DEAR NEW FARM:
I have several questions. First I am confused about the mingling
of livestock. If I were to doctor a calf with an antibiotic,
say for pneumonia, do I have to remove that animal from the
organic herd, or can it stay in the herd? The only thing different
about it from the others is that it has been given an antibiotic.
Next, say I have a group of cattle that are not certified
organic, for example a set of calves that I purchase to finish
on grass. Do these cattle have to be kept separate from my
organic herd? The management practices will be no different
between my organic herd and my non-organic herd.
And my last question, for now. I know my beef-cow herd has
to be managed organically, starting the third trimester until
the calves are weaned from them. For me there is about a 10-to-12
week window after weaning and before the start of the third
trimester. Is it possible to feed non-organic feed, say hay
that has been purchased, to my cows in this timeframe? If
I do feed non-organic feed in this time frame, do I have to
take the pasture the cows were in at the time out of organic
We turned your question over to our friend Leslie Zuck, executive
director of Pennyslvania Certified Organic. Here’s what
Leslie had to say:
“In order to answer your questions accurately, I
would need to know if your cattle are for dairy or beef
production. For the time being, I will answer as though
they are for beef.
“The treated animal can continue to be housed with
organic animals, but it must be clearly marked and identified
in your records, with date and material it was treated with.
The treated animal cannot be sold or represented as organic
because organic animals must be continuously managed organically
their entire lives (and before birth during the last trimester
“As for separating your organic and non-organic animals,
the same answer holds. It is very important that the non-organic
animals can be clearly distinguished from the organic animals,
so there is no mistake.
”Organic animals cannot be brought in and out of
organic management. Therefore, you would not be allowed
to give non-organic feed to your organic brood cows during
the period you mentioned. A bull, however, does not have
to be managed organically, unless you plan to sell him as
an organic animal. If you do feed non-organic hay in a pasture,
the feeding area would have to be removed from organic production,
unless you could keep the hay from coming in contact with
the ground. For example, you could feed it in a dry lot
or concrete area that could be swept clean.
I hope this helps. As always, check with your certifier
before making any changes to your organic system plan. If
you are not certified yet, get in touch with a certifier
as soon as possible, as some certifiers may require additional
information or documentation in these particular circumstances.
If you have additional questions or would like a free information
packet on applying for organic certification, you can contact
our organic transition specialist, Patty Neiner, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pennsylvania Certified Organic
us with comments, suggestions and questions.