Misconception Number 24: Animals under organic management are denied proper veterinary treatment, such as vaccinations and antibiotics, which leads to unnecessary and prolonged suffering.
Summary of Counter-Arguments:
Details of Counter-Arguments:
Animals under organic management are never exposed to unnecessary suffering. According to IFOAM Basic Standards, organic management practices have to promote and maintain the health and well-being of animals through balanced organic nutrition; stress-free living conditions; and breed selection for resistance to diseases, parasites, and infections. In order to maintain animal health, disease prevention is the first recommended strategy. Preventive practices (such as regular exercise, free access to pasture and/or open-air runs, and adequate grazing rotations) stimulate the natural immunity of the animal and increase tolerance to diseases.
Routine or preventive use of chemically synthesized medicines and antibiotics is not allowed in organic farming because routine drug treatments weaken the animalís immune system, can lead to antibiotic resistance, and increase reliance on drugs. When disease occurs, organic farmers are encouraged to use natural and complementary therapies for their animals, including homeopathy, Ayurvedic medicine, and acupuncture. However, if these are not appropriate, then conventional medicines, including antibiotics, can and should be used. The welfare of the animal is paramount. Animal suffering should be avoided at all times. Therefore, if an animal becomes sick or injured despite preventive and alternative measures, that animal shall be treated promptly and adequately, if necessary in isolation and in suitable housing. Veterinary treatment, under the supervision of a veterinarian, is encouraged when it is the only way to avoid unnecessary suffering of the livestock, even if the use of such medication will cause the animal to loose its organic status .
One reason why vaccinations are restricted under organic standards is that many vaccines are genetically engineered. When the vaccine is not genetically engineered, vaccination is allowed under specific limitations: when an endemic disease is known or expected to be a problem in the region of the farm and when the disease cannot be controlled by other management techniques or when a vaccination is legally required.
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