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Organic farming: which side of the hedge?
  1. Andrew Butterworth
  1. Clinical Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Langford, North Somerset BS40 5DU
  1. e-mail: andy.butterworth{at}

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Organic farming of livestock has pros and cons; the benefits or otherwise need to be assessed in terms of the outcome for the animal, says Andrew Butterworth

IF you were an animal reared on an organic farm, would you look over the hedge and say, ‘I wish I was over there – life looks healthier on the conventional side?’ Organic principles should not get in the way of good levels of animal care and prevention and rapid and effective treatment of disease. For an animal there may be better, and worse, aspects of being farmed organically. How do these sides balance?

Council Regulation (EC) No 834/20071 details the conditions separating organic from conventional production (European Commission 2007). In the UK there are currently 10 certification bodies able to approve producers and processors to organic standards. During a farm visit (sometimes more than one) in each certification period, the assessor looks at the land, the animal housing, the records and, to an extent, also looks …

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