Organic Livestock Feed Requirements

I think Organic lifestyle
is the future. We decided to go organic because
there was a demand for it. Great lifestyle, good way to raise kids
and raise healthy food. USDA Organic standards require that all USDA-certified organic
livestock must be fed 100% organically grown
and prepared feed. This includes pastures and
forages, grains, as well as plant materials used
as bedding for organic livestock Certain feed additives, such as
vitamins and minerals, can be fed to organic livestock. So we’re a certified organic
farm, so our pasture has been
certified organic and so all the feed that we get
is organic certified. The way we know whenever we are
looking for feed we make sure we get an organic
food producer certificate from the person we are getting
the food from, so that we know
they are certified so nothing comes back to us so that we are feeding them what
they should be getting to stay in compliance with the
organic certifications. Organic producers are
required to provide diets that are adequate to meet the nutritional requirements
of their animals. The USDA organic regulations
also require access to pasture for ruminant livestock during
the grazing season. So the pasture rule was written
for ruminants, so it’s specifically is talking
about ruminants. But, all animals need outdoor
access. The regulations have specific
requirements and guidelines for organic ruminant livestock, such as cattle, sheep,
and goats. Specifically, these animals must
consume at least 30 percent of their dry
matter intake as pasture or residual forage
during the grazing season, which must be at least 120 days
per year. In the winters months we feed
silage, haylage, purchased grain,
purchased alfalfa and in the summer months we
graze the animals and after we take
the first cutting of grass off of the 75 acres
to put into silage bags, we wait about 30 days and then we have
beautiful 2-acre paddocks that we give the cows a feeding
of after every milking and we manage that
so my 60-100 cows, depending on the time of the
year have access to pasture for a minimum of 120-150 days. So, it just takes a little
management and I have, I guess you could call it
a spreadsheet that I document as they move
from pasture to pasture and when they go out in
the spring, how many days they are out and
how much they consume. Ruminant-livestock producers
also are required to document all feed rations fed to each
type of livestock, including feed produced on-farm, feed purchased
from off-farm sources, feed supplements and additives,
and pasture provided. These are our silage bags, they are our feed storage for
the winter, they are insiled short cut
grass, they are a ton and half per
lineal foot and it’s like canning your feed
for the winter for your cows. My feed rations do change over
the course of the year. I have what we consider a
spring/summer ration, which the cows are mainly on
pasture, they don’t take the stored feed that we keep through the winter
months and I work with a nutritionalist
who writes up a plan so that I can keep healthy cows. In order to verify your farm’s
compliance with the organic standards,
your inspector will choose at least one feed type to audit
over a period of time. The purpose of a feed audit is to evaluate if producers have
enough organic feed produced on-farm or purchased to provide
for their animals’ needs over the course of the year. When tracking your feed you have to show that you have
enough feed on a farm to produce how much eggs that
you say you are producing. Otherwise they might think there
is a discrepancy that maybe your sourcing feed
from somewhere else that’s not organic. Other things too, that if you go in the cube you
see that we have nesting boxes and in the nesting boxes is
straw so that the eggs are protected
when they are laid, they don’t get cracked. You need to also source organic
straw for your nesting boxes because chickens can eat that if
they choose, so that has to be organic. In addition to the records of
how much feed they grew and purchased, we would ask to see records
during a feed audit for how much feed has been used. This is an area that we get a
lot of questions from our
customers about. What we need to do a successful
feed audit is for the amount that is
actually being fed to get recorded at least
every time it changes and that way
we can piece together how much feed is been used
for each group of animals. An Audit trail refers to the
documentation necessary to determine the source,
movement, and transfer of ownership of any organic product. A complete audit trail tracks
the identity, sources, and quantities of every feed
ingredient back to the source. For producers that grow their
own feed, one of the things that is most
important, is to keep a record of the harvest and yield of
their own crops. Sometimes that is forgotten because producers think that
since they are not selling it they might not have a record
involved, but in order to do a feed audit we are going to need to know how
much organic feed they produced. For producers that are buying
feed, keeping the invoices and
receipts and making sure that they
identify the feed as organic is an important way to prepare
for the feed audit. Keeping your records organized even if it’s just in manila
folders is going to make your inspection
go so much faster, than if things aren’t in
chronological order I need to sort them in piles of
what they are. Just those little steps can make
an inspection go so much faster than if I’m sitting there
sorting and trying to guess where these
records go. The USDA National Organic
Program’s Guide for Organic Livestock Producers provides a list of records
needed to show compliance with the organic regulations. So we keep all of our records in
QuickBooks and Excel and that makes
our organic inspection really easy every year. I’ve got all of my records right
at hand and a folder with all of the
receipts so it makes it really easy
for the inspector and I to sit down and look at how
much I’ve spent on feed what kind of feed I’ve gotten and then how many birds I have
on hand. Additional records must be kept
for ruminant livestock including Grazing records that includes
pasturing dates and locations. A method for calculating dry
matter demand and dry matter intake for feeds
and pasture. When my inspector comes out for
an audit, she or he looks through my
documentation to see when the feed has been
purchased, when the animals have been fed. Do I have enough feed to cover my animals
through the winter season, do I have enough pasture in the
fields. They look at the fields, to see
if I am able to pasture the minimum 120 days of 30% dry
matter intake because that is important. So I try to do better than that. A producer’s feed rations may be
updated at any time if they turn out to be different
than expected. Careful documentation of your
changes will allow the inspector to understand
your operation’s practices and verify compliance
with the organic standards. Whenever we change the amount of
feed that we feed the chickens, we write it down in an Excel
spreadsheet, where I’m also keeping track of
the number of birds that we have so that we can compare the
number of birds that we have versus how much feed that we are
feeding them. So that we know when to order
more feed and make sure that the birds are
staying healthy. People say that the organic
certification is hard, it’s a lot of paperwork,
it takes time and it can take time the paperwork honestly it’s not
as hard as people think it is. It’s doable and the renewal
packet is pretty simple if nothing has changed. And it’s easy to go through it
pretty quickly. People who come out to do the
inspection are pretty awesome, pretty easy to get along with
and look at stuff and they aren’t out
to make you be a bad guy or anything like that. They want to help you. They want to make the process as
easy as it can be. For more information about
organic livestock certification please visit these websites.

1 thought on “Organic Livestock Feed Requirements

  1. 120 days per year at pasture = less than 1/2 year (182) also NOT grass fed or finished by any means. Summary organic label = crap

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