The recent development and growth oforganic livestock farming and the relateddevelopment of national and internationalregulations has fueled discussions amongscientists and philosophers concerning theproper conceptualization of animal welfare.These discussions on livestock welfare inorganic farming draw on the conventionaldiscussions and disputes on animal welfare thatinvolve issues such as different definitions ofwelfare (clinical health, absence of suffering,sum of positive and negative experiences,etc.), the possibility for objective measuresof animal welfare, and the acceptable level ofwelfare. It seems clear that livestock welfareis a value-laden concept and (...) that animalwelfare science cannot be made independent ofquestions of values and ethics. The questioninvestigated here is whether those values thatunderpin organic farming, in particular, alsoaffect the interpretation of livestock welfare,and, if so, how. While some of the issuesraised in connection with organic farming arerelatively uncontroversial, others are not. Theintroduction of organic farming values seems tointroduce new criteria for what counts as goodanimal welfare, as well as a different ethicalbasis for making moral decisions on welfare.Organic farming embodies distinctive systemicor communitarian ethical ideas and the organicvalues are connected to a systemic conceptionof nature, of agriculture, of the farm, and ofthe animal. The new criteria of welfare arerelated to concepts such as naturalness,harmony, integrity, and care. While the organicvalues overlap with those involved in theconventional discussion of animal welfare, someof them suggest a need to set new prioritiesand to re-conceptualize animal welfare – forexample, with respect to ``naturalness,'''' inrelation to the possibilities for expression ofnatural behavior and in relation to animalintegrity as a concept for organismic harmony.The organic perspective also seems to suggest awider range of solutions to welfare problemsthan changes in farm routines or operations onthe animals. The systemic solutions include thechoice and reproduction of suitable breeds,changes in the farm structure, and changes inthe larger production and consumption system – including consumer perceptions andpreferences. But the organic values may alsocall for sacrifices of individual welfare in aconventional sense in order to advance welfarefrom the perspective of organic farming.Whether this is good or bad cannot be decidedwithout entering into an inquiry and discussionof the values and ethics involved. (shrink)
In 2005, The International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM) developed four new ethical principles of organic agriculture to guide its future development: the principles of health, ecology, care, and fairness. The key distinctive concept of animal welfare in organic agriculture combines naturalness and human care, and can be linked meaningfully with these principles. In practice, a number of challenges are connected with making organic livestock systems work. These challenges are particularly dominant in immature agro-ecological systems, for example those that (...) are characterized by industrialization and monoculture. Some of the current challenges are partly created by shortages of land and manure, which encourage zero-grazing and other confined systems. Other challenges are created in part by the conditions for farming and the way in which global food distribution systems are organized, e.g., how live animals are transported, how feed is traded and transported all over the globe, and the development of infrastructure and large herds. We find that the overall organic principles should be included when formulating guidelines for practical organic animal farming. This article explores how the special organic conceptions of animal welfare are related to the overall principles of organic agriculture. The aim is to identify potential routes for future development of organic livestock systems in different contexts and with reference to the specific understanding of animal welfare in organic agriculture. We include two contrasting cases represented by organic livestock systems in northwestern Europe and farming systems in tropical low-income countries; we use these cases to explore the widely different challenges of organic livestock systems in different parts of the world. (shrink)
During the past few years,organic dairy farming has grown dramatically inDenmark. Consequently, an increasing number ofpeople are encountering this method ofproduction for the first time. Amongst these,many veterinarians have suddenly had to dealwith organic herds in their home district, and,meeting examples of poor animal welfare, theyhave recently started to express some concerns.