NOTES ON ORGANIC
DEFINITION:Organic animal husbandry is defined as a system of livestock production
that promotes the use of organic and biodegradable inputs from the ecosystem in
terms of animal nutrition, animal’s health, animal housing and breeding.It deliberately avoids use of synthetic
inputs such as drugs, feed additives and genetically engineered breeding
OBJECTIVES OF ORGANIC
raise animals in a system that takes into consideration
the wider issues of environmental pollution, human health on consumption
of animal products allowing them to meet their basic behavioral needs and
in keeping as many types of livestock on the holding as each furnishes
different nutrients at the household level.For example special attention should be
given to rabbits and poultry as income generated from this enterprise goes
directly to the disadvantaged segments of the population e.g. women and
children.Their nitrogen rich
manure is used to increase vegetable production in the kitchen gardens
thus improving the family diet.Other like donkeys are useful in transport thus reducing the
consumption of non-renewable sources of energy e.g. petroleum based fossil
the natural behavior of animals in their production systems to reduce
stress e.g. chicken like perching at night and perching rails should be
provided for this purpose.They
should also be raised in deep litter system that allows them to scratch
for ants and worms and dust bathe.Dark secluded nest should be provided as the like laying in dark
secluded places.Goats being
browsers in nature like having their forage suspended high enough so that
they can attain an upright posture e.t.c.
- Use of
low external input which lessen the cost of production and allow for a
sustainable system of production since most materials can be recycled in
the farm and also locally available
of nutrients gap in soil, crops and animals i.e. animals feed on crops and
cultivated crops by products.The
animal’s waste in form of farmyard manure is composted and taken back to
the soil to replenish the lost soil nutrients through cultivation.This ensures the completion of nutrient
cycle in the ecosystem.
ROLES PLAYED BY ANIMALS
- They provide food to human in forms of
meat, milk and honey.
utilize lands that are not suitable for cultivation to produce animas
product foods of high value e.g. arid and semiarid areas, rocky and hilly
topographies.Ruminants are able to
convert waste crop by-products in high value human food.
can be used to generate income when their surplus products are sold for
cash.They also play the role of
insurance in families where they are sold in case of emergencies like
sickness and other eventualities that require immediate funds that may not
have been planned for.
play a social cultural role in terms of wealth expression, prestige,
payment of dowry and other social obligations like worship.
provide energy through draft power and domestic fuel e.g. dry cow dung and
play an essential role in closing the carbon and nitrogen cycle in the
ecosystems by provided in manure used for fertilizing the soil.The ash obtained by burning dung is
incorporated in compost manure to provide nutrient for crops.
NUTRITION AND FEEDING.
Farm animals require good diet for efficient production of
the intended products, growth and maintenance.
Organic Farming systems aims at growing and producing most
of the animal feeds in the farm to enable sustainable production and minimize
the risk of contamination of these feeds by chemicalswhich may be in use at other sources where
such where such feeds may be procured.Farm production of animal’s feeds also promotes the achieving of the
basic objective of organic farming which is use of low external inputs.
The daily ration for all farm animals should contain an
average of 70% carbohydrates, 25% proteins and 5% vitamins, minerals and oils.
BASIC NUTRIENTS IN ANIMALS FEEDS.
- CABOHYDRATES:Provide the animals with energy for
maintenance of body health such as during work, gestation, production of
meat, milk and eggs.Ruminants are
able to obtain their basic carbohydrate requirements from forages and
pastures by use of rumen microbes, which enable them to break down fibrous
cellulose into energy giving units.This is however not possible in non-ruminant animals like pigs and
poultry.Donkeys however do well on
a ruminant diet.
No-ruminants obtain their carbohydrates
mainly from cereal grains.Such as maize, wheat and their industrial
by-products like maize germ and wheatbran, tubers e.g. cassava and sweet
potatoes. Feeding of grains and tubers inruminants should be restricted to an average of 2kg
for big animals like cows and 200gms to small ruminants like sheep and goats to
avoid excessive production of acids during their digestion due to fermentation
- PROTEINS:Are needed in the animal’s body for growth
and repair of tissues.
The lack of proteins in the diet rations
lead to poor growth rate, reducedproduction of milk, eggs e.t.c, loss of
weight and late maturity for growinganimals.Leguminous fodder is a good source of protein for most livestock.
Examples include: desmodium, leucenia,
calliandra and sesbania species of legumes.Free-range chickens are
able to obtain their proteins by picking ticks,insects, and worm earthworm from the environment.Earthworms to feed chicken can be multiplied by mixing a small amount of the soil containing
earthworms with fresh cow dung and dry leaves in a half a drum which is kept moist by
covering with an old sisal sack.The worms multiply quickly and after about
two to three weeks,they can be harvested and fed to the chickens. Pigs can be fed with human left
over (swill) which contains proteins from human diet.Swill may be boiled with offal’s from
slaughter houses to fortify its protein content and kill diseases causing
micro-organisms that may be present.
- VITAMINS:Are only needed in small amount in
animals mainly for prevention of diseases.They are plentiful in young green pasture or fodder, kales, and
young amaranth which has not seeded residues of fruit peels from the
kitchen may also act as a good source of vitamins.
minerals in the animal body such as calcium and phosphorus, which are
necessary for egg shell formation, bone formation, muscle contractions, synthesis
of hormones and enzymes e.t.c.Their deficiency from the body results in rickets, reduce growth,
soft brittle bones that fracture easily, difficult birth, low egg and milk
production, retained afterbirth e.t.c.Animals also develop the ‘Pica’ habit, which leads to eating
strange things like cloths, rags, bones, soap, metal sheets e.t.c.Minerals are available from some plant
like amaranths (pigweed), stinging nettle (urtica dioica), solanum nigrum
(Black night shade), ox gonium sinnathuum (conge – KIK), curcubitae spp
(pumpkin leaves).Mixing equal
parts of dry leaves from these plants and grinding them to a smooth
powered will provide for most minerals in livestock when placed in a
mineral box and fed ad-labium.
and oils- provide a layer of insulation below the skin for protection
against cold.They also facilitate the
absorption of vitamins in the body.Sunflower seeds provide a good source of fat for cattle, pigs,
poultry and rabbits.Seeds of
croton tree are also good source of fat.
- WATER:While water may not be treated as a true
nutrient, it is essential for providing a medium through which other
nutrients are absorbed and assimilated in the body.It is also responsible for giving shape
and turgidity to most tissue of the body.Clean water which is free from contamination with chemicals and
disease causing agents should be provided to the animals ad-labium.Salty water with a lot of natural
minerals is not suitable to livestock as it limits the intake.
1.Ensure easy access to feed and water to encourage intake.
2.Offer a wide variety of foods daily to meet nutrients need.
3.Provides forage and water at all times to increase production.
4.Limit the intake of concentrates
for ruminants to prevent metabolic diseases.e.g acidosis.
5.Supplement the animals diet with feed sources that are rich in mineral
and vitamins to protect the animals from diseases.
6.In the range lands, practice proper stocking rate to avoid destroying
the environment through overgrazing.
7.Allow time for regeneration of pasture by having short grazing periods
followed by period of rest.
8.Don’t use fire for bush clearing as it leads to loss of a wide variety
of protein rich and medicinal plant that help balance the animals diet.Trees and shrubs should be preserved so as to
provide shade, other trees like Acacia species drop protein rich pods that
benefit ruminants directly.
Appropriate housing for livestock aims at achieving the
following basic requirements.
large enough for sufficient free movement.
fresh air and natural daylight through adequate ventilations.
against the vagaries of the weather e.g. excessive sunlight, heat, rain
lying and resting area according to the species and the size of the animals.
bedding material for large animals should be provided.
water and feed should be provided for when designing livestock houses by
incorporating feed rough and water troughs.
housing should be designed in a way to allow for easy and efficient
collection of manures for composting.
gentle slope is essential in livestock houses to facilitate drainage.
housing should be able to keep away predators while not compromising the
ventilation aspects especially for poultry.
of cheap locally available materials is especially emphasized in organic
Organic animal husbandry emphasizes on a compromise between
total confinement of animals as is the case in zero grazing and free range as
the best solution especially in the low potential areas where land sizes are
bigger and therefore there is more grazing space.Animals for example can spend the day grazing
freely and then be on zero grazing at night for security.
ANIMAL HEALTH CARE IN ORGANIC ANIMAL HUSBANDRY:
Use of traditional therapies that utilize remedies derived
from medicinal plants is emphasized in organic animal husbandry to avoid use of
antibiotics that are chemically based.A
deeper study of animal health care is a topic on itself in this workshop and more
details will be covered there.
Organic animals husbandry stresses on avoiding of
genetically engineered materials for breeding purposes.Artificial insemination is allowed as a
CONVERSION OF A LIVESTOCK FARM TO AN ORGANIC LIVESTOCK
FARM LIVESTOCK FARM.
The following impact points must be considered when
converting to an organic system of production for live:
shall not be fed with feeds, which incorporated feed additives like growth
hormones, bacteriostats e.t.c.
waste e.g. poultry manure shall not be used to feed livestock.
manures require to be handled properly, removed from animals housed
regularly and be composted before taking them to the fields to kill
harmful organisms that may be present e.t.c nematodes.
health of animals shall be paramount selection for breeding animals should
be based on the resistance to diseases and pests.The farmer should administers only the
herbal and natural treatment conventional drugs may only be used as a last
resort to save the life of the animals will not be certified as from an
organic source for the next three (3) months.
farm should strive to produce most of the feeds from the farm to avoid
procurement of contaminated feeds from other sources.
Organic animal husbandry promotes use of clean and healthy
products from our animals for our own health, protects the environment, brings
down the cost of production and is the system to watch for now and the future
in the livestock production.LET’S GO
Wainaina – DIRECTOR,
See also Profarms Ethnoveterinary publication
See also the Profarms Organic Animal Husbandry Publication
Questions or comments? Contact the Platform Coordinator go back to the Animal Husbandry page or to the Training Materials page