Brazil is one of the main producers of organic animal foods. According to a survey by Embrapa, for organic animal production systems, approximately 550 thousand chicken heads, 720 thousand dozen eggs, and 13.8 thousand cattle heads slaughtered per year are produced annually. The numbers are still low when compared to conventional productions. However, the movement of the market indicates the rapid growth of the sector that is pressured by the consumer market and by the producers who seek to produce a higher quality protein.
Do you know how organic protein is produced? What are its advantages and market trends? In this article, we will demystify production and present this growing sector following sustainability and food safety principles.
What is organic protein?
Animal organic protein is produced in sustainable production models that advocate management practices in preference to off-farm inputs, adjustment to regional production conditions, and the use of adapted breeds and crosses. It uses zootechnical and agronomic practices and mechanical and biological methods to control pests, diseases, and productivity gains. A fundamental point of management is to strive for animal health. For this reason, in the organic protein production system, animal welfare and good working conditions are key points.
How is it produced?
In the production of organic protein, it is recommended that animal nutrition be balanced and meet all the requirements of the animals. The inputs must be free of antibiotics, hormones, dewormers, growth-promoting additives, appetite stimulants, and urea. Supplements, genetically modified foods, or even vaccines manufactured with transgenic technology must not be used. Forage production must be carried out by forming and managing pastures, weeds, silage, and hay. In this respect, most of the food must come from the property itself.
It is important to differentiate the production of an organic protein with the production system known as green production or grass-fed. In green production, fires are allowed for pasture management, a practice prohibited in organic livestock. The fertilization of pastures in the green system can be carried out using synthetic fertilizers, while in organic production, only green fertilization is allowed. In the green system, animal supplementation can come from conventional crops; in the organic system, it can only be carried out with products of vegetable origin, with at least 85% of organic origin. Both the producer and the consumer must understand these differences so that organic protein is valued properly in the market, considering its production origins.
The greatest limitations of animal organic protein production still lie in the production of forage and grain used for animal feed and animal health. In terms of feeding, the limitation occurs due to the scarcity of organic feed for supplementation, low soil fertility in pasture areas, low adoption of the practice of green manure, and the unfavorable climate at many times of the year.
What do consumers think?
Organic production is a current demand of society. Consumers were increasingly looking for products with higher quality, nutrition, fair price, food safety, free of pathogens (cysticercosis, brucellosis, tuberculosis, etc.) and chemical products (acaricides, antibiotics, dewormers, etc.) and produced in the most natural way possible. There is also concern with the origin of the food, who produced it, the quality of life of the cattle farmer and his collaborators, and animal welfare. The concern for the environment and the social role of agriculture also lead consumers to choose organic protein in their diet. The consumer market is changing, and the population is becoming aware of how the way their food is produced impacts the sustainability of the systems.
With the growing consumer concern regarding food health, organic foods show a continuous increase in their demand. And to assist the producer, Decoy offers biological solutions for pest control in livestock, aiming at more sustainable livestock. Learn about our products and how we can help you!