Breeder Stock Regulations for Organic Dairy and Livestock in the United States

Organic Agriculture December 09, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

eOrganic author:

Jim Riddle, University of Minnesota

Livestock used as breeder stock may be moved from a non-organic operation onto an organic operation at any time. However, if the livestock are gestating and the offspring are to be raised as organic slaughter stock, the breeder stock must be brought onto the organic farm and managed organically no later than the last third of gestation. Bulls used for breeding purposes only do not need to be managed organically.

Unless breeder or dairy animals have been fed and managed organically their entire lives, beginning the last third of gestation prior to their birth, they cannot be sold as organic slaughter stock. They can produce organic offspring or organic milk, but they cannot be slaughtered for organic meat.

Organic dairy and slaughter stock lose their organic status if they are removed from the organic farm and managed on a non-organic operation. They cannot be rotated back into organic production. For example, a dairy calf born from an organic cow cannot be raised non-organically for one year and then transitioned to organic for the second year to produce organic milk the third year.

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This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.