Higher animal welfare
Organic standards insist that animals are given plenty of space and fresh air to thrive and grow - guaranteeing a truly free-range life.
Animal welfare is at the heart of organic systems. In fact, no system of farming has higher levels of animal welfare standards than organic farms working to Soil Association standards.
Organic is about producing food that is good for you, good for animals and good for the environment. When you buy Soil Association certified meat and dairy products, the animals have been fed a healthy diet, there is no factory farming, they have had access to the outdoors, and have been cared for in ways that reduce stress and disease.
Under organic rules, all aspects of animal welfare are tightly controlled, including rearing, shelter, feeding, transportation and slaughter. Ensuring good health is better than relying on drugs to treat disease, which is why we put so much emphasis on practices that encourage healthy farm animals. Organic farmers do this in many practical ways, such as keeping numbers down to reduce stress, providing appropriate nutritious feed and ensuring easy access to the outdoors. Organic animals cannot be given growth promoting hormones, regular doses of antibiotics or genetically modified (GM) feed.
Sick animals are treated using homeopathic and complementary remedies, unless a vet says an animal needs antibiotics; in which case they must be given. To ensure that no residues are left, a set period of time has to pass before the animal can produce products for sale as organic. These are on average three times as long as those required by law for non-organic food.
"Organic farming has the potential to offer the very highest standards of welfare. We believe the Soil Association's welfare standards are the leaders in the field" Joyce d'Silva, Director Compassion in World Farming
If you're interested in encouraging the highest levels of animal welfare on farms, the most direct action you can take is to choose organic when you buy meat or dairy products. Make our pledge to buy more organic products in your weekly shopping and support a more respectful and compassionate approach to our farm animals on the right hand side of this page.
You can also find out more about the organic approach to animal welfare on the following pages.