Organic livestock systems are designed to be integral to the whole farm system. Animals make profitable use of fertility building grass/clover leys by grazing them and return an energy source and nutrients to the land in the form of manure. Crops make use of the nutrients and in return help to prevent parasite build up.
Unlike conventional livestock systems organic animals cannot be routinely treated with prophylactic drugs (drugs used as a preventative rather than a cure) and the blanket use of antibiotics as growth promoters is banned. Livestock health should be maintained by good husbandry and stockmanship, appropriate feed and by using breeds of animals that can cope with their environment that have not been bred as production machines. Mutilations such as tail docking, teeth clipping and de-beaking are forbidden.
All British organic livestock is able to range freely. Animals must be slow growing; conventional chickens reach the supermarket shelves 6 weeks after hatching. Feed is not allowed to contain genetically modified ingredients and any genetic manipulation of animals is prohibited.
The Organic Research Centre has been working to make meat, milk and eggs more economically and environmentally sustainable whilst maintaining the highest welfare standards. We have been working on areas such as poultry in agroforestry systems and replacing concentrate feeds with home-grown grain in pig and poultry systems.We are currently involved in an international dairy project which sees The Organic Research Centre returning to its roots as Elm Farm started life with us as a dairy farm, and we were one of the founding members of the organic milk suppliers co-op OMSCo.
ORC staff involvedKatharine Leach, Rebecca Nelder, Susanne Padel, Bruce Pearce
|Project title (acronym)||Funder||Description|
|Sustainable Organic and Low Input Dairying (SOLID)||EC FP 7||Improving the technical performance and economic competitiveness of organic and low input dairy systems in Europe while maximising their potential to deliver environmental goods and enhance biodiversity. Includes a large component of farmer participation.|
|Improved contribution of local feed to support 100% organic feed supply to pigs and poultry (ICOPP)||Defra for UK work as part of the Core Organic II||The aim of ICOPP is to produce economically profitable feeding strategies based on 100% organic feed across Europe, which will supply poultry and pigs the required level of nutrients throughout their lives while supporting high animal health and welfare.|
Leach, Katharine; Barker, Zoe; Maggs, Clare; Sedgwick, Anouska; Whay, Helen; Bell, Nick and Main, David (2012) Activities of organic farmers succeeding in reducing lameness in dairy cows. In: Rahmann, Gerold and Godinho, D (Eds.) Agriculture and Forestry Research (362), pp. 143-146.
Organic Farming Technical Guide – Organic poultry production for meat. Steve Merritt, Welsh Poultry Centre; Rebecca Kelly, Organic Research Centre Elm Farm; Simon Moakes, IBERS; Tony Little (Editor). Available in English and Welsh www.organiccentrewales.org.uk/uploads/poultry_guide_english.pdf
Institute of Organic Training & Advice: Research Review: Poultry Management. Author Rebecca Kelly, Organic Research Centre, Elm Farm www.organicadvice.org.uk/papers/Res_review_24_poultry.pdf