Sep 15, 2014
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100% Grass-Fed

RSS By: Randy Kuhn, Beef Today

Our family farming history began with my great-great-... (nine generations ago) grandfather Johannes. He, his wife and three children left Saxony, Germany, on April 20, 1734, aboard the ship St. Andrew, mastered by Capt. John Stedman. They landed at Philadelphia on Sept. 22 and eventually settled our family’s first "New World" farm near Society Run in Frederick Township, Montgomery County, Pa., in 1743. Pig farming was our family’s specialty until the mid 1950s. A lot has changed since then. Our BQA cow–calf operation includes 100% grass-fed registered Red Angus, Hereford and purebred Beefalo; 30 to 35 pastured Duroc and Spot pigs; 100 Freedom Ranger broilers; and 90 Golden Comet and Buff Orpington layers. We organically maintain 80 acres, comprising 15 acres in rotational pastures, 15 acres in tillable cropland, and alfalfa/mixed grass hay on the balance. We have never used chemical pesticides or herbicides on our pastures or hay fields. We are not a "certified" organic farming operation, but we prefer the natural/organic approach to help promote sustainability.

Organic or Conventional?

Aug 26, 2011


What is meant by organic production?


Organic production is a system that is managed in accordance with the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and regulations in Title 7, Part 205, of the Code of Federal Regulations to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster the cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity.



How does organic livestock production differ from conventional livestock production?


The National Organic Program (NOP) regulations specify requirements for livestock products to be sold, labeled or represented as organic. Organic management of livestock includes: (1) requiring organically produced livestock feed and forage; (2) prohibiting the use of antibiotics and hormones; (3) maintaining specific living conditions including access to pasture for ruminants and access to the outside, direct sunlight, fresh air and freedom of movement for all livestock; and (4) practicing preventive health care to minimize the occurrence and spread of diseases and parasites. Furthermore, organic livestock producers must develop an organic system plan, maintain production records and undergo annual on-site inspections to verify compliance with the organic regulations.

All animal agriculture systems, whether organic or conventional, must consider the dry matter demand and nutritional requirements of the class of animal for a given stage of life. One key difference with organic animal agriculture systems is that all ruminant systems must be pasture-based (i.e., actively grazing on a daily basis during the grazing season and with access to the outdoors and not confined during the non-grazing season). Many conventional livestock systems are also pasture-based but are not required to be pasture-based.


What resources are available for producers who are seeking more information on access to pasture requirements?


The NOP conducted four training sessions in 2010 for certifiers and organic producers on components of the new Access to Pasture rule. The trainings occurred on Feb. 25, 2010, in LaCrosse, Wis.; on March 24, 2010, in Albany, N.Y.; on April 7, 2010, in Denver, Colo.; and on April 26, 2010, in Woodland, Calif. All of these presentations are available on the NOP website at

Information on calculating dry matter intake (DMI) and associated worksheets and tables are available in the NOP Program Handbook, available at the website. These resources include: (1) a step-by-step guide to help producers understand the dry matter intake calculation requirements; (2) a worksheet to help producers perform DMI calculations easily; (3) reference tables for determining the dry matter demand for different types and classes of beef and dairy animals; and (4) a pasture worksheet to help producers establish a rotational grazing system by calculating the pasture acreage, number of paddocks and size of each paddock that an operation will need in order to balance the forage demands of their animals with the production capacity of the pastures. The National Research Council has additional resources for nutrient requirements for small ruminants (see, for example,

The NOP worked with the National Center for Appropriate Technology to develop new templates for organic system plans (OSPs) and other resources targeted to both producers and certifiers that will incorporate the new pasture requirements. These materials have been available since early 2011.



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