ORGANIC systems of agricultural production seek to use natural processes to achieve outputs, rather than impose ‘artificial’ external inputs. In practical terms, this equates to production systems that minimise the use of non-renewable agrichemicals and fertilisers. Veterinary medicines are included in the definition of non-renewable inputs and this raises a number of challenges for both organic livestock farmers and their veterinary advisers, as good animal health and welfare are specific aims of organic philosophy. Livestock plays an integral part in most organic enterprises and also provides the organic fertiliser needed for the transfer of plant nutrients around the farm as part of rotational systems. This article describes the philosophy behind organic production, highlights some common clinical problems that may be encountered and how they may be managed, and discusses the key contribution that veterinary surgeons can make to such systems.
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