Better For Animals

ORGANIC STANDARDS FOR FARM ANIMALS

Farm Animals account for around 30% of all antibiotics used in the UK*189
agroforestry-organic-farming_edited.jpg

ANTIBIOTICS IN FARMING

The overuse of antibiotics in human and animal medicine is undermining their ability to cure life-threatening infections. The more sparingly we use our antibiotics, the more effective they will remain.

 

In intensive farming systems, to compensate for animals being housed in more crowded conditions where infections spread fast, antibiotics can be used as a preventative measure - before animals show signs of illness - or for group treatments after a disease outbreak which could have been avoided had the animals been kept in better conditions in the first place.

Thanks to higher animal welfare standards which reduce the risk of disease, the preventative use of antibiotics is banned in organic farming.

The Soil Association Organic Standards for Animals.

Soil Association Logo - Working With Organic Yard
Soil Association Logo - Working With Organic Yard
Soil Association Logo - Working With Organic Yard
Soil Association Logo - Working With Organic Yard
Soil Association Logo - Working With Organic Yard
Soil Association Logo - Working With Organic Yard
Soil Association Logo - Working With Organic Yard
Soil Association Logo - Working With Organic Yard
Soil Association Logo - Working With Organic Yard
Soil Association Logo - Working With Organic Yard
Soil Association Logo - Working With Organic Yard
Soil Association Logo - Working With Organic Yard
Soil Association Logo - Working With Organic Yard
Soil Association Logo - Working With Organic Yard
Soil Association Logo - Working With Organic Yard
Soil Association Logo - Working With Organic Yard

Organic standards mean that farm animals:

 

  • Must have access to pasture (whenweather and ground conditions permit) *172 and are truly free-range

  • Must have plenty of space (indoors and outdoors)*176 – which helps to reduce stress and disease*174

  • Are fed a diet that is as natural as possible

  • Graze and forage naturally on organic pasture (grasses and other crops) where only natural fertilisers are used and pesticides are severely restricted

  • Must not routinely be given antibiotics.*175 In 2017 farm animals accounted for around 30% of all

  • antibiotics used in the UK.*176

  • Organic farming has high standards of animal welfare*177

  • Organic animals are fed a natural, organic and completely GM-free diet*178

  • Organic farmers always provide enough light, space and comfort to allow farm animals freedom to move and express their natural behaviours*179

  • Organic animals enjoy plenty of fresh air and have space to graze and roam, satisfying their natural instincts*180

  • Organic animals are able to satisfy their natural behaviours such as grazing, rooting, dust- bathing and perching. This means there is no need for painful mutilations such as tail-docking or beak trimming*181

  • Organic systems provide the environments animals need, which means they don’t need to undergo painful mutilations*182

  • Organic farmers reduce stress and disease in animals by giving them plenty of space and allowing them to behave naturally in a suitable environment, meaning there is no need for preventative antibiotics. An animal is only treated with medicine if it is sick*183

  • Soil Association standards restrict the use of antibiotics (such as Colistin) that are critically important for human health*184

  • Organic farming standards ban the routine use of antibiotics and wormers*185 which helps minimise antimicrobial resistance and protects the effectiveness of these treatments

  • Organic standards ban the use of cloning and embryo transfer*1856

  • The Soil Association has the highest standards for animal welfare in the UK.*187

  • Ensuring all animals reared for meat and animal products have a good life is at the heart of
    Soil Association standards
    *188

 

           Note: at the time of writing in June 2020, these are the most up to date figures, but please check for updated figures if using this stat in the years to come.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Claims which are based on the higher standards of the Soil Association are italicised and in bold and marked with the Soil Association organic symbol and they do not apply across all organic farming.

Free Range Chicken

FREE-RANGE

Free-range is pivotal to organic animal welfare and the Soil Association has very particular standards to ensure all livestock is treated with the respect they deserve.

logos-soil_association_200x200.png
logos-soil_association_200x200.png
logos-soil_association_200x200.png
logos-soil_association_200x200.png
logos-soil_association_200x200.png
  • Always free-range*190

  • Organic animals have a truly free-range life*191

  • Organic animals must have permanent access to pasture whenever conditions allow*192

  • Animals reared organically are encouraged to forage and graze*193

  • Organic standards insist that animals are given plenty of space and fresh air to thrive and grow – guaranteeing a truly free-range life*194

PLEASE NOTE: Claims which are based on the higher standards of the Soil Association are italicised and in bold and marked with the Soil Association organic symbol and they do not apply across all organic farming.

PIGS

Organic farms using crop rotation means the pigs don't stay on the same land for very long and as a result they hardly have to use any antibiotics because disease and pests are kept to a minimum.

logos-soil_association_200x200.png
logos-soil_association_200x200.png
  • Pigs raised to organic standards do not have their tails docked (cut short), teeth cut or have painful nose rings fitted. Organic farmers reduce stress by giving pigs plenty of space and the opportunity to express their natural behaviours*195

  • Pigs reared in organic systems are weaned much later than standard ones, at 40 days rather than as early as 21 days*196 The Soil Association advises its farmers not to wean pigs until they are eight weeks old. This allows the piglets to develop at a natural pace, reducing stress and disease and notably, antibiotic use*197

 

PLEASE NOTE: Claims which are based on the higher standards of the Soil Association are italicised and in bold and marked with the Soil Association organic symbol and they do not apply across all organic farming.

Image by Annie Spratt
organic-cow.jpg
Organic cows spend as much time outdoors as possible*198

COWS

When it comes to organic animals are not stressed or overworked, they get to live long, healthy lives, and are given the space and freedom to explore their surroundings by being completely free-range.

logos-soil_association_200x200.png
logos-soil_association_200x200.png
logos-soil_association_200x200.png
logos-soil_association_200x200.png
logos-soil_association_200x200.png
logos-soil_association_200x200.png
  • Organic cows spend as much time outdoors as possible*198

  • Cows are fed a grass-rich, GM free diet*199  (minimum 60% grass-based)

  • ‘Zero-grazing’, where cows are kept indoors and cut grass or other feed, such as cereals and soya is taken to them, is banned by organic standards*200

  • Calves must be fed natural, organic milk, preferably maternal milk, for a minimum period of 12 weeks*201

  • Soil Association standards state that farmers must have a plan in place for unwanted male dairy calves*202

  • Organic cows eat mainly grass (the organic standard requires 60% forage in the diet), while non-organic cows are generally given more concentrated feed (on average a third more) in order to increase milk production. This means organic dairy has lower (on average 20% lower) but more sustainable, milk yield, which helps to protect the animals’ health and welfare*203

 

PLEASE NOTE: Claims which are based on the higher standards of the Soil Association are italicised and in bold and marked with the Soil Association organic symbol and they do not apply across all organic farming.

CHICKENS & EGGS

Poultry raised on certified organic farms differs hugely from fee-range, with the strict standards of the Soil Association ensuring that organic chickens live happier, healthier and longer lives with more access to space and freedom, better treatment and natural feeding. 

logos-soil_association_200x200.png
logos-soil_association_200x200.png
logos-soil_association_200x200.png
logos-soil_association_200x200.png
logos-soil_association_200x200.png
logos-soil_association_200x200.png
logos-soil_association_200x200.png
logos-soil_association_200x200.png
logos-soil_association_200x200.png
logos-soil_association_200x200.png
logos-soil_association_200x200.png
  • Organic chickens are much more than free-range. They live in smaller flocks, have better access to fresh air and the outdoors and more space in their houses than non- organic chickens*204

  • Organic chickens are never caged*205 

  • Organic chickens have a third more space indoors than free-range birds*206

  • Organic poultry must have continuous and easy, daytime access to a diverse outdoor range. Organic farms certified by the Soil Association also have to provide more pop holes (exits from*207 the hen house) than free-range farms do , to encourage and promote ranging*208

  • Organic chickens are not allowed to be fed on GM feed (which is common in free-range and non-organic hens)*209

  • Organic farming encourages poultry/chicken breeds that are slower growing, and more robust.*210 Organic meat chickens live twice as long as most intensively farmed chickens*211

  • Organic laying hens are kept in smaller flocks with more space (max 3,000 vs 16,000 in free- range systems)*212

  • Soil Association certified poultry raised for meat are kept in smaller flocks (max 1,000 birds) and have more space than free-range birds*213

  • Poultry must be given access to an outdoor range as early as possible*214

  • Chickens must not have their beaks trimmed to try and prevent feather pecking*215 and are given plenty of opportunities to express their natural behaviours such as foraging, bathing in the dust outside and pecking at insects and worms on diverse ranges*216

  • Organic chicken flocks are eight times smaller than free-range flocks.*217 This is important as the health of individual birds is much more easily managed within a smaller flock.

organic-eggs.jpg
Copy of Organic_Soil.png
Advertisement 
REFERENCES

*172. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.6.1

*173. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.8

*174. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.10

*175. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.4.3

*176. Percentage worked out based on the figures from the UK Government’s One Health report, for further information contact marketing@soilassociation.org

*177. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.5

*178. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.10

*179. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.8

*180. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.6

*181. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.5.3 and 3.5.4

*182. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.5.3 and 3.5.4

*183. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.4.3

*184. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.4

*185. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.4.5

*186. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.4.10

*187. Compassion in World Farming (2012) Farm Assurance Schemes and Animal Welfare: How the standards compare available online. 

*188. Farm Animal Welfare in Great Britain: Past, Present & Future, the Farm Animal Welfare Council, Oct 2009, Part III, “A good life”, Pg 16

*189. Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, ‘The dangers of antibiotic use’

*190. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.6

*191. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.6.1

*192. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.6.1

*193. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.6.1

*194. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.6.1

*195. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.5.2

*196. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2020). Code of practice for the welfare of pigs. Page 40.

*197. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.10.9 

*198. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.6.1

*199. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.10.4 and 3.10.5

*200. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.6.1

*201. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.10.9

*202. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.5.5

*203. The Kingshay figures suggest non-organic produce 30% milk from forage compared with organic which is 41–47%. Equally concentrate use for non-organic 2683kg/cow compared with 1707 kg to 1890 kg/ per cow for organic (the higher figure was 2019 where there was forage shortage)

*204. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.12. For comparison with non-organic chickens refer to the Standards Analysis Report 2012 from Compassion in World Farming & OneKind 

*205. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.12.1

*206. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.12.5. For comparison with non-organic chickens refer to the Standards Analysis Report 2012 from Compassion in World Farming & OneKind 

*207. For comparison with non-organic chickens refer to the Standards Analysis Report 2012 from Compassion in World Farming & OneKind 

*208. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.12.14

*209. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.6.1. For comparison with non-organic chickens refer to the Standards Analysis Report 2012 from Compassion in World Farming & OneKind 

*210. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.14.3

*211. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.12.22. For comparison with non-organic chickens refer to the Standards Analysis Report 2012 from Compassion in World Farming & OneKind

*212. For comparison with non-organic chickens refer to the Standards Analysis Report 2012 from Compassion in World Farming & OneKind

*213. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.12.2

*214. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.12.11

*215. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.5.4

*216. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.5.2

*217. Soil Association Organic Standards, Version 18.3, January 2020, Chapter 3.12.2. For comparison with non-organic chickens refer to the Standards Analysis Report 2012 from Compassion in World Farming & OneKind 

 

Organic Yard