EAP Publications | Virtual Library | Magazine Rack | Search | What's newJoin the Ecological Solutions Roundtable
These livestock husbandry codes have been drafted by the farm animal welfare/bioethics division of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in collaboration with the Organic Foods Production Association of North America (OFPANA) and the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA). This document has been reviewed and valuable input added by a number of individuals and organizations including: Detlef Folsch, G. van Putten, A. J. F. Webster, David Wood-Gush and Robert A. Brown, FACT. These standards will continue to be reviewed and revised following further research developments in the animal science, welfare and ethology fields. These guidelines and recommendations will be adopted by farmers who recognize the benefits of doing so as well as their responsibilities for compassionate farm animal husbandry.
a. Livestock and poultry must be provided with living conditions which respect their physical and behavioral needs: reasonable liberty and lack of crowding, adequate shelter, nutritious food, a humane death -and good stewardship from responsible caretakers.
b. Livestock and poultry should have access, when seasonally appropriate, to sunshine, fresh air, soil, fresh plants, etc., and access to shelter when weather conditions are inclement to protect them from temperature extremes. When indoor housing systems are used, animals must, at minimum, be regularly exposed to natural light conditions.
c. The living conditions for livestock and poultry should be consistent with the "five freedoms of movement" (Thorpe, 1969): freedom to stretch all limbs, freedom to groom, freedom to turn around, freedom of access to adequate ventilation and light, and freedom of access to adequate food and water.
d. New technology must be adapted to the animals rather than the reverse. New innovations, furthermore, must be tested for animal safety and protection purposes prior to on-farm use.
a. Animals should be raised on an organic diet to maximize their health and nutritional state. These animals are, in turn, healthier and safer sources of food for the humans who consume them.
b. Plastic roughage, urea, intentional manure refeeding, and similar practices are not permitted.
c. An adequate and continually accessible water supply is essential for livestock and poultry of all ages. In colder climates, the water source may need a heating device or protection to remain unfrozen.
d. Newborn mammals must be permitted to receive an adequate amount of colostrum within the first several hours of birth. Early weaning (under 4 weeks for piglets, 3 months for beef cattle or 2 months for sheep and goats) is not permitted.
f. Milk replacers can be fed to young mammals, only if they are based on whole or skim dried milk and contain no antibiotics or other artificial ingredients (with the exception of iron supplementation when needed). Otherwise, whole fresh milk is to be fed.
a. Vitamins should be provided from sprouted grains, fish liver oils, brewer's yeast or other natural sources. Synthetic vitamins may be permitted in cases of long winters, mountainous zones, or poor forage due to bad weather.
b. Synthetic growth promoters (including antibiotics and trace elements used to stimulate growth), either implanted, ingested or injected, are prohibited, except when iron supplementation is needed to prevent anemia.
.a. Whenever possible, slaughter and breeding animals should be purchased directly from farms of local producers, as auction and dealer acquisitions result in animals with greater stress and multiple disease exposure. The use of innovative methods, such as videos to show stock for sale instead of moving the animals to markets, is encouraged.
b. Calves should not be sold from their farm of birth until they are at least 1 week of age.
c. Day-old poultry may be bought from whatever source, but transportation stresses will be minimized by purchasing from local breeders or hatcheries.
a. Identification of livestock should be by eartagging, marking with indelible ink or paint, or electronic ID (insertion of microchip into animal). When necessary, freeze branding may be used. Hot-iron branding is not permitted, unless required for state or Federal regulatory purposes. b. Castration of livestock should not be routinely practiced as male tainted meat is seldom a problem at the age that most livestock are slaughtered today. If castration must be done, it should be performed in the first days after birth; if performed after weaning, a local anesthetic is necessary.
c. Dehorning, too, should be performed in the first few weeks after birth using electrocautery and a local anesthetic. The use of polled livestock breeds is encouraged.
d. Other surgical manipulations, such as debeaking in poultry and tail docking and teeth clipping in piglets, should not be routinely performed and should be practiced only when other means of reducing aggressive behavior and boredom have failed (such as providing more space per animal or creating a more complex environment for them).
6. Husbandry Standards for Individual Species of Meat species
1. White or special fed veal production and husbandry practices cannot be considered humane. 2. The raising of calves in crates (individual stalls typically measuring 24"x60" in which they cannot walk or turn around) is not permitted.
3. Acceptable housing for veal calves is based on systems commonly used to raise dairy replacement heifers and includes: outside individual or group hutches with a fenced exercise area, a 3-sided open front barn/shed with an outside exercise yard or indoor group pens with individual feeding stalls/ stanchions and regular access to an outdoor area.
4. Whatever housing system is used, it must provide adequate space for exercise and social contact with other calves.
5. Calves should be maintained in small groups not to exceed 20; a group of 4-8 is optimal.
6. Tethering calves, except for brief periods during feeding, is not permitted.
7. An adequate amount of clean, dry bedding must be provided - using straw or other approved bedding material. In hot climates where bedding might cause problems for calves to dissipate surplus body heat caused by their high energy diet, another comfortable bedding surface may be used.
8. Calves need about 12 pints of colostrum within the first 18 hours (no more than 3 pints per feeding) to receive adequate immunity.
9. Fresh whole milk or milk replacers based on whole or skim dried milk can be fed to calves as long as the milk replacer contains no antibiotics or other artificial ingredients (except for iron).
10. Solid food containing sufficient digestible fiber should be provided to calves starting at two weeks of age and should constitute at least 10% of the diet.
11. Iron should be supplemented in the diet or by injection to the level of 100ppm.
1. Animals can be maintained either on pasture or in uncrowded feedlots. However, in either system, they must be provided with shade, shelter and a dry resting area.
2.Dependent on climatic conditions, acceptable housing provisions may include: open range or pastures with shade and shelter protection and a dry resting area; or a 3-sided, open-front barn with access to an outside corral.
3. Cattle must have access to sufficient roughage in their diet as well as high energy concentrates. ,
1. Gestation crates or pens and the use of tethers are not permitted for sows.
2. Farrowing crates are also not permitted for sows.
3. Battery cage systems for raising feeder pigs are not permitted.
4. Acceptable housing systems may include: outside pastures with insulated and ventilated hutches; a modified, open-front, south-facing barn/shed; or a building with interconnected pens forming a maze through which the animals can pass. In any system, separate areas for feeding, dunging and resting areas with clean, dry bedding must be provided.
5. Feeder pigs should not be maintained in groups larger than 20 pigs per pen.
6. Animals should be provided with freedom to perform natural behaviors such as nesting and rooting.
7. The buildings should be free of noticeable levels of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide fumes and dust-laden air. Generally, a ventilation system which provides for a minimum of 4 air changes per hour in winter and up to 40 air changes per hour in summer will be necessary to keep the air reasonably clean and fresh.
8. In hot climates, the animals should have access to ways of cooling themselves such as sprinklers or clean mud baths (free of potential pathogens) and shade.
1. Feeder lambs must not be raised in total confinement housing and must have access to the out of doors.
2. Acceptable housing systems are the same as for beef cattle.
3. Good pasture management is the key to control of internal parasites in sheep. Glen necessary, sheep may be wormed using approved medications such as ivermectin, but such active intervention must be coupled with preventive measures such as pasture rotation and worming animals upon arrival and before stocking a new pasture. Effective and necessary protection of livestock from natural predators is essential. Proven husbandry techniques such as fencing, herders, guard dogs and herding dogs, coralling, shed lambings, and intensive care during lambing season should be used as a priority, either singly, or in combination. The presence of donkeys and billygoats have also been shown to deter coyotes and feral dogs from sheep flocks.
.5. In semiarid areas (where much sheep raising occurs), there should be provision for shade for the animals.
6. The practice of molesting (cutting out skin folds in hindquarters to prevent blow-fly infestation) is not permitted without the use of anesthesia and proper veterinary care.
1. Acceptable housing systems are based on adaptations of deep litter, aviary, covered yard or free range systems and include a building/shelter with sufficient litter, feeders, waterers, perches and regular access to the out of doors if sold as "free range."
2. Stocking density should be no greater than 2.0 square feet per bird regardless of the housing system used.
3. Litter should be a minimum of 2" deep, clean, dry and of good quality. The addition of cracked corn, whole oats or calcium grit to the litter promotes turnover.
4. The houses should be free of noticeable levels of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide fumes and dust-laden air. Generally, a ventilation system which provides for a minimum of 4 air changes per hour in winter and up to 40 air changes per hour in summer will be necessary to keep the air reasonably clean and fresh.
5. Chicks should be provided necessary warmth and enough feeding space so that at least half of them can eat at any one time.
6. Feed storage should be rodent proof. Rodent control should be with traps, not poisons. Flies should be controlled by good house-keeping practices. Larvacides may not be fed to the birds.
7. The capture of the birds for transport to slaughter carries the potential for substantial stress and injuries to broilers. Quiet and careful handling of the birds at this time is a high priority.
.a. The first line of defense must be control of environmental problems through pasture rotation, disinfection, etc.
b. Cleaning agents and disinfectants should be chosen from amongst soaps, biodegradable detergents, iodine 5%, 1% potassium permanganate solutions, lye, alkali carbonates, caustic potash, lime, and bleach .
c. Areas to be disinfected should be empty of livestock, and manure should be physically removed as much as possible.
d. Vaccinations (including vaccination to stimulate maternal antibodies), probiotics and similar preventive techniques are permitted.
e. When the above methods are insufficient, recourse to certain active materials such as ivermectin and coccidiostats may be acceptable (provided that the withdrawal periods are two months or twice the label specifications, whichever is longer). Similarly, antibiotics may be used to treat clinical disease after proper diagnosis, using approved medications and dosages, until the condition is corrected. Withdrawal periods should be two months or twice the label specifications, whichever is longer for the antibiotics.
f. If an animal becomes badly injured or seriously sick, it should be humanely destroyed on the farm rather than being subjected to additional suffering and stress by being transported to slaughter.
a. The greatest degree of stress and number of injuries occur when animals are gathered together and moved to slaughter facilities, which are often hundreds of miles away. Handling procedures and equipment must be utilized that will ensure the humane treatment of animals, whatever the species, during loading, unloading, shipping, holding and slaughter.* The objective is to protect animals from unnecessary stress, injury or death due to transportation factors, climatic conditions or poor handling.
b. All animals must be humanely stunned before slaughter (use of the captive-bolt and cardiac electrical stunning being the most preferable technique).
The standards are the same as for livestock and poultry, with the exception of the following additions.
1. Dairy calves may be weaned from the dam as young as 12 to 24 hours old, provided they receive an adequate amount of colostrum (see 6A8. under Veal Calves) and receive whole milk or milk replacers based on whole or skim milk (see 2f under Feed and Water) until the age of 3 months. Calves may not be sold off the farm until they are at least five days of age.
2. For raising of dairy replacement heifers, use husbandry standards for veal calves.
3. Acceptable housing systems for the dairy herd can include pasturing and a stanchion barn, a 3-sided south-facing open barn with free access to stalls and an outdoor corral or a western style feedlot dairy operation as long as it includes shade, shelter and a dry, bedded resting area. Facilities must not be overcrowded.
4. Prolonged housing of cows in stanchion or tie stalls is not permitted. Cows must have regular access to exercise and the out-of-doors.
5. Hormones to increase milk production are prohibited.
6. Withdrawal periods for intramammary medications are twelve days, or twice the label specification, whichever is longer. Treated cows are to be milked at the end of the string.
1. The keeping of hens in battery cage operations is not permitted.
2. Acceptable housing systems can be based on adaptations of deep litter, aviary, covered yard or free range systems and must include a building/shelter with nest boxes, perches, deep litter, feeders, waterers and regular access to the out-of-doors if the eggs are to be sold as "free range."
3. Whatever housing system is used, the stocking density should be no greater than 2.0 square feet per bird. More space may be needed in flocks producing fertile eggs or when using more aggressive breeds.
4. Aggression among birds is best controlled by keeping the size of each flock small (100 birds or less), providing more space per bird, creating -more complex environment with "getaway space" (perches, nests, mazes, etc.) and using less aggressive genetic strains of birds.
5. The basic behavioral needs of hens to move, scratch, flap their wings, preen and nest must be respected and space provided so these activities can occur.
6. Litter must be at least 2" deep, clean, dry and of good quality. The addition of cracked corn, whole oats or calcium grit promotes turnover by the hens.
7.Perches may be moveable or fixed over a droppings pit.
8. The buildings should be free of noticeable levels of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide fumes and dust-laden air. Generally, a ventilation system which provides for a minimum of 4 air changes per hour in winter and up to 40 air changes per hour in summer will be necessary to keep the air reasonably clean and fresh.
9. Force moulting is not permitted.
10. Feed storage should be rodent proof. Rodent control should be with traps, not poison. Flies should be controlled by good housekeeping practices. Larvacides may not be fed to the hens.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Farm Animals Bioethics Division The Humane Society of the United States 2100 L Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20037 202/452-1100
Copyright © 19..
Info Request | Services | Become EAP Member | Site Map
Give us your comments about the EAP site
Ecological Agriculture Projects, McGill University (Macdonald
Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC, H9X 3V9 Canada
To report problems or otherwise comment on the structure of this site, send mail to the Webmaster