Livestock Fact Sheets:
1. Converting CRP Land to Organic Production
2. Organic Poultry Production: Eggs
3. Organic Poultry Production: Meat
4. Pasture and Living Conditions for Organic Ruminant Animals
5. Protect Livestock in Hot Weather
6. Transitioning to Organic Beef Production
7. Transitioning to Organic Dairy Production
8. Transitioning to Organic Sheep and Goat Dairy Production
9. Transitioning to Organic Sheep and Goat Meat Production
Ask An Organic Specialist: Livestock Answers
I read your article on sprouted barley fodder, and I would like to know if I have to use certified organic barley seed to do this?
Yes, you must use 100% certified organic seed to grow any sprouted fodder used to feed organic animals. Sprouted fodder falls under the 100% certified organic feed requirement and not the crop seed exemption for commercial availability. The USDA National Organic Program recently clarified to all the certifiers that any seed used to produce sprouted fodder must be certified organic.
The scarcity of certified organic meat processors in the Midwest is one of the biggest issues facing the organic industry. The recent loss of the organic processor Premier Meats in southwest Wisconsin has brought this issue to the forefront. There are very few certified meat processors left in Wisconsin and only two of them handle poultry. The lack of certified plants places organic farmers at an economic disadvantage. Either we are unable to label our products as organic, or are forced to raise prices due to the greater distance and time to haul and process our animals.
I encourage you to ask meat processors near you to consider adding organic certification to their services. The rapid growth in consumer demand represents real opportunity to expand clientele and services. Processors can learn more from MOSES or the Organic Processing Institute (www.organicprocessinginstitute.org).
I’ve compiled a list of certified organic meat processing plants in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. Many of these are included in our Organic Resource Directory. Farmers in other states can find a certified organic processor by searching the USDA website (apps.ams.usda.gov/nop/, select “handling” and your state for a list).
Black Earth Meat Market
1345 Mills St., Black Earth, WI 53515
608-767-3940 | www.blackearthmeats.com
Weber Processing Plant (beef, hogs)
725 N. Jackson St., Cuba City, WI 53807
608-744-2159 | www.webermeats.com
Sonday Produce, LLC (poultry)
E870 Highway 54, Waupaca, WI 54981
715-572-1477 | www.sondayproduce.com
Pete’s Meat Service, LLC (beef, pork, sheep)
1665 Main St., Rudolph, WI 54475
Springbrook Meats, LLC (beef)
N3485 810th St., Elk Mound, WI 54739
Twin Cities Pack (poultry)
5607 East County Hwy J, Clinton, WI 53525
608-676-4428 | www.twincitiespack.com
Halal Food Processors
900 66th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52404
319-366-8327 | www.halalfoodprocessors.com
Amend Packing Co (beef)
410 S.E. 18th St., Des Moines, Iowa 50317
515-265-1618 | www.amendpackingcompany.com
220 W. 1st St., Earlham, Iowa 50072
515-758-9545 | www.lpb-inc.com
Premium Iowa Pork, LLC (pork)
108 First Ave. S., Hospers, Iowa 51238
712-752-8666 | www.premiumiowapork.com
Northern Pride Inc. (turkeys)
401 S. Conley Ave., Thief River Falls, MN 56701
218-681-1201 | www.northernprideinc.com
Kb Poultry Processing LLC (poultry)
15024 Sandstone Drive, Utica, MN 55979
507-932-9901 | www.kbpoultryprocessing.com
Ledebuhr Meat Processing, Inc. (beef, pork, lamb)
5645 6th St., Winona, MN 55987
507-452-7440 | www.ledebuhrmeats.com
Swanson Meats, Inc. (beef)
2700 26th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55406
612-721-4411 | www.swansonmeats.com
Lorentz Meats (beef, poultry, hogs)
705 Cannon Industrial Blvd., Cannon Falls, MN 55009
507-263-3618 | www.lorentzmeats.com
TFC Poultry (poultry)
103 Melby Ave., Ashby, MN 56309
218-747-2749 | email@example.com
Organic feed prices also have moderated in the Midwest and East (but not in the West, due to the California drought). These factors, combined with strong conventional prices, make this is an ideal time to transition to organic dairy—but, you do need to do some homework first.
Before beginning your transition, you should make sure there is a market for your milk. Start by contacting one or all of the organic milk buyers in your area. (Search the online Organic Resource Directory for “milk” to find a buyer near you.) Most of these companies manage their supply closely and commit to transitioning farmers far in advance of the date they can start shipping organic milk. This com¬mitment is key, as it makes no sense to undergo the expense of certification, or of buying organic feed, until you know when and if you can start selling organic milk.
Most companies like to bring on new producers in the fall or winter rather than the spring and summer when their milk supply is naturally at the highest peak. The milk buyers will deter¬mine if they need your milk (supply), if you are on or near one of their milk truck routes (loca¬tion), and determine when you can be ready to ship organic milk (timing).
If they need your milk, and the logistics and timing works out, they will put you in their milk plan and, as you approach your one-year herd transition, make a commitment to pick up your milk once your organic certification has been completed. This commitment is very help¬ful if you need to secure bank loans during the transition. The timing also will determine how you manage your transition—specifically, when you begin your one-year herd transition.
To transition a dairy, the land needs to be man¬aged without prohibited inputs for three years and the herd needs to be managed organically for one year. The National Organic Standards allow a dairy to transition the herd along with the land during the third year of transition. This is a critical point, and one that can greatly reduce feed costs. During that third year, you must manage the herd without antibiotics or prohibited herd inputs, and feed them exclu¬sively your own third-year transitional feed, or purchased certified organic feed.
If you have been managing your land without prohibited inputs already, you may only need to complete the one-year herd transition. Contact MOSES or a certification agency to determine your transition timetable. MOSES also can assist with finding an organic milk buyer in your area.
The rain we've had has made my pasture too wet to graze my herd. How can I meet the livestock grazing requirement of 120 days?
In addition, the National Organic Program regulations are very clear that the grazing sea¬son for your organic ruminant animals need not be continuous, just must total a minimum of 120 days when they are grazing. Your organic system plan must provide for acceptable grazing opportunities for the full grazing season, when weather cooperates. If there is a dry spell for two weeks at the end of August, you can feed hay to your cattle. Once the pastures improve in September, the animals should be allowed to graze.
You should have enough pasture acreage to provide a minimum of 30% dry matter intake from grazing for all of your ruminants for the full grazing season during a “normal” year. The minimum 120-day requirement is only for areas where the typical grazing season is that short, or there is a significant weather event that causes you to have a shortened grazing season. The typical grazing season in the Upper Midwest is 160-180 days. Use of intensive or rotational grazing management systems can greatly improve the quantity and quality of pasture for your animals.
The percent of dry matter taken in can be averaged over the whole season to meet the rule. For instance, your cattle may receive 60% dry matter intake from grazing in May, June and July and 10% dry matter intake from grazing in August, September and October (due to drought). You would average 35% with this scenario and that would be acceptable. The National Organic Program also has allowed a special exemption for less than the 30% dry matter intake from grazing when the USDA Secretary declares a region a disaster due to drought. However, there is no provision in the regulation to allow non-organic hay, forage or other feeds to be fed to organic livestock, even when a disaster has been declared.
This product is OMRI listed, but only kills by direct contact, so it works best on annual weeds, and will kill anything it comes in contact with. Vinegar burns all of the above ground growth, which is why it is less effective on perennial plants with a strong root system. It might work with multiple applications on buttercup, but it will also kill your grass and clover.
A better approach is probably to change the conditions that promote buttercup growth. It likes wet, compacted and acidic soils, so liming the soil to increase the pH, adding needed nutrients to enhance grass growth and improving drainage will work better in the long run. A soil test will help sort out how best to improve the soils in that pasture.
I suggest contacting the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group. They are an excellent organization of farmers that are committed to sustainable and organic production and are much more familiar with conditions in your region, and have likely dealt with this weed before: http://www.ssawg.org/
200 West Center St.
Fayetteville, AR 72701
P.O. Box 1552
Fayetteville, AR 72702
Resources & Research:
- Latest news on Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) from USDA
PED is a viral disease associated with outbreaks of diarrhea and vomiting in swine. While older pigs can recover, PED is deadly to piglets.
- How to build a fly barrel to control flies. YouTube video
Farmer Kevin Jahnke shows MOSES Organic Specialist Harriet Behar how to control flies using a home-made fly barrel.
- Fact Sheet: Organic Livestock Requirements
The National Organic Program has created a fact sheet covering the standards for livestock, allowed and prohibited substances, pasture requirements, and benefits of paster-based management.
- Guide for Organic Livestock Producers
Created as part of the USDA’s Organic Literacy Initiative to connect organic farmers, ranchers, and processors with the USDA resources available to them. Include information about organic requirements and best practices, and explain the certification process.
- Iowa Stray Voltage Guide
Iowa State University has created a 28-page guide to help farmers discover and resolve stray voltage concerns on livestock farms. The guide addresses causes of stray voltage, farm wiring, biosecurity protocols, and testing procedures.
- Online Organic Grower Guides
Online organic resources for growing apples, beans, carrots, grapes, and more from Cornell University. (Although these guides were written primarily for New York growers, the recommendations are applicable to growers in other humid regions.)
- Organic Feed Mills and Suppliers
A comprehensive list organized by state, provided by CROPP Cooperative.
- Organic Livestock Feed Processing Basics (PDF)
MN Department of Agriculture Fact Sheet
- Organic Poultry and Eggs Market News and Transportation Data
USDA Poultry Market News & Analysis has been covering the wholesale market for poultry and eggs since January 2004. This information is released each week on Monday. From the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.
- Profitable Poultry: Raising Birds on Pasture
16-page publication from SARE is available free online and in print.
- Report analyzes economic impact of NOP’s proposed regulations for living conditions for organic poultry
The National Organic Program (NOP) just released a 23-page report prepared by a third party that analyzes the economic impact of potential changes to the living conditions requirements for organic poultry, as recommended by NOSB.
From The Organic Broadcaster:
Before domestication, cattle lived a lifestyle similar to that of bison in the early American West. Many different plants with different nutrient and mineral profiles were available. Read more.
Good animal welfare is an integral part of organic livestock management. As with soil health and other aspects of organic production, animal welfare is most successfully achieved…. Read more.
Like it or not, winter is coming and the cows won’t be grazing much longer. With good management of pasture land, cows might be able to graze into late November and December, at least to some extent. Read more.
Many drugs found in modern medicine cabinets have been based on derivatives from natural plant or animal sources. Read more.
Caleb and Lauren Langworthy have been on their own land for only a couple of years, and know that the ground work they do now will make their job easier in the future. Read more.
The U.S. grass-fed beef sector has experienced exponential growth over the past 15 years. Read more.
I’ll admit it. I was a fan of Gianaclis Caldwell before opening her most recent book, The Small Scale Dairy: The Complete Guide to Milk Production for the Home and Market. Read more.
External parasites on livestock can lead to economic loss for producers. Studies have shown that even moderate infestations of parasites could cost you one pound of milk/meat…. Read more.
The first cases of a new swine disease, Porcine Endemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv), were reported in the United States in May 2013. Read more.
Poultry will eat many different things, and live. But, to grow efficiently and be cost-effective for egg or meat production, very specific nutritional needs must be met. Read more here.
Feeding flaxseed to cows offers multiple benefits
March | April 2014
Introducing ground flaxseed as a dietary component for organically managed cows may have a three-fold benefit. Read more here.
With dairy cows, goats and ewes the goals are healthy, productive mothers that deliver vigorous offspring, milk well…. Read more here.
The timing couldn’t be more perfect for Adam Danforth’s two new books…. Read more here.
With cold weather on the way, farmers with animals are setting up their winter feeding systems. Read more here.
The long-term, multistate research project aimed to identify organic management factors influencing…. Read more here.
A typical dairyperson’s life revolves around a regular twice-a-day commitment to milking cows. Read more here.
Historically, the family has been the primary institution for providing training, experience and resources…. Read more here.
One of the most important keys to success in organic dairy production is the rearing of healthy calves. Read more here.
Crops and livestock have historically been integrated in farming systems. However, in the last 50 years there has been a trend…. Read more here.
With the development of faster growing, high nutrient-demanding animal breeds, the high protein content and low cost of soybeans…. Read more here.
Record high grain prices and the drought of 2012 are driving up interest in alternative feeds. Read more here.
Proof Positive – Research on Raising Dairy Steers Provides Insights
With the extreme drought conditions in the Upper Midwest during 2012, many dairy producers continue…. Read more here.
Most of us have the perception that input costs rose slowly and steadily through…. Read more here.
During a trip to the Farm Service Agency a couple of years ago…. Read more here.