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Research article2004Peer reviewed

The ethical contract as a tool in organic animal husbandry

Lund V, Anthony R, Rocklinsberg H


This article explores what an ethic for organic animal husbandry might look like, departing from the assumption that organic farming is substantially based in ecocentric ethics. We argue that farm animals are necessary functional partners in sustainable agroecosystems. This opens up additional ways to argue for their moral standing. We suggest an ethical contract to be used as a complementary to the ecocentric framework. We expound the content of the contract and end by suggesting how to apply this contract in practice. The contract enjoins us to share the wealth created in the agroecosystem (by our joint contributions) by enjoining us to care for the welfare and needs of the individual animal, and to protect them from exploitation (just as human co-workers should not be exploited). The contract makes promoting good animal welfare a necessary condition for benefiting farm animals. Animals for their part are guaranteed coverage under the contract so long as they continue to contribute to the system with products and services


Animal welfare; contract ethics; organic animal husbandry; organic farming; organic livestock production

Published in

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
2004, Volume: 17, number: 1, pages: 23-49

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Animal and Dairy Science
    Veterinary Science

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)