antibiotic use is cut in organic farming

GMO's banned in organic farming

BSE - organically reared or born cattle are BSE free

Food poisoning risks are minimised by using organic standards and methods

Organic farming nurtures the soil

Organic farming returns nutrients to the soil

Organic farming rotates crops





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