On Monday, England’s Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies urged consumers to buy meat from animals that have been vaccinated, rather than treated with antibiotics.
The comments have been welcomed from officials across the organic industry, including those at the Scottish Organic Producers Association (SOPA).
The rearing of organic livestock is strictly controlled by organic standards. Sick animals must be treated under veterinary supervision and the use of antibiotics is limited by the number of doses, and must be administered to specific animals.
All veterinary medicines are recorded and checked, but using medicines is a last resort for sick or injured animals, and they can only be used where there is evidence of illness, proven by medical tests such as blood tests or analysis of faeces. Organic livestock health is managed holistically; so organic farmers must provide the best shelter, food and care to their animals to avoid sickness and injury wherever possible, and livestock health is based on the day-to-day care of the animals’ environment to ensure less risk of illness.
Management practices such as rotational grazing mean the organic farmer attempts to prevent disease, rather than resorting to regular use of antibiotics or anthelmintics.
Debs Roberts, Policy Manager at SOPA had the following to say about the comments:
“We are always looking to promote the benefits of organic food and farming across the UK, and the focus of good welfare practices is really important to us at SOPA, as well as our members.”
“It’s important to understand the impact that continued use of antibiotics can have not only on livestock, but also as it passes through the ecosystem. We believe that care of livestock is paramount, but also that use of antibiotics and veterinary medicines must be managed.”