Assessing animal welfare on organic farms E15
Sundrum, A.1 & Daase, I.2
1) Institute of Organic Agriculture, Faculty of Agriculture, D-53115 Bonn, Germany; 2) Institute of Animal Hygiene, Faculty of Agriculture, D-53115 Bonn, Germany
|In Western European countries animal welfare is
one of the main topics of animal husbandry in organic agriculture. An increasing number of
consumers accept a high standard of animal welfare as a »process quality«, closely
linked to animals products and justifying premium prices. To preserve confidence in
organic products it becomes more and more relevant to ensure animal welfare appropriate
conditions on organic farms. The code of practise provide several preconditions for high
welfare standards, but are not necessarily a guarantee for appropriate housing conditions.
Based on the idea of Bartussek (1988), an indirect and integrative approach has been
developed for cattle, swine and poultry in order to establish: 1) a guideline to find the
weakpoints within housing conditions and management, 2) a concept for a comparabel
assessment between individual farms and 3) a tool to enhance advisory success (Sundrum et
al., 1994). Investigations were carried out on 64 organic dairy farms in Germany,
including 38 tied herds and 26 loose-housed herds. In general the farms showed a wide
variation in animal welfare standards, ranging from 18-93% of the maximum reachable
points. Tied herds showed significantly more inadeaquate housing conditions than
loose-housed herds. 13% of the tied herds didnt correspond to the national code of
practise. 76% of the tied herds and 15% of the loosed-housed herds showed poor animal
welfare standards. Deficiencies were found especially according to floor space, bedding
comfort and animal hygiene. No relationsship was found between animal welfare standards
and flock size.
The results indicate that it will be necessary to improve and control housing conditions on organic dairy farms, when confidence of the consumers should get lost. In most of the cases improvements can be reached without large financial investments but by enhancing management qualtities.
Bartussek, H. (1988): Haltung. In: Haiger, A., R. Storhas and H. Bartussek (eds.): Naturgemäße Viehwirtschaft. Ulmer-Verlag, ISBN 3-8001-4359-3, p.147.
Sundrum, A., R. Andersson and G. Postler (1994): Tiergerechtheitsindex - 200/1994. Ein Leitfaden zur Beurteilung von Haltungssystemen. Köllen-Verlag, Bonn, ISBN 3-88579-066-1.