Status Quo of animal health in organic animal husbandry - conclusions and options for action in agricultural politics

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Sundrum, Albert; Benninger, Tina and Richter, Uwe (2004) Statusbericht zum Stand der Tiergesundheit in der Ökologischen Tierhaltung - Schlussfolgerungen und Handlungsoptionen für die Agrarpolitik. [Status Quo of animal health in organic animal husbandry - conclusions and options for action in agricultural politics]. Department of Organic Agricultural Sciences, University of Kassel, Department of Animal Nutrition and Animal Health.


Based on a literature review a meta-analysis on the current knowledge of the animal health situation in organic livestock farming was carried out. The following diseases were taken into focus: mastitis, reproductive, metabolic and claw disorders of dairy cows, specific diseases of pigs and poultry and problems due to parasites. The results of the literature analysis as well as the conclusions were discussed in an expert panel.

The results showed that the current health situation in organic livestock production is comparable to the situation on conventional farms. Levels of diseases are high, regardless of the production method. Differences between farming enterprises can be considered higher than differences between the organic and the conventional farming system. The biggest reason for the variation in relation to disease occurrence are deficits in the farm management.
Limited capacities of time and finances as well as structural problems impede efforts to improve the animal health situation at the farm level. Various initiatives working on improving the situation have not shown satisfactory results so far.
Therefore the agricultural policy is in demand to lead the right direction, to create a satisfying system of controls and to support and stimulate initiatives working for a good animal health status. Organic farming has the potential to set an example for others in making a genuine effort to establish a high animal health status. Nevertheless, taking into account all the different relevant aspects it can be concluded that the current situation can only be improved if a complete change of direction is initiated. Reaching results instead of applying methods or converting regulations should be the main focus of this new approach. Under the current circumstances there are only very few options for organic farming to hold its ground against the pressure of minimising production costs and working time as well as against the competition for productivity. To reach this goal, the support of the agricultural policy is required.


  • Literature research
  • Meta-analysis
  • Animal health in organic livestock farming
  • variance
  • management
  • structural problems
  • result-oriented approach
  • agricultural policy


11/ 2003-4/ 2004

Third-party funds

Federal Organic Farming Program of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food; (BLE Project No. 03 OE 672)

Final report