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Organic broiler production systems vary greatly in Europe. Usually they are either free-range systems, with mobile houses, where animals are free to move from inside to pasture, or systems with a fixed house and controlled access to a grazing area. In both cases the feeding area is situated indoors.
Farmers have to respect the European regulation for organic production, which requires that they use feed produced on their own land or in the same region. Otherwise, farmers can buy feed that has been certified by approved certification schemes. In organic broiler production, one of the major difficulties for the farmers is to produce meat with slow growing breeds at reasonable cost. Broilers must remain on the farm for a minimum of 81 days before reaching the slaughter age. It is important to find the right compromise between genetic type and feeding intensity, in order to respect the demand for energy, protein and amino acids at each stage of production.
Respecting animal behaviour and welfare is very important in order to reduce stress and diseases, and to preserve animal health. To help achieve this, broilers needs to have access to a free range area of at least 4 square metres per animal (580 broilers/hectare), and coverage surface about 10 square metres per animal.
Organic standards require organic broilers to be free range and have access to open-air spaces as soon as possible (figure 1) but at a minimum of…
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