ORGANIC EGGS AND MEAT PRODUCTION IN INDIA
Smriti Sharma1, Priyanka2, Ravinder3 and Gitesh Saini4
1 Department of Animal Genetics and Breeding, Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (LUVAS), Hisar-125004, Haryana, India
2 Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (LUVAS), Hisar-125004, Haryana, India
3Department of Animal Nutrition, Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (LUVAS), Hisar-125004, Haryana, India
4Department of Veterinary Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (LUVAS), Hisar-125004, Haryana, India
Introduction: Eggs are the most nutritious, yet relatively cheaper, unadulterated natural food, with highest biological value and digestibility coefficient. It considered as golden standard, to measure the quality and nutritional value of any other foods. Due to constant increase in the consumers’ knowledge and financial standards, they demand for better and value-added products; irrespective of its costs. Designer eggs/ meat and organic eggs/ meat are such examples of value-added products of poultry origin.
FAO defines Organic egg farming as “a unique production management system which promotes and enhances agroecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity, and this is accomplished by using on farm agronomic, biological and mechanical methods in exclusion of all synthetic off farm inputs.” That means ORGANIC POULTRY is rearing of birds without cages, outdoor access, organic feed with natural treatments.
Basic requirements for organic poultry and dairy include ——
- Appropriate housing that permits natural behaviour, including outdoor access.
- Certified organic feed, including pasture.
- No antibiotics, drugs or synthetic parasiticides.
- Organic processing of meat and eggs.
- Recordkeeping system to allow tracking of poultry and products (audit trail).
- Organic system plan including description of practices to prevent contamination, monitoring practices and list of inputs.
- Production that does not contribute to contamination of soil or water.
- No genetically modified organisms, ionizing radiation or sewage sludge.
- Pasture management.
- Grazing management.
- Stress management.
- Dry cow management, or a dry cow program.
- Seasonal breeding.
- Access to the environment.
- Access to the pasture.
- Natural maintenance of shelter.
- Avoidance of synthetic substances.
- Rearing of birds without cages.
- Outdoor access.
- Organic feed.
- Natural treatments.
Organic egg production: Our Vedas say “Live in partnership with, rather than exploit nature”. Organic egg production is a holistic approach including a). Housing & management, b). Welfare and health cover, c). Feeding procedures and d). Certification by the licensing authorities. Eggs from certified organic farms are considered as organic despite from any free-range system, cage-free system, open yard or country eggs.
Breeding: Adaptability to the local conditions determines the choice of breed. Breeding goals should not be contradicted to the animal behaviour instead should be directed towards good health. Use of genetically engineered species or breeds is not allowed for organic farming. Hormonal treatment for better egg production is not allowed instead natural reproductive techniques should be used. The sex ratio should be one male for about 4-6 hens in a flock.
a). Housing & Management: Chemical fertilizers and pesticides free land for at least three consecutive years should be used for organic farming. Deep litter houses with open outdoors having pasture is prerequisite for organic poultry production. Flock size may vary from 4000-6000 birds/shed or 16,000-30,000 hens/ farms.
- Stocking density should be 7 hens per m² covered shed area.
- Provision of one nesthole for each 8 hens.
- Provision of a perchlength of 10cm per hen at 60 cm height.
- Provide 45 cm X 60 cm pop-holesfor each 250 hens, for free access between pen and free-range during daytime.
- opportunity to exhibit all its normal behaviour patterns and experience minimal stress.
b). Welfare and health cover: Maintenance of basic animal welfare is required for organic certification. Only natural molting can occur within the flock and forced molting is prohibited. Vaccinations should be carried out upto 18 weeks, as in the case of conventional layers. Legally required vaccinations are allowed whereas genetically engineered vaccines are prohibited. Herbal dewormers like bitter gourd, Kamala, neem oil, panchakavia are allowed, if there is more worm burden. For organic egg production, the feed has to be free from antibiotics (AGP), drugs, feed additives and many more synthetic performance enhancers.
c). Feeding procedures: Allowance of certified organic feed ingredients like maize, soya etc. from organic farms. In case of scarcity of organic raw materials, conventional feed ingredients, free from pesticide residues, can be used upto 30 %. Animal by-products like fish, MBM etc. are prohibited in the feed. Vitamins, organic minerals, amino acids, herbal preparations are permitted in the organic feed. Natural feeding behaviour and digestive needs should be followed while feeding. Home grown protein sources like peas, beans and rapeseed can be utilized. Peas can be included at the rate of 250-300g/kg for the table chicken and 150-200g/kg for laying hens.
Limestone and rock phosphate in general and limestone grit and rock phosphate particularly for layers can be used as mineral source. Trace minerals incorporated in the diets should be organic or ayurvedic in nature. The requirement of essential amino acids can be fulfilled through feeding organic soybean, skim milk powder, potato protein, maize gluten etc. Water should be regularly tested for ground water contamination.
d). Certification by the licensing authorities: In India, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) regulates the certification of organic products, as per National Standards for Organic Production (NPOP). At present there is no authorized “Organic eggs’ certifying agency in India. Eggs can be produced as per international standards and market them.
Record Keeping: Record keeping of overall management practices is the most important factor. There must be systematic documentation of activities, observations and inferences from time to time for future reference. Records including breeding records, registers indicating source of animals’ purchase, source of organic feed ingredients, feed supplements and feed additives purchased, organic feed formulation record, organic poultry pasture record, inventory of health care products, sanitation products, monthly flock records of organic egg layers, organic meat poultry, organic poultry slaughter/sales summary and monthly organic egg packing /sales record should be kept updated and well managed.
Conclusion: organic production of food items is gaining a fast pace in todays scenario where every product is adulterated or having any harmful substances in form of additives, preservatives, and regulators. Organic production should be done by keeping in mind the above-mentioned prospects. Apart from this, there is a need for a statutory authority for the formulation of rules, regulation and laying standards for the standardized organic egg production.