Organic Chickens Socialize on Verandas While Cows Munch on Pasture
Organic animal production is a land-related activity. The Canadian Organic Standards state that herbivores must have access to pasture during the grazing season while all animals, including poultry, must have access to the outdoors whenever weather conditions permit.
Chickens are naturally active, curious and social animals. A recent addition to the Canadian Organic Standards is the requirement for enriched verandahs for barn-raised laying hens. These verandahs are to be used when the weather is too poor for the hens to go outside. Unheated and naturally lit, the verandahs have a sand, dirt or bedding covered floor to encourage foraging, scratching and dust-bathing. They also include “enrichments” like perches, trays of greens or hay bales to encourage natural behaviors. Free movement and chicken approved amusements increase the well-being of the hens. To learn how certified organic compares to free run and free range, visit Understanding Labels.
Cattle are social animals too and a favorite pastime is grazing with the herd. While grazing, they maintain social relationships, exercise, rest and ruminate, all natural behaviors that keep the animals healthy. Organic pastures also support biodiversity creating habitats for many different species of insects, birds and plants, and with regular droppings of cattle manure, the soil organisms thrive too. On top of that, keeping cattle on pasture helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
If you are concerned about the health and well-being of farm animals, you can feel good about choosing Organic: Food with Principles. Guaranteed.
Did You Know?
Most chicken eggs start out white.
Chicken genetics determine eggshell colour. Usually brown hens lay brown eggs while white hens lay white eggs. But things get more complicated when trying to explain the blue eggs laid by Araucana chickens or the green eggs laid by Olive Egger chickens.
As it happens, most eggs start out white inside the chicken but different breeds release different coloured pigments as the egg travels through the hen’s oviduct. Brown hens “paint” their eggs with brown pigment while white hens skip the painting step altogether.
The majority of organic eggs found in supermarkets are brown either because farmers prefer raising brown hens and/or because consumers seem to equate brown eggs with a more natural product (which is not the case).
Did You Know?
Most Canadian cattle spend the last five to seven months of their lives in feedlots.
Young beef animals are typically raised on pasture for the first nine to eleven months then moved to feedlots for five to seven months before slaughter. Feedlots consist of dirt floor group pens where the cattle are transitioned from a forage-based diet to an 80-90% grain diet to quickly reach market weight. Animals may be treated with growth hormones and antibiotics.
In contrast, organic meat cattle are on pasture eating fresh plants during the grazing season and at other times, a minimum 60% of their daily rations must consist of fresh, dry or ensiled forage. The remaining 40% of their rations may be made up of organic grain although, many organic growers feed 100% forage right to slaughter. Organic meat animals are never treated with growth hormones or antibiotics.
See how Certified Organic compares to Grass Fed and other Canadian meat labels in Understanding Labels.