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Interest in organic agriculture has been increasing worldwide and many veterinarians are confronted with different regulations and ideals of this farming style.
The objective of this study was to identify potential challenges that bovine veterinarians may face when working on certified organic farms.
Materials and Methods
An anonymous online survey was conducted and all members of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners’ list serve were invited to participate. Included were veterinarians who practiced in the United States.
A total of 213 veterinarians participated in the study. Most participants served at least 1 organic client and worked in dairy practice. The veterinarians were neither opposed nor in favor of organic production. Many veterinarians had difficulties to treat diseased animals with alternative therapies within the regulatory framework. They had a need for more information on evidence-based alternative therapies. Many veterinarians were concerned about animal welfare on organic farms due to the lack of proven effective therapy options. Nearly 90% of respondents did not agree that organic livestock was healthier than conventionally raised livestock and 75% thought that animal health was a matter of proper management rather than organic or conventional farming practices.
Discussion and Conclusion
Veterinarians were generally not opposed to organic farming. However, most participants required better information about organic regulations and evidence-based alternative therapies.
Europe has a strong and continuously growing organic market. Similarly to the situation in the US, European veterinary education does not include topics on organic farming or alternative therapies. Therefore, some findings of this study might be transferred to the situation in Europe. Education efforts regarding organic regulations and research on evidence-based alternative medicine should be increased to serve veterinarians’ needs when working with organically farming clients.