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Organic Certification for Livestock Operations

Key Certification Requirements

The Land

Certification for livestock includes the land which animals have access to or graze on, the management practices for the animals, and the animals themselves. All grazing land and other accessible land where animals will be located must be free of prohibited fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides for at least three years.

The Animals

Cows, sheep, pigs, and other mammals must have been managed organically from the last third of gestation. Poultry must be managed organically from the second day of life. Animals can only be fed certified organic feed, and, yes, this includes certified pasture too. Antibiotics are prohibited and only approved medicines can be used.

Living Conditions

Livestock must be provided living conditions that accommodate their natural behavior and wellbeing; as applicable to the species and their stage of life.
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Livestock Organic System Plans Include:

  • Physical characteristics of the land and how it has been managed over the past three years to confirm that it is eligible for certification (see requirement for farm certification)
  • Description of the management practices for the land and the animals, including the origin of the animals
  • The recordkeeping system used to track, among other things, sources and volume of feed given to the livestock, required pasture time for ruminant animals, and access to outdoors for poultry

Recordkeeping Tools

Livestock Recordkeeping Forms

Part of our role as a certification agency is to confirm you are meeting the organic regulations with all the certified products you produce. As we cannot be present for every step in that process, we gather records that show this to be true. Our Organic System Plan (the forms you complete in the application process describe what you will do, and our sample recordkeeping forms can help you document your actions as you enact that plan.

Resource Overview Livestock Recordkeeping FAQ

Additional Sources for Sample Records

The NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Project provides a wealth of organic farming and processing information and sample documentation forms. Use the project’s website to find the package that best fits your production type. Do you have a sustainable agriculture question? Get answers about specific farming practices from ATTRA.

Ask an ATTRA expert!

CCOF Certification Tips

Maintaining organic certification isn't always easy, so we developed these handy tips on certain aspects of certification: Certification Tips for Livestock Operations

Certification Tips for Livestock Operations

Resources for Organic Livestock Operations

There are specific rules for livestock operations concerning pasture access and grazing for ruminant animals. Our Pasture Rule tools and resources will help you determine how to stay compliant.


National Organic Program (NOP) Pasture Rule Website

NODPA Pasture Rule Resources Page

ATTRA/NOP Resource Packet