Organic Animal Health

pig-and-cow-nose-to-noseAt a time when pastured poultry raisers are being urged by officials to keep their flocks indoors — to supposedly prevent their being contaminated by wild birds — it is encouraging to see the National Organic Standards Board trying to toughen the regulations regarding organic poultry by requiring them to have meaningful access to the out-of-doors. The NOSB recognizes that natural decontamination from sunlight, fresh air and bio-diverse soil are the best ways to promote animal vitality.

Organic standards for livestock health are primarily based on keeping the animals healthy in the first place, which is as it should be. No medications or interventions can be as effective as prevention, humane care and a proper diet. The articles in this issue are based on that organic principle. We analyze both disease and good health from the perspective of organic regulations and management.

Understanding basic epidemiology, and then looking at our current livestock system that relies on confinement and a miserly delivery of the crucial vital services — space, fresh air, clean water, appropriate feed, rapid breakdown of waste products – one wonders how American industrial agriculture could have gotten it so wrong. Is it any wonder that we experience massive culls of millions of birds infected by disease in such facilities? This issue looks at that question.

We also discuss various infectious diseases and how they are introduced, spread, and what kind of damage they can do. But beyond examining disease, we consult experts on the best ways to raise livestock: the benefit of pasture, managing for the seasons, the approaches of holistic, complementary, alternative, homeopathic and herbal medicine, controlling internal and external parasites, when to vaccinate, avoiding and dealing with rabies, pneumonia, mastitis and pasture blight.

Only a minority of our readers raise livestock. But this issue contains information that we believe all thinking citizens should read and ponder. Organic animals in this country are generally raised without the use of antibiotics, pharmaceuticals, artificial hormones, or GMO feed. In that regard they are, sadly, in far better health than the general human population of this country. Can we learn, from understanding how livestock are treated, about improv-ing the health of ourselves and our families? We believe the same forces govern good health in all animals, human or livestock. We invite you to read this issue and see if you don’t agree.