Animal welfare is at the heart of organic agriculture.
In fact, Soil Association’s welfare standards are the highest of any farming system in the UK! Organic cows are truly free-range; they must have plenty of space, access to pasture when weather conditions permit, and spend as much time outdoors as possible – conditions which help to reduce stress and disease.
Organic farming standards ban the routine use of antibiotics and wormers. Reducing stress and disease in dairy cows by giving them plenty of space and allowing them to behave naturally in a suitable environment means there is no need for preventative antibiotic use.
This helps minimise the risk of antimicrobial resistance and protect the effectiveness of these treatments for animal and human use.
Organic animals must be fed a natural and organic diet. For cows, this means a grass-rich diet.
Most non-organic cows are fed with imported, genetically modified animal feed, which is prohibited under organic standards. Whilst non-organic cows are generally given more concentrated feed (on average a third more) to increase milk production, in organic systems, cows must be fed a minimum of 60% forage (grass-based diet).
This means that organic dairy has lower (on average 20%) yield, but it is more sustainable and helps to protect the animals’ health and welfare.
Fewer additives and preservatives:
The use of additives and processing aids is heavily restricted in organic products, and certified organic processed foods containing dairy must be made using methods that guarantee the organic integrity of the product.
Organic standards prohibit the use of toxic ingredients.
GM ingredients, hydrogenated fats and controversial artificial colourings and preservatives are also banned under organic standards.