Organic Livestock and Poultry Farming
BY CABMELA ABAYGAR
Here’s an in-depth look at the world of organic farming for both livestock and organic.
Organic farmers should promote animal well-being throughout the farm. This may be done by minimizing physical and psychological stress on the animals and reducing the incidence of disease. Also, when animals are not stressed, veterinary bills are reduced and meat tenderness is maintained.
Pain and stress relief Conventional farming practices such as castrating, marking and mulesing, if it cannot be avoided, should be kept to a minimum.
Physical alternations should be provided as needed to promote the animal’s welfare and in a manner that reduces pain and stress. Anesthetics lidocaine and procaine are allowed to be used for pain reduction. Chlorohexidine is also allowed for surgical procedures conducted by a veterinarian, as well as a number of other topical disinfectants.
Also, stress during handling can be minimized by reducing noise and not rushing stock through gateways.
Animals also experience stress when in transport going to market and during slaughter. Stress must be minimized during this period. Slaughter must be done quickly and without unnecessary stress. Animals should not be placed in an area where slaughter of other animals can be seen.
The farm should have living conditions for animals such that their needs for free movement, food, water, shelter and shade are provided. Also, the farmer must be aware of the animals’ specific natural behavior patterns. Living conditions that accommodate the health and natural behavior of the animals should be provided.
Ruminant such as cattle and swine should have access to pasture. Animals should also be provided access to shade and shelter, as well as exercise areas, fresh air, and direct sunlight.
The shelter should be designed to accommodate the natural maintenance, comfort behaviors, and opportunity to exercise. Animals should be provided with adequate space to be able to stand up, lie down, turn around, groom, and engage in other natural behavior. Tie stall are considered inappropriate.
Temperature level in shelters should be maintained. Ventilation and air circulation should be suitable to the species. Equipment and facilities provided must also limit the possibility of injuries in the livestock. These should be suitable to the species, its stage of production, the climate, and the environment. Clean, dry bedding should be provided, and if the bedding can be eaten, then it is required to be organically produced.
Animals may be confined only on a temporary basis and then only in the following conditions:
1. Inclement weather
2. The animal’s stage of production
3. Conditions under which the health, safety, or well being of the animal could be put at risk
4. Risk to soil or water quality
Shade and shelter for poultry and livestock should be provided so that they are protected from excessive sunlight, extreme temperature, wind, rain, and bad weather conditions. Windbreaks and housing should also be provided. Poultry should also be protected from predator animals such as dogs.
Along with maintaining stocking densities, grazing lands rotation, manure management is a way to sustain the resource, nourish the animals, and maintain soil and water quality.
The materials used for disinfecting livestock facilities should be non- synthetic or they should be on the National List and consistently used with any restrictions. Currently, the only synthetic equipment and facility cleaners allowed are chlorine products such as sodium hypochlorite, calcium hypochlorite, and chlorine dioxide; hydrogen peroxide, and phosphoric acid.
Food safety concern is the biggest industry mover for organic products. The health trend all over the world has greatly affected the increasing demand for organic meat. Consumers are becoming more and more aware that livestock like chicken, pigs and cattle that are grown in chemical-industrial animal farming systems are also sources of chemicals harmful to health such as growth hormones, steroids, synthetic vitamins and minerals.
Compared to other countries, the Philippine organic market is still in its incubation period. However, reports indicate the demand for organic product still exceeds current local production.
Exports in 2001 have been recorded to be at P 250M or US$ 6.2M. This number reached 118$ M in 2003. The export marketability growth of the industry is estimated to be at io% to 20% annually. Imports, however, are recorded t be at around P 150M.
The Center for International Trade and Exposition Mission (CITEM) of the Department of Trade and Industry has been hosting the BioSearch Exhibitions for the promotion of organic products every year since 1997. This endeavor allows small growers and manufacturers to display and promote their organic products.
Quality’ consistency is the biggest factor affecting marketability and quality of production to maintain product integrity. Suppliers improve product consistency by designating a number of finishing-off properties located near processors and by developing a common genetic base. To maintain product quality and supply consistency, producers are recommended to establish and maintain marketing alliances. Producers are also recommended to develop marketing specifications and pathways. This allows consumers access to a range of products and a continuous supply throughout the year.
Production and supply conduits Before the producer starts an endeavor in this business, there are four integral questions he must first need to answer:
1. Who is the consumer?
2. What product will you sell?
3. Where is the location of the prospective market/
4. How will the product be processed and brought to the market?
To further elaborate on conducting a successful marketing campaign, producers must also consider the following important factors:
Communication avenues and documentations should be developed to facilitate the marketing process. The origin of the product needs to be verifiable; therefore a system of full- traceability is important. The producer must be able to prove the organic history of the product to encourage consumer confidence in the product. This can be achieved by procuring an organic certification. The supplier and produces will also need to work hand in hand for the marketing and promotion of the product. For the marketing strategy, a professional marketing consultant may be hired. Marketing implements such as logos and labels may also be used to tell the farm’s origins and story..
2. Processing specifications
The producer must develop specifications that establish the guidelines at key points in the production. These include the farm transport, slaughter, boning room, any further processing, packaging, distribution, treatment by the retailer/ purchaser. The producer should also consider the display of the product. Maintaining an awareness of how the product is performing at all key points is very important. Feedback sheets and surveys also provide an opportunity to gauge consumer response to the product, but can also be included at other key points in the pathway.
3. The consumer
Consumers must be willing to pay for organic product. This tends to Iimit markets to health conscious, middle and upper class consumers. The producer needs to identify where the greatest demand is and what type of product be in demand. The product needs to ha purchasing appealing packaging presentation and the like). The product must also work on the product’s credibility to instill product confidence to consumers. Additional information on how to handle, store and cook the product may also be included on the label. When the consumer is happy with the product, they are more likely to come back and purchase more.
Some products in the market are being passed as organic when they are not. The producer must be able to provide proof that the product’s organic status is authentic. This may be done by procuring accreditation and providing correct information on the label.