Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) is the world’s leading and arguably the most influential animal welfare campaigning organisation. No one fights harder than CIWF for improved animal welfare, which is why their support of biodynamic farming’s husbandry is so significant.
1. You’ve visited biodynamic farms, what impresses you most about our approach to animal welfare?
It’s individual approach to looking after its animals, the respect shown to them, and the dedication and tlc it gives to ensure they can express their natural behaviours, which helps keep them healthy and happy.
2. Biodynamic cows are never dehorned. What’s your feeling about this?
It’s great there’s a system of husbandry that doesn’t require dehorning, which can be a painful procedure. When you have to mutilate animals to fit the system that tells you there’s something wrong with the system.
3. You’ve seen just about every farming system all over the world. How does biodynamic farming rate?
Very highly, a system that, for me, offers strong potential for meeting genuinely high standards of animal welfare. What I really admire is that farmers only stock the number of animals the farm can support naturally. This is a very important facet of biodynamic farming because it means that the health of their soil, land and animals is better protected.
4. Is biodynamic farming practical, or a utopian dream?
I have come to the conclusion that if we want a sustainable food system for all we need to allow animals back onto the farm and let them range. We need to encourage farming systems that promote a natural healthy balance, thereby protecting soils and the land that feeds us rather than using lots of chemicals that has increasingly become the norm today. Can we feed the world without factory farming? Yes.
We don’t have a shortage of food, it’s what we do with it that counts – and currently we feed too much human-edible grain to industrially reared animals. If we raised animals more naturally, and cut out food waste, we would have enough food to feed 16 billion people. Biodynamic farming helps bring balance back into the food system and points one way forward. That’s not a utopian dream but a sustainable reality.
5. What’s your view on the alarming over use of antibiotics in intensive farming?
Half the world’s antibiotics are fed to farm animals, largely to routinely medicate against the effects of factory farming. This is wrong and senseless. We need healthy sustainable farming systems that do not rely on routine use of antibiotics which can give rise to superbugs, a serious threat to human health. If animals were kept in more natural conditions, the need for antibiotics could be dramatically reduced. Biodynamic farming does this, and is one of the reasons why CIWF is supportive of this approach.
6. What are you most proud of achieving?
We’ve made huge strides over the last 20 years, but we’re probably proudest of achieving bans on the three cruellest factory farming systems, namely veal crates for calves, gestation crates for pregnant pigs, and barren battery cages for laying hens. We’re also enormously proud of bringing about EU wide recognition that farm animals are sentient beings, capable of feeling pain and suffering – and also joy if we allow them to, something that seems to be at the heart of biodynamic approach, too.
But we don’t sit on our laurels. We work with over 700 food companies worldwide to bring about real change to improve all aspects of animal welfare in our food system. Our work with companies involves persuading them to make policy commitments such as only selling or using cage-free eggs or dairy products from cows allowed to graze.
7.We’ve just voted to leave the EU. What would you most like our politicians to do about animal welfare?
I most want the UK government to restore the UK to its leadership role; to encourage our country to once again become a world leader in animal welfare. We are serious about the welfare of our pets, and its time to get serious about the welfare of our farm animals. We especially want to see a ban on the live export of animals for slaughter. Once we’ve left the EU, there will be no more excuses, and we’ll be campaigning hard to make this happen.
8. Meanwhile, how can consumers help ensure better animal welfare standards are the norm?
Consumers are key, and their support crucial. A positive decision to buy pasture fed, free-range, organic, and biodynamic meat, milk and eggs is the best way to reward farmers and give them confidence that they are doing the right thing, and puts pressure on governments to take animal welfare seriously.
9.And biodynamic meat?
For me, the biodynamic approach to animal welfare is the food industry’s best kept secret and has the potential to offer some of the best animal welfare standards. I hope I can help let this secret out of the bag and bring biodynamic farming to a much wider audience.
To find out more about Compassion in World Farming’s work see
Read Philip Lymbery’s blog about the famous vegan biodynamic winemaker here: http://spiraledge.wpengine.com/vegan-biodynamic-famous-winemaker-awesome/
Read Philip Lymbery’s blog about Tablehurst Farm’s chickens here: