Beef cattle

An organic beef system allows cows and their calves to graze pasture for most of their lives. The fattening process can be completed in well-bedded spacious yards, providing this period does not exceed a fifth of their lifetime. Organic cattle do not have to be housed during the winter, but if they are kept outside, there must be shelter, food and water.

The Soil Association believes that the natural health and vitality of farm livestock is based on sound nutrition from before conception and throughout life. And, as with organic dairy cows, at least 60% of the cows' diet must consist of fodder, roughage or silage, with a maximum of 40% concentrates, and their entire diet must be 100% organic.

Intestinal worms are a common problem in all cattle and can be avoided on organic farms by rotating the pastures and also allowing the calves to develop a natural immunity from their mothers. Rotating pastures means moving animals to different fields on the farm so that worms or disease problems do not build up on one particular field or area.

Calves

Organic farmers tend to rear their beef cattle as suckler herds. This is where a cow suckles its calf until it is weaned at around nine months of age, then fattened. The cattle are usually kept in family groups up to weaning. This means they can follow their natural herding instincts and reduce stress.