Certified Organic Dairy Livestock Guidelines

Certified organic dairy livestock



Many folks are in the dark about what is actually takes for a farm to become certified organic and the benefits to the environment, individual health, animals and farm workers the organic classification holds. This kicks off Part 2 of our Certified Organic Farm Series, where we dive really deep into the nitty gritty of how the U.S. Department of Agriculture sets guidelines for certified organic dairy livestock. Below is an abridged list to see the guidelines in its entirety go here.




  1. Land used for pasturing and housing livestock and livestock feed and bedding crops must qualify for organic certification. Any field or farm parcel, from which harvested crops are intended to be sold as organic, must have had no prohibited substances applied to it for a period of three years immediately preceding the harvest of the crop.


  1. Farmers may either transition an existing non-organic herd to organic production or purchase an organic herd. The transition is a one-year process, during which the producer must manage the herd following the organic standards.


  1. All animals must receive 100% organic feed.
    1. All purchased grain and forages must be certified organic. You must keep receipts and accompanying certificates as documentation of off-farm feed purchases. The receipt must verify the quantity and source of feed purchased from off-farm.
    2. All feed supplements, including minerals and salt blocks must be approved by your certifier. Antibiotics, GMO derived products, animal by-products and synthetic preservatives are not permitted in any feed products.


  1. Animals must be kept in healthy, low stress environments. Producers must use preventative health care practices & may only use approved treatments.


  1. Livestock housing must provide for adequate ventilation, adequate supply of clean water and proper sanitation. Housing must provide access to the outdoors, shade, shelter, exercise areas, fresh air and direct sunlight year round. Living conditions must accommodate the health and natural behavior of animals. Continuous total confinement of any ruminant animal over 6 months of age indoors is prohibited.



  1. All ruminant livestock must be provided pasture throughout the entire grazing season for the geographical region, which shall be not less than 120 days per calendar year.


  1. Meat that is to be sold, labeled, or represented as organic must be from an animal that was under continuous organic management from at least the last third of gestation. A certified organic slaughter facility must be used for processing meat that is to be marketed as organic.



  1. Livestock products that are packaged and to be sold, labeled or represented as “100% organic” or “organic” must include the following on the information panel of your label.
    1. Handler information: name of handler and business address
    2. Followed by “Certified organic by ***”, identifying the name of the certifying agent responsible for certifying the handler of the finished product.


  1. Records must be kept on an ongoing basis, as organic certification is about verifying your farming practices to a third party. Records must be “readily auditable” (accessible, organized, complete) and must be maintained for five years.


  1. Operations that choose to produce organic and non-organic livestock products or to hire services from custom operators that may service non-organic and organic clients, must implement measures necessary to prevent the commingling of organic and non-organic livestock products. Additionally, they must protect the organic livestock and livestock products from contact with prohibited substances.


If reading this doesn’t give you a newfound respect for certified organic dairy farmers we’re not quite sure what will! Our hats go off to all the lady and gentlemen farmers out there doing all the hard farm work as it, but going the extra 10 miles to do the right thing for their land, animals, and customers and get that WELL DESERVED certified organic label. Nice job folks!

July 19, 2017 10:07 AM

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