For this reason, organic farmers provide their livestock with organically grown feed that not only helps their animals grow and produce, but which also helps to improve the animal’s health and welfare.
Because the quality and composition of organic livestock feed is so important to the production of organic meat and other animal products, these factors are strictly regulated.
For example, the current EU Regulation on organic farming requires organic farmers to feed a minimum of 85% organic animal feed to their livestock depending on the species. And from 1 January 2008, farmers will have to provide 100% organic feed to their cattle in order to market their products as organic or to use the EU logo.
Meanwhile, the new EU Regulation, built on the current rules, calls for the production of organic livestock feed:
- From organic materials, except where feed material is unavailable in organic form
- Using minimal feed additives and processing aids and only in a case of essential need or for a particular nutritional purpose
- With care, preferably through biological, mechanical and physical methods.
Organic principles and regulations also dictate that organic animals should have permanent access to open pasture and roughage for feeding, and that feed should meet their nutritional requirements at each stage of their development.
In line with the principle of using on-site resources, organic livestock feed should also be preferably obtained from the farm on which the animals are kept.
The following ingredients are prohibited in organic feed:
- Growth promoters
- Synthetic amino acids
- Genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Other ingredients or substances, such as those listed below, can only be used under certain circumstances:
- Non-organic feed materials from plant origin
- Feed materials from animal and mineral origin
- Feed additives
- Animal nutrition aids, such as enzymes and micro-organisms
- Processing aids
Organic farmers believe that during their early development, animals such as calves or lambs should only be fed natural milk – ideally from their mothers.