Animal-friendly product range thanks to Naturaplan, Naturafarm and Natura-Beef
For 22 years now, we have been offering affordable organic foods produced using environmentally and animal-friendly methods under our own-label Naturaplan brand. We laid the foundations for the Naturafarm animal husbandry programmes back in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, 40 per cent of our meat range already comes from these label programmes. Almost 20 per cent comes from particularly animal-friendly farms (PAS).
Naturafarm: animals with access to outdoor areas
The Naturafarm quality seal guarantees the use of high-quality Swiss meat and eggs produced in animal-friendly husbandry with access to outdoor areas and free-range husbandry. Animals on a Naturafarm farm enjoy lots of space, can move around freely and always have access to outdoor areas. In the sheds, there are separate areas where they can eat, sleep and play. The shed floor is covered with plenty of straw.
For farms operating under our Naturafarm quality seal, stringent regulations apply:
- Rearing, fattening, slaughter and processing in Switzerland.
- Farms producing for Naturafarm are obliged to participate in the federal animal husbandry programmes PAS (for particularly animal-friendly stabling) and RAUS (for regular access to outdoor areas). This means that calves and pigs must have access to an open-air yard. Beef cows, laying hens and broilers are put out to pasture.
- The farms must satisfy the requirements of the Swiss federal ordinance for ecological certification (“ökologischer Leistungsnachweis – ÖLN”).
- Animal feed used is guaranteed non-genetically modified and complies with the Coop guidelines on livestock feeding.
- There is end-to-end, continuous quality control and comprehensive traceability.
- For processed products (meat products), only Naturafarm meat and Naturafarm eggs are used. All other ingredients are from Switzerland, wherever possible.
Something to keep inquisitive pigs busy
Pigs are intelligent, inquisitive and need to be kept busy. In the Naturafarm sheds and pens they have various possibilities to play both indoors and out. Naturafarm pigs are fed a healthy diet – of cereals, for example. Genetically modified raw materials and meat-and-bone meal are prohibited.
Calves are kept in groups
The Naturafarm veal calves with access to outdoor areas are fed a diet which is specific to their needs. This includes full-fat milk or by-products from cheese production as well as fresh hay and water. They take in lots of vital iron with the fresh hay, which gives the meat its healthy pink colour.
Both laying hens and broilers have access to pastures on Naturafarm farms. The sheds are spacious and set up to be particularly animal-friendly, so that the livestock can always indulge their need for movement. Naturafarm broilers live twice as long on the farm as chickens on conventional chicken farms. The animals also have access to a winter garden should the pasture be closed due to snow or bad weather. This is strewn with straw so that they can scratch for grain or take a dust bath.
Swiss Animal Protection (SAP) checks
The Naturafarm guidelines are more stringent than the Swiss animal protection laws, and the Naturafarm farms are inspected regularly and without prior warning by SAP.
Naturaplan: organic from the shed to the table
Along with Demeter, Naturaplan is the organic brand subject to the strictest requirements in Switzerland – including those governing animal welfare. A few examples:
- The whole farm is organically managed, not just certain parts of the business.
- The animals live in small herds and have access to outdoor areas even in winter.
- As well as grass and hay the animals eat organically grown cereals, for example.
- Only robust breeds that are particularly resilient and healthy are chosen.
- The preventative use of antibiotics, often commonplace in conventional animal husbandry, is prohibited.
- Farmers do not use synthetic chemicals such as herbicides or artificial fertilizers.
Inspection by independent bodies
At least once a year, independent, state-accredited institutions inspect the organic farms that supply us. Our processing businesses and suppliers are also checked annually, so that the “organic” label appears only on what really is organic.
Natura-Beef cattle and Natura-Veal calves: out to pasture with their mothers
Already since 1978 we also offer meat from animals reared in suckler cow husbandry systems. As the name indicates, these beef cattle and veal calves grow up with their mothers, as nature intended. Suckler cow husbandry is thus the most natural way to rear beef cattle. We sell meat from these animals under the Natura-Beef and Natura-Veal labels with the Naturafarm quality seal.
Natural animal feed and freedom of movement
Calves reared by suckler cows stay with their mothers for five months drinking milk straight from the udder. Young beef cattle stay with their mothers for ten months. The calves and young beef cattle reared in suckler cow husbandry systems eat fresh grass and hay as well as drink their mothers’ milk. This is the best feed for them, because it gives them lots of vital minerals. The animals are free to go outside whenever they wish – either out onto the field or, in winter and during bad weather, into an open-air yard.
Meat from healthy calves
It can be challenging to ensure calves get sufficient amounts of iron in their diet. Since 2008, it has been a legal requirement according to the Swiss Animal Protection Act that calves are also provided with roughage and water in addition to milk. This certainly helps, although it is still no guarantee of a health supply of iron.
A survey conducted by Swiss Animal Protection (SAP) concerning the supply of iron to calves in Switzerland shows that near-natural systems such as Natura-Veal (veal from suckler cow husbandry, exclusively available to buy from Coop) and organic meat display higher haemoglobin values. A distinct improvement has been observed in the Naturafarm system compared to 2010; however, closer analysis reveals that even here, there is still room for improvement. We are working on this with a series of concrete measures. For example, in spring 2016, we introduced our largest-ever hayracks for Naturafarm calves. It is also important to ensure that these racks are kept full at all times, and this is monitored by inspections carried out by Swiss Animal Protection (SAP) without prior warning.
We are also promoting projects designed to improve handling of calves during the first few weeks of their lives, which is a critical period for the development of their immune systems.