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Animal Welfare Task Force of the Expert Committee on Organic Agriculture (ECOA)


Mandate of the Animal Welfare Task Force
"To research and identify ways to improve animal care on organic farms"



Farm Animal Welfare in Organic Livestock Production



Introducing the Animal Welfare Task Force

By Anne Macey

Are organic standards strong enough when it comes to animal welfare? This topic is being discussed more and more often these days. Are organic producers doing all they can to ensure the highest welfare standards on their farms, or are they just meeting the letter of the law? Are the principles of organic livestock husbandry reflected in the actual practices in the barn, or are economic constraints serious impediments when it comes to providing the animals with the care organic consumers expect?

Towards the end of 2005, Ralph Martin of the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada (OACC) assembled a group of individuals interested in the relationship between animal welfare and organic agriculture. This group calls itself the Animal Welfare Task Force and was adopted as a sub committee of the Expert Committee on Organic Agriculture (ECOA). We’ve spent the last year talking about how to make organic standards stronger with respect to welfare issues and how to make information from the research community more accessible to organic farmers.

We are currently working on recommendations for the interpretation of some of the general non-prescriptive statements in the livestock section of new National Organic Standard. We intend to send these recommendations to the technical committee of the CGSB for future consideration for a guidance document or standard revision.

The Farm Animal Welfare section of the OACC's website will serve as the central location for welfare-related information for producers, certifying bodies, extension specialists and researchers. Progress reports and other specific reports and factsheets produced by the Task Force will be available on this website as they are completed.


Factsheets produced in consultation with the ECOA Animal Welfare Task Force


The AWTF has reviewed the Organic Standard and has provided additional guidance for the optimal welfare of the following animal types


Members of the Animal Welfare Task Force

  • Lawrence Andres (producer) - A pioneer of organic milk production in Canada who now has his own company Harmony Organic Dairy Products.
  • François Labelle (extension specialist) - Organic Dairy Production Expert, Valacta.
  • Anne Macey (inspector) – An organic inspector, editor/writer of COG’s Organic Livestock Handbook and retired sheep farmer.
  • Anne Malleau (researcher) - The Executive Director of the Animal Compassion Foundation, an organization started by Whole Foods Market. The foundation serves as a hub for ranchers, meat producers and researchers to learn and share practices and methodologies that support the animals' physical needs, behaviours and well-being by incorporating wisdom from the past, enhanced by present and future innovations.

Past Members

  • Danielle Brault (extension specialist) - Agronome with MAPAQ.
  • Terri Giacomazzi (extension specialist) - the Industry Advisor on Organic Livestock and Animal Care with the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Lands
  • Derek Haley (instructor) - Assistant Professor of Applied Ethology and Animal Welfare and Associate Faculty with the Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph.
  • Dr. Hubert Karreman, is a widely known holistic practitioner and author and has just completed writing the US NOSB animal welfare papers for the regulations and guidance.
  • Sandy Lowndes (producer) – A beef producer who has worked as an organic livestock development specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food.
  • Ralph Martin (researcher) – founding director of the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada
  • Jane Morrigan (instructor) - website coordinator at OACC with an MSc in animal behaviour and 16 years of experience as dairy farmer in Nova Scotia; teaches Animal Welfare at the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus.
  • Nina von Keyserlingk (researcher/instructor) - assistant Professor with the Animal Welfare Program at the University of British Columbia; with research interests in dairy and beef cattle.
  • Jeff Rushen and Anne Marie de Passillé, (researchers) - research scientists at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Agassiz. Current research projects include developing measures of cow comfort to help design environments to eliminate long term stress and improve the health and welfare of dairy cattle, calf feeding management, improved methods (including automated methods) of detecting lameness in dairy cows, behavioural changes associated with illness in calves, methods of calf rearing, effects of flooring on cattle locomotion and welfare implications of automated milking systems.
  • Joe Stookey (researcher/instructor) Assistant Professor, University of Saskatchewan



Dairy Cattle Slaughter
Swine On-farm Euthanasia
Sheep Standards
Dairy Goats Ethics
  Human-Animal Relationship
Assessment & Auditing  
Humane Handling Task Force Fact Sheets








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Posted November 2007


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Dalhousie University Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada