Jim Riddle, University of Minnesota
Organic livestock producers must establish and maintain year-round livestock living conditions which accommodate the health and natural behavior of animals, including:
Yards, feeding pads, and feedlots may be used to provide ruminants with access to the outdoors during the non-grazing season and for supplemental feeding during the grazing season. Yards, feeding pads, and feedlots must be large enough to allow all ruminant animals to feed simultaneously without crowding and without competition for food. Continuous total indoor confinement of all species and continuous total confinement of ruminants in yards, feeding pads, and feedlots are prohibited.
Yards, feeding pads, and feedlots must be well-drained, kept in good condition, including frequent removal of wastes, and managed to prevent runoff of wastes and contaminated waters to adjoining or nearby surface waters and across property boundaries.
Organic livestock producers may provide temporary confinement or shelter of an animal because of:
In addition to the conditions listed above, producers of organic ruminants may temproarily deny an animal access to pasture or the outdoors for the following:
Organic ruminant slaughter animals may be grain-finished or grass-finished. Either way, they must be maintained on pasture during the finishing period, but grain-finished animals are exempt from the 30 percent DMI requirements from grazing during finishing. The finishing period must not exceed one-fifth (1/5) of the animal's total life or 120 days, whichever is shorter.
Sections 205.203 and 205.240 of the National Organic Program (NOP) final rule (United States Department of Agriculture [USDA] 2000) require that organic producers must take steps to prevent the contamination of water and minimize soil erosion. Organic livestock producers must make sure that their animals do not cause stream bank erosion, damage natural wetlands or riparian areas, or contaminate water resources.
Organic livestock producers must not use lumber treated with arsenate or other prohibited materials for new installations or replacement purposes in contact with soil or livestock. The prohibition applies to lumber used in direct contact with organic crops and/or livestock, and does not include uses such as lumber used for fence posts or building materials, if the animals are isolated from the lumber by use of electric fences, or other methods approved by the certification agent. If the treated lumber was present prior to application for certification, it may remain, but no new installations are allowed where the animals may consume forage immediately around the posts, or may rub up against the wood, such as in corrals or buildings. Rot-resistant, untreated woods, such as cedar, white oak, or black locust, and metal or concrete posts may be used. Certifiers are not typically concerned about paint, sealers, or whitewash used in barns or other housing facilities.
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.