Organic Livestock: Is organic livestock production more humane than conventional?

Organic Livestock

Organic Livestock; is production more humane than conventional? Many consumers buy organic meat and dairy products with particular animal welfare expectations. Similarly, I have heard many encouraging organic producers who state that they are interested in organic and conventional production because Organic is a much more humane way to raise animals.

No organic livestock production as mandated by the Organic Program (NPP) and animal welfare.

It’s something to take seriously if you’re interested in organic production for animal welfare reasons.

  • The official definition of certified organic

Certified Organic is an official regulatory label and certification. However, while organic certification includes many rules and practices for organic livestock producers, “humanely raised” is not one of these standards.

Livestock Methods Organic certification

USDA mandates specific living conditions for organic Livestock, including access to pasture, shade, and indoor shelter. Exercise areas and living conditions must be appropriate for Livestock based on lifestyle, climate, and environment.

The NOP covers the health and care of organic Livestock. They include issues such as feeding, living conditions, type of medication allowed, and other basic training.

The most important of all the NOP’s health rules is that a producer may not treat an organic animal to keep it organic.

If a producer has tried organic medicine and fails, they must treat the animal with conventional medicine. Most of the NOP’s animal welfare regulations likely are because it cares about animal health more than organic certification.

Animal Safety Standards, NOT Organic Certification

All organic livestock regulations, including pasture access, have severe loopholes that work against animal welfare.

The giant loophole is likely to be that most organic livestock regulations are left to individual producers. For example, although all organic livestock producers may, of course, feed organic meals to their Livestock and source their Livestock from organic sources, other rules, such as when animals are outside and how much space they get, are primarily set and self-regulated. by individual producers.

Look at the health and general care rules for organic Livestock. You will also see that there are some significant exceptions to the rules, and these exceptions need to be fully defined. For example, the NOP states that all organic Livestock must have access to pasture. Still, exceptions include issues such as poor weather, crop timing, relocation plans if access to the field would damage the soil, and more. These exemptions are self-defined and leave the rules up to personal interpretation, which ultimately is not intended to benefit Livestock but the producer.

Many animal welfare issues are not even covered by the NOP, for example:

  • There are no regulations to protect organic male chickens in egg-laying operations. They can be ground up, gassed, cooled, thrown in a garbage bag, or disposed of negatively.
  • Organic poultry raised for meat may be kept under continuous lighting and may be overfed.
  • Some organic dairy cows may be kept in tight and small spaces, while others may be confined.
  • Organic pigs may have their flanks chopped off, and their ears notched.
  • There are no rules to protect young organic Livestock from being taken from their mother.
  • There are no regulations to protect organic poultry from having their bones trimmed.
  • Binding, dehorning, and castration without pain medication are allowed in organic production.
  • There are no rules against rough handling or ashing of organic Livestock.
  • In most cases, organic dairy cows and eggplants will eventually be killed for meat.
  • There are no rules on how an organic animal can be killed – a producer, organic or otherwise, can kill Livestock quite a lot. However, they are similar, including head trauma, living alive, shooting, and more.

The above is just the tip of a very problematic iceberg. Very few animal rights or welfare issues are addressed in the final rules. Additionally, Doris Lin points out, “In case it’s not clear: ‘Human meat’ is an oxymoron because an animal was killed to produce that meat.” That’s something to think about. Insulting is not compassionate, kind, or done concerning whatever you are killing. Hence, it is not proper to call any animal products humane.

Organic Livestock
Organic Livestock

So does animal welfare sell organically?

There are clear benefits to organic livestock production for humans, such as fewer chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones found in organic products, fossil fuels and water, and other benefits. However, in most cases, organic production is not much better for animal welfare than conventional production.

Remember that most animal advocates disagree that organic is humane regarding animal treatment. Because of this, using the humane treatment of Livestock as a selling point for organic meat, dairy, or eggs can seriously hurt you. Especially as consumers become more knowledgeable about food production and what labels mean.


In general, organic livestock production should focus on other organic outlets that only involve animal rights if you operate a dairy or egg (non-meat) operation and can demonstrate that your process goes well beyond NOP livestock training standards. In conclusion, if you are a motivated organic producer with animal welfare in mind, it is best to continue with organic farming, not Livestock, until the NOP improves organic agriculture.

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