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Book of Abstracts

11th IFOAM
Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996
Copenhagen, Denmark

Abstract front page
Subject index
Athor index

Special Presentations

Animal Health F11

Boehncke, Engelhard1; Krutzinna Christian2

1) Universität Gesamthochschule Kassel, Fachbereich Landwirtschaft, Internationale Agrarentwicklung und Ökologische Umweltsicherung, 2) Fachgebiet Ökologische Tierhaltung, Nordbahnhofstraße 1a, D-37213 Witzenhausen, Germany

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In the early days of organic farming, health problems in plants, animals or in the farmer's family belonged to the most important reasons for converting farms. But nevertheless organic farming has treated crop rotations, soil fertility, and plant health as more important than animal health. Out of several reasons, today animal health is more important than ever before. First of all because organic agriculture has to demonstrate that it represents the agriculture of the future. But also because animal health is a comprehensive indicator of successful organic animal husbandry. Last but not least there is a strong obligation to the animals as well as to the consumers. There is a close relation between animal nutrition and health. Therefore the quality of farm-grown feedingstuffs deserves as much attention as the quality of human foodstuffs. Moreover, the fields of breeding, housing and veterinary medicine strongly influence the health status of farm animals. The concepts of animal health in organic agriculture have to be significantly different from the current conventional ones. If we define animal health as the mere absence of disease, animal diseases can be prevented and fought by all means. Thus all kinds of remedies and drugs are used just to keep animals alife. In some areas of conventional animal production, such as broilers, turkeys, veal calves, and fattening pigs, the animal's life span is so short that it is difficult to know whether these poor creatures are healthy or not. There are several open questions with respect to animal health in organic agriculture. The most urgent one is why animal health is not better in organic farms. But before diseases are treated, the possibilities of prevention in the areas of feeding, housing, breeding and caretaking should be exhausted. Only after having tried this, the use of homeopathy, acupuncture, and herb medicine should be seen as a solution for health problems.