Free Range Eggs and Organic Eggs – Regulations South Africa
Free Range Eggs and Organic Eggs – Regulations South Africa
Standards for organically produced animals and products thereof
6. (1) Organically produced animals shall be produced as follows:
(a) From organic livestock when available, and in the choice of breeds or strains account shall be taken of the capacity of the animals to adapt to local conditions and their vitality and resistance to disease, and specific diseases or health problems associated with some breeds or strains used in intensive and factory production shall be avoided.
(b) From breeds that can both copulate and give birth naturally.
(c) All animals shall be bred on the operation: Provided that only for poultry production may chicks be brought in without being bred on the operation.
(d) Artificial (instrumental) insemination of animals is allowed.
(e) Embryo transfer techniques and other forms of assisted reproduction are not allowed in organic production.
(f) When a herd or flock is constituted for the first time, or with high mortality of animals caused by catastrophic circumstances, and organic livestock is not available, the approved certifying organisation may give permission for allowing brought-in conventional animals according to the following age limits:
(i) Chickens for the production of eggs and meat less than three days old.
(j) All brought-in conventional animals shall come from extensive husbandry practices.
(2) Operations for organically produced animals shall comply with the following production practices:
(a) Management of the animal environment shall take into account the size of the group, the animals’ sex and the behaviour/needs of the animals and provides for:
(i) Access to grazing/pastures appropriate to the type of animal and season: Provided that the approved certifying organisation shall approve the need for restricting access to grazing/pastures.
(ii) Sufficient free movement in free-range, open-air exercise areas or open air runs, mainly covered by vegetation, and which may be partially covered.
(iii) Sufficient fresh air and natural daylight according to the needs of the animals.
(iv) Protection against excessive sunlight, temperatures, rain and wind shall be provided for use by the animals.
(v) Stock densities in buildings shall be such as to allow adequate area according to the species, breed, age and needs of the animals, to assume all natural postures and to make natural movements such as standing, lying, grooming, turning around, stretching and wing flapping.
(vi) Natural materials shall be used for animals requiring bedding and ample relatively clean dry bedding should be provided in the rest area.
(vii) Ample and easy access to fresh potable water and fresh palatable feed according to the needs of the animals.
(viii) Adequate facilities for expressing behaviour in accordance with the biological and ethological needs of the species.
(ix) No construction materials or production equipment shall be used in a way that may significantly harm human and animal health.
(x) Herd animals shall not be kept individually: Provided that the stage of development and behavioural needs of the species concerned shall be considered when deciding on the size of the group.
(xi) Keeping livestock tethered is forbidden.
(xii) Housing construction shall ensure that air circulation, dust level, temperature, relative humidity and gas concentration are kept within limits not harmful to the animals: Provided that housing is not mandatory in areas with appropriate climatic conditions.
(xiii) The perches, indoor housing and outdoor exercise areas shall be of a number and size to commensurate with the size of the group of animals/birds and the minimum surface areas for perches, indoor housing and outdoor exercise areas are laid down in Annexure IV: Provided that in poultry houses for laying hens a sufficiently large part of the floor area shall be available to the hens for the collection of bird droppings.
(xiv) At least half the floor area of livestock housing shall be solid, not of slatted or of grid construction and the floors shall not be slippery: Provided that the solid floor area may be reduced to one third for poultry that shall be covered with litter material.
(xviii) Housing, equipment and utensils shall be properly cleaned and disinfected to prevent cross-infection and the build up of disease carrying organisms and faeces, urine and uneaten or spilt feed shall be removed as often as required to minimise smell and to avoid attracting insects or rodents.
(xix) Water fowl shall have access to a stream, pond or lake.
(xx) Poultry houses/buildings shall have exit/entry pop-holes of adequate size for the birds and the pop-holes shall have a combined length of at least 4 m per 100 m² of the house/building available to the poultry.
(xxi) Poultry buildings shall be emptied of livestock between each batch of poultry reared, cleaned and disinfected and the buildings and open air runs shall be left empty for at least two months for health reasons and for the vegetation to grow back.
(b) When natural day length is prolonged by artificial lighting maximum hours respective to species, geographical considerations and general health of animals, shall be used: Provided that for poultry a maximum of 16 hours light per day is permitted followed by a continuous nocturnal rest period without artificial lighting for at least eight hours.
(c) Physical castration by competent personnel is allowed, except for castration in poultry (capons).
(d) Mutilation shall not be allowed, with possible exceptions for castration (excluding poultry), tail docking of lambs, dehorning and ringing: Provided that suffering shall be minimised, anaesthetics used where appropriate, operations are carried out at the most appropriate age by competent personnel and the treatments are intended to improve the health, welfare or hygiene of the animals: Provided further that these exceptions are subject to need and approval by the approved certifying organisation.
(e) The allowed feed and substances used in feeding stuffs as well as the fodder preservatives and processing aids for silage are indicated in Annexure V: Provided that the operator regularly evaluates the feed and substances used on the operation against the criteria in Annexure I to re-confirm the organic status thereof or to identify possible alternatives that are of better organic status: Provided further that the operator reconfirms with the approved certifying organisation when the feed or substances are changed.
(f) Animals should be fed 100% organic feed: Provided that –
(i) in the case of herbivores at least 50% of the feed shall come from the operation itself or be produced in co-operation with other organic operations in the region;
(ii) up to 30%, on dry basis, of the feed formula or rations on average may comprise of in-conversion feed or up to 60% if the feed comes from the operation itself;
(iii) feed from conventional operation origin may be allowed, in situations where it is impossible to obtain adequate organic feed, to a maximum of 5% dry matter for herbivores and 10% dry matter for other species (calculated on an annual basis);
(iv) at least 60% of the dry matter in daily rations of herbivores shall consist of roughage, fresh or dried fodder, or silage;
(v) roughage, fresh or dried fodder, or silage shall be added to the daily ration for pigs and poultry; and
(vi) the feed formula used in the fattening stage of poultry shall contain at least 65% cereals.
(g) The following products may not be included in, nor added to the feed or in any other way be given to the animals:
(i) Synthetic appetisers.
(ii) Preservatives, except when used as processing aids.
(iii) Artificial colouring agents.
(v) Farm animal by-products, with the exception of those listed in Annexure V.
(vi) Droppings, dung or other manure.
(vii) Feed subjected to solvent extraction or the addition of other chemical agents.
(viii) Pure amino acids.
(ix) Substances such as antibiotics, coccidiostatics, medical substances, growth regulators for production, stimulation or suppression of natural growth.
(x) Hormones for heat induction and heat synchronisation unless used for an individual animal against reproductive disorders, justified by veterinary indications.
(h) Feeding shall be such as to ensure quality production rather than maximising production, while meeting the nutritional requirement of the animals at various stages of their development: Provided that fattening practices are allowed in so far as they are reversible at any stage of the rearing process.
(i) Force feeding is forbidden.
(l) Disease prevention shall be based on encouraging the resistance to disease and prevention of infections and health problems by:
(i) The selection of appropriate breeds or strains of animals.
(ii) The application of stress free animal husbandry practices appropriate to the requirements of each species.
(iii) The use of high quality feed, together with regular exercise and access to pasturage.
(iv) Assuring an appropriate density of livestock.
(v) Regular observation of animal’s condition and early intervention if needed.
(m) The well-being of the animals is the primary consideration in the choice of illness treatment and a sick or injured animal shall be treated immediately, in isolation or appropriate housing where necessary, irrespective of the consequence to the certification status of the animal: Provided that if an animal is so severely diseased or injured or that to prolong its life would cause unnecessary suffering, it shall be immediately and humanely destroyed.
(n) The use of veterinary medicinal products shall comply with the following:
(i) Phytotherapeutic, homeopathic and trace elements and other substances listed in Part 3 of Annexure V, effective for the species of animal and condition for which the treatment is intended, shall be used in preference to chemically-synthesised allopathic veterinary medicinal products or antibiotics.
(ii) If the products in subregulation (n)(i) are not, or is unlikely to be, effective in combating illness or injury and treatment is essential to avoid suffering or distress to the animal, chemically-synthesised allopathic veterinary medicinal products or antibiotics may be used under the responsibility of a veterinarian.
(iii) The use of chemically-synthesised allopathic veterinary medicinal products or antibiotics for preventive treatment is prohibited.
(iv) The use of substances to promote growth or production, the use of hormones and similar substances to control growth or reproduction, are prohibited: Provided that the substances may be used for an individual animal against reproductive disorders, justified by veterinary indications.
(v) When veterinary medicinal products are used it shall be recorded together with the details of the diagnosis, method of administration, duration of treatment and legal withdrawal period.
(vi) Livestock treated shall be clearly identified, individually in the case of large animals and individually or by batch in the case of poultry and small animals.
(vii) Vaccinations, treatments for parasites as well as legally required veterinary treatments to animals, buildings, equipment and facilities shall be allowed, including cases where a disease has been recognised as present in a specific area and these treatments may include genetically modified organisms and products derived from such organisms.
(viii) When allopathic veterinary medicinal products are used the withdrawal period shall be at least double the legal period or at least 48 hours when no withdrawal period is specified.
(ix) With the exception of the treatments as indicated in subregulation (n)(vii), where an animal or a group of animals receive more than two courses of treatments with chemically-synthesised allopathic veterinary medicinal products or antibiotics within one year, the animals shall again undergo the prescribed conversion periods.
(3) Organically produced animals and the farm-land and feed associated with their production are subject to the following conversion practices:
(a) The conversion periods for products from plant origin, as prescribed in regulation 5(3), shall apply to pastures, meadows, farm-land and their products used for feed and grazing.
(c) Animal products can be certified organic after the animals on the operation or relevant part thereof have been under organic practices for at least –
(i) twelve months in the case of equidae and bovines for meat production;
(ii) six months in the case of small ruminants and pigs;
(iii) six months in the case of animals for milk production;
(iv) ten weeks for poultry for meat production, brought in before they are three days old; and
(v) six weeks in the case of poultry for egg production, brought in before they are three days old.
(4) Organically produced animals shall be transported and slaughtered as follows:
(a) The handling during transport and slaughter shall be gentle without the use of electric sticks and such instruments.
(b) Slaughter and transportation standards shall take into consideration:
(i) Stress caused to the animal.
(ii) Fitness of the animal.
(iii) Loading and unloading.
(iv) Mixing different groups of animals or animals of different sex.
(v) Quality and suitability of mode of transport and handling equipment.
(vi) Temperature and relative humidity.
(vii) Hunger and thirst.
(viii) Specific needs of each animal.
(c) No chemically or synthesised tranquillisers/sedatives or stimulants shall be given prior to or during transport.
(d) Each animal or group of animals shall be identifiable during transport and slaughter.
(e) Slaughterhouse journey times shall not exceed eight hours.
(f) For poultry, the minimum age at slaughter shall be –
(i) 81 days for chickens;
(ii) 49 days for Peking ducks;
(iii) 70 days for female Muscovy ducks;
(iv) 84 days for male Muscovy ducks;
(v) 92 days for Mallard ducks;
(vi) 94 days for guinea fowl;
(vii) 140 days for turkeys and roasting geese; and
(viii) where producers do not apply these minimum slaughter ages, they shall use slow-growing strains: Provided that the approved certifying organisation approve and recognise the need.
(5) Livestock manure shall be handled as follows:
(a) Stocking density shall be such that the total amount of manure applied per hectare shall not exceed 170 kg of Nitrogen per hectare/year of agricultural area used.
(b) The density of livestock equivalent to 170 kg of Nitrogen per hectare/year is given in Annexure VI to be used as a guideline.
(c) Storage facilities for livestock manure shall be of a capacity to prevent the pollution of water by direct discharge or by run-off or infiltration of the soil.
(6) Organic livestock and livestock products shall be identified at all stages of their production, preparation, transport and marketing.
(net area available to animals)
(m² of area available in rotation/head)
8 laying hens per nest or in case of common nest 120 cm²/bird
4, provided that the limit of 170 kg of N/ha/
year is not exceeded
(in fixed housing)
10 with a maximum of 21 kg live weight/m²
(for guinea fowl only)
4 broilers and guinea fowl
Fattening poultry in mobile housing
16 in mobile poultry houses with a maximum of 30 kg live weight/m²
2,5, provided that the limit of 170 kg of N/ha/
year is not exceeded
NB: TOTAL Farm area to ensure 170kg of N/ha/year is not exceeded:
GUIDELINE: DENSITY OF LIVESTOCK EQUIVALENT TO 170 KG OF
NITROGEN PER YEAR/HECTARE
Class or species
Maximum number of animals per ha
equivalent to 170kg N/ha/year*
This means that for every 580 broiler chickens, you need a total farm area (including the actual chicken house and pasture area) of 1ha, and for layers you can only have 230 chickens p/ha.