The ORCA Centres and Topics

ORCA Centres

The eleven ORCA Centres will cover 22 topics related to organic agriculture.

 

Livestock

More than 50 percent of the world’s poor own livestock and depend on them for food, income, traction, and fertilizer. Across the world, organic livestock (our use of this term includes poultry) systems are far less developed than those for crops.

In many aspects, standards are, unfortunately, open to many interpretations and not easily enforceable. For example, the EU Regulation requires that animals be given ‘regular exercise’ and that ‘appropriate breeds’ be used, yet there is no clear definition of either of these dictates. However, high priorities for organic livestock are clear. Due to organic prohibitions on certain veterinary drugs, health care protocols must be developed for each species, including research on alternative and complementary methods of disease prevention, effective non-chemical parasiticides, and preventive health care practices.

Development of rations and feeding strategies to reduce the incidence of harmful pathogens and breeding programmes for organic animals are needed. Improvements in animal housing, husbandry, and better understanding of mixed crop and livestock systems are also important. Especially key in arid and semi-arid areas is the development of feeding strategies that provide adequate nutrition and high livestock productivity given the environmental constraints.

Most of the research on organic livestock is occurring in temperate areas. Though arid areas are largely dependent on livestock, little research is being done on organically raised livestock.

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