Keeping animals species-appropriate is a central concern of organic farming. In addition to sufficient space and outdoor access, this also includes appropriate breeding, correct feeding and preventive measures to keep the animals healthy. Organic animal husbandry is generally less geared to achieving top performance than conventional animal husbandry, which reduces the burden on the animals and the environment.
Using interdisciplinary and participatory approaches, FiBL develops concepts to improve livestock husbandry on organic farms. The focus is on optimising husbandry conditions and management to increase animal welfare. In organic farming, breeds and genotypes which are adapted to the special conditions of organic production are used and kept under conditions that assure the highest possible animal welfare. Feeding and health care adapted to the respective genetics and performance are just as important as the equipment in the stables and design of the outdoor runs.
Since 2014, FiBL has been coordinating and supervising the Animal Welfare Competence Centre together with the Landesbetrieb Landwirtschaft Hessen (LLH). In the pilot and demonstrational project Animal Welfare (MuD), new findings that promote animal welfare are implemented through concrete measures. These include, for example, the renunciation of non-curative interventions (e.g. docking/clipping of body parts), the reduced use of antibiotics, the optimisation of animal-friendly husbandry conditions and hygiene management. Every year, FiBL organises up to 20 events on topics related to animal welfare and animal health.
In applied projects, FiBL also works together with farms on current issues of organic animal husbandry. For instance, project staff optimize procedures in surgical piglet castration under anaesthesia and postoperative pain treatment in piglet producing organic farms. The focus is on the animal welfare aspect when castrating male suckling piglets: "Practical piglet castration under anaesthesia and postoperative pain elimination in organic piglet production".
Furthermore, optimisation approaches for the feeding of organic animals are being conceptualized. This includes the development of a process for the production of an organic poultry feed rich in Riboflavin. Through feeding trials, the use of the feed will be tested for fattening broilers, laying hens and fattening turkeys: "Demand-oriented organic feeding of poultry - Focus: New sources of Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)".