For Yarrah, animal welfare is one of the most important reasons why we produce organic dog and cat food. The food shouldn’t just be good for dogs and cats. We also require that the animals that end up in the food have had a better life. What exactly does ‘a better life’ mean when it comes to an organic animal?
Organic chickens and turkeys eat a minimum of 95% organic food. The cereals they’re fed are pure and haven’t been sprayed with harmful pesticides. They’re free from chemical antioxidants, artificial aromas, colourings and flavourings and haven’t been genetically modified. In view of the fact that organic chickens and turkeys are given plenty of time to roam around outdoors, they scratch around for much of their food themselves, meaning they don’t have to be given as much feed as their caged peers.
A sizeable proportion of the beef that Yarrah uses comes from Uruguay. This meat is from cattle that are fed pure grass. They aren’t given any cereals, and they’re fed in a completely natural way. The cattle also drink water from natural sources. The benefits of this are that no food (cereals) and water fit for human consumption go to waste. What’s more, the meat contains more healthy omega-3 fatty acids than meat derived from grain-fed cattle.
Imitating natural behaviour as closely as possible is important in organic livestock farming. That’s why it’s imperative that all animals are given maximum opportunity to be outside, though they still need adequate hideaways and comfortable places to sleep. The minimum amount of space that each animal must have is also stipulated by law. An organic chicken will be put together with 9 of its peers in 1 m2, and outdoors they’ll collectively have 36 m2 at their disposal. In contrast, a caged chicken will spend the entire day indoors with 20 of its peers in the same number of square metres.
When organic cattle are stabled, there’s enough dry space to lie down, scattered with natural material such as straw. If the animals will eat the straw, then this too has to be organic. The animals are free and aren’t allowed to be tethered. The cattle from Uruguay, whose meat we use, have it even better: they’re outside 24 hours a day, have at least 100 m2 to roam around in and a variety of trees offer natural hideaways.
Natural and homeopathic medicines are used as much as possible in organic livestock farming. Administering preventive antibiotics, hormones or regular medicines isn’t allowed. If an animal does have to be treated with antibiotics, then this can be done a maximum of three times and the waiting time until slaughter is double what it is for animals in regular livestock farming. If an animal needs to be treated more often than this, then it will no longer be allowed to be sold as organic.
In view of the fact that docking pigs’ tails and beak-trimming do nothing for animals’ health in organic livestock farming, these practices are forbidden by law. Dehorning cattle is permitted, but only under anaesthetic and with the strict supervision of a vet.
Although it’s good to trust people, checks remain necessary! It’s not just the official nationwide certification bodies that carry out checks; Yarrah’s quality manager also inspects our own suppliers every year. Fortunately the sector is extremely reliable, and the organic farmers are highly passionate about their animals and their welfare. Read our quality manager’s visit report here of one of our organic poultry farms.