FAQs by livestock

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New to organic certification or looking to become certified and not sure where to start? You might find these FAQ topics most useful:
Temporary confinement of organic animals is allowed for specific reasons. These reasons are described in §205.239. All periods of confinement must be documented. Confinement records will be reviewed at annual inspections.
Yes, breeding bulls, animals denied pasture in accordance with temporary confinement allowances (§ 205.239(b)(1-8), and slaughter stock in the finishing phase are exempt from the 30% dry matter intake (DMI) requirement. Bulls cannot be sold, labeled, or represented as organically produced if they are denied pasture. Those animals...
No, specific details about space requirements are not regulated at this point in time. The living conditions you provide must accommodate the health and natural behavior of the animals and include year-round access to the outdoors, exercise areas, fresh air, direct sunlight, shade, and shelter. Appropriate clean, dry bedding must be provided, and any shelter provided must be constructed to limit...
Yes, other allowed medical treatments include vitamins, minerals, probiotics, herbal remedies, and electrolytes. All health care materials must be listed in your Organic System Plan (OSP).Use MyCCOF: Materials Search to find and add materials approved for use in organic production or to request the review of a material you would like to use.
Certification of animals depends on many factors, including your recordkeeping system and the history of the land on which you manage animals. In some cases, CCOF can certify young animals that you currently manage when complete records are available to demonstrate continuous organic management. The final determination about whether animals can be certified will be made after your initial...
Non-organic breeder stock must be managed organically during the last third of gestation when the offspring are to be raised as organic livestock. They must also be managed organically while lactating and providing milk to their offspring. During other times, non-organic breeder stock does not need to be managed in accordance with organic standards.
If organic and non-organic animals are pastured in the same field, they must be clearly identified in a manner that will prevent commingling of the final organic product (meat, milk, etc.).
No, organic animals may only be fed certified organic feed, including pasture; however, dairy operations that are in their third year of organic management may feed crops and forage from land that is in its final year of transition during the 12 months immediately prior to the sale of organic milk. This allowance is provided to reduce the financial burden to dairy farms that want to transition to...
Yes, you may store organic and non-organic feed in the same area ONLY if there is clear identification and labeling of feed, and you ensure there is no commingling of the organic feed and non-organic feed.
No, you must use 100% certified organic feed. There are no exceptions.
No, once an organic animal is treated with any prohibited material, including antibiotics, it can never be brought back to organic production. Any animal treated with antibiotics will lose its organic status and can never return to organic production, even if the animal is managed organically and remains on the organic farm. You must ensure that animals treated with prohibited materials,...
To market your final product as organic, all slaughter and processing facilities must be certified organic. Contact facilities directly to determine if they have an organic certificate. In cases where a facility does not have an organic certificate, you may not use the facility unless it is inspected by CCOF on behalf of your operation. To be inspected by CCOF, the facility and its practices must...
Yes, non-organic animals can graze on certified organic land without affecting the land’s certification. If organic and non-organic animals are pastured in the same field, they must be clearly identified in a manner that will prevent commingling of the final organic product (meat, milk, etc.).
Dairy operations may transition non-certified livestock to organic by managing animals organically for one year. This is a one-time allowance for an entire, distinct herd. All other livestock, excluding poultry, must be managed organically starting no later than the last third of gestation to qualify for organic certification. Poultry must be managed organically starting no later than the 2nd day...
You may only use products that are certified organic, OMRI or WSDA-listed, or approved by CCOF. If you wish to use any product that is not certified organic or OMRI or WSDA approved, you must receive CCOF approval prior to use. You should always ensure that your approved list of materials, also known as your Organic System Plan (OSP) Materials List, includes all products you use or plan to use....
CCOF does not maintain a complete list of certified organic slaughter facilities. It is best to contact facilities directly to determine if they have a valid organic certificate. You can search for CCOF certified facilities by using CCOF’s online directory. Keep in mind that facilities certified by other organic certification agencies are not included in these results....
Livestock health care is largely based on preventive practices such as balanced nutrition and reduction of stress through exercise, freedom of movement, and appropriate housing. Vaccines and other veterinary biologics are allowed, as well as herbal preparations, and a...
Animals must be allowed to graze whenever pasture is available. Local geography and climate will determine the number of days that pasture is actually available in a given area, but organic ruminants must graze for at least 120 days per year. Oftentimes organic animals will graze 365 days per year. If irrigation water is available to your operation, it must be used to extend the length of the...
No, it is possible to manage a “split” operation, meaning that some animals are managed organically while others are not. It is important to make sure that the organic animals are easily identifiable, organic feeds are not commingled with non-organic feeds, and that you keep records of all farm activities, including both the organic and non-organic portions. Inspections for split operations tend...
On-farm slaughter activities can be included as part of your Organic System Plan. CCOF will review your slaughter practices, including animal handling practices, and inspect this portion of your operation annually. In some cases, your operation may be required to comply with additional USDA requirements for slaughter operations. You will need to contact the USDA for more information. If you wish...
Under the National Organic Program standards you may not withhold treatment from a sick animal in order to preserve its organic status. Any and all treatments, including antibiotics, must be used to return an animal to health, and all medical treatments must be recorded.
Under the NOP there are specific requirements for the use of raw manure. Raw animal manure must be composted unless it is: Applied to land used for a crop not intended for human consumption. Incorporated into the soil no less than 120 days prior to the harvest of a product whose edible portion has direct contact with the soil surface or soil particles (such as lettuce). Incorporated into the...
Ruminant animals are required to graze pasture anytime during the year that pasture is available for grazing. If pasture is not available for at least 120 days per year, the ruminants cannot be certified organic. Organic standards also require that animals obtain a certain percentage of their daily diet, or ration, from pasture. Grazing must provide at least 30% of an organic ruminant’s total dry...
The NOP regulations do not have specific prescriptive requirements regarding distance for buffering your organic crop from potential contaminants. Prior to implementation of the NOP, 25 feet was used as a baseline for appropriate buffers. CCOF still uses this as a threshold of concern to guide our decision making process along with other mitigating factors such as physical barriers and...
Dry matter is what remains after all of the water is evaporated out of a feed: grain and fresh or dried forages. Fresh pasture has high water content and will have a lower percentage of dry matter than an equivalent weight of dryer feed, such as hay or grain. Dry matter is an indicator of the amount of nutrients that are available to the animal in a particular feed.Livestock need to consume a...
Transitioned animals are dairy animals that were “transitioned” to organic status through one year of organic management. This method of transitioning animals is only allowed for new dairy operations, and is a one-time allowance. Animals that were transitioned to organic may never be sold as organic slaughter stock, nor used as replacement animals by existing organic operations. Animals that are...
Organic operations must keep records of all activities and transactions. Such records may include: Input Records: Planting of seeds and applications of fertilizers or other materials must be documented. Animal Origin or Birth Records: Birth records must link organic calves to breeder stock and include birth dates or approximate birth dates. Medical Treatment Records: Treatments must be recorded...
The National Organic Standards delineate the requirements for certifying livestock, beginning at section 205.236. CCOF also provides links to a variety of information sources on our certification Support Resources page.