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THE MOO NEWS

Newsletter of Penn Dutch Cow Care March 2010

Hi Folks,

The long awaited new Pasture Rule has been released! Five years after the NOSB recommended the 30% dry matter intake for at least 120 days and 4 years after the USDA pasture symposium at Penn State, we now know what will be required for ruminants on organic farms. The government apparatus does work, but painfully slowly and deliberately, to ensure that the correct process is being carried out in terms of public input and layers of internal government review (bureaucracy). But in the end, the process did work – and to the joy of the vast part of the organic community. While organic processors will no doubt have meetings regarding the new rule, let’s look at some of its details more closely here. The following is the new wording but removed from the official format for easier reading. I underlined some words for emphasis.

The producer of an organic operation must not prevent, withhold, restrain, or otherwise restrict ruminant animals from actively obtaining feed grazed from pasture during the grazing season, except for conditions as described (shown further down).

During the grazing season, producers shall provide not more than an average of 70 percent of a ruminant’s dry matter demand from dry matter fed (dry matter fed does not include dry matter grazed from residual forage or vegetation rooted in pasture). This shall be calculated as an average over the entire grazing season for each type and class of animal. Ruminant animals must be grazed throughout the entire grazing season for the geographical region, which shall be not less than 120 days per calendar year. Due to weather, season, and/or climate, the grazing season may or may not be continuous.

During the grazing season, producers shall provide pasture of a sufficient quality and quantity to graze throughout the grazing season and to provide all ruminants under the organic system plan with an average of not less than 30 percent of their dry matter intake from grazing throughout the grazing season, except that ruminant animals denied pasture in accordance with exemptions (shown further down) shall be provided with an average of not less than 30 percent of their dry matter intake from grazing throughout the periods that they are on pasture during the grazing season; breeding bulls shall be exempt from the 30 percent dry matter intake from grazing requirement of this section and management on pasture requirement provided that any animal maintained under this exemption shall not be sold, labeled, used, or represented as organic slaughter stock.

Ruminant livestock producers shall describe the total feed ration for each type and class of animal. The description must include: (i) all feed produced on-farm; (ii) all feed purchased from off-farm sources;(iii) the percentage of each feed type, including pasture, in the total ration; and (iv) a list of all feed supplements and additives.

Ruminant livestock producers shall document the amount of each type of feed actually fed to each type and class of animal; document changes that are made to all rations throughout the year in response to seasonal grazing changes; provide the method for calculating dry matter demand and dry matter intake.

The producer of an organic livestock operation may provide temporary confinement
or shelter for an animal because of
the animal’s stage of life, except that lactation is not a stage of life that would exempt ruminants from any of the mandates set forth in this regulation; preventive healthcare procedures or for the treatment of illness or injury (neither the various life stages nor lactation is an illness or injury); sorting or shipping animals and livestock sales provided that the animals shall be maintained under continuous organic management, including organic feed, throughout the extent of their allowed confinement; breeding except that bred animals shall not be denied access to the outdoors and, once bred, ruminants shall not be denied access to pasture during the grazing season; or 4-H, Future Farmers of America and other youth projects, for no more than one week prior to a fair or other demonstration, through the event and up to 24 hours after the animals have arrived home at the conclusion of the event. These animals must have been maintained under continuous organic management, including organic feed, during the extent of their allowed confinement for the event.

The producer of an organic livestock operation must, for all ruminant livestock on the operation, demonstrate through auditable records in the organic system plan, a functioning management plan for pasture. Producers must provide pasture and manage pasture to comply with the requirements to annually provide a minimum of 30 percent of a ruminant’s dry matter intake (DMI), on average, over the course of the grazing season(s); to minimize the occurrence and spread of diseases and parasites; and to refrain from putting soil or water quality at risk.

The producer of an organic livestock operation may, in addition to the times permitted (above), temporarily deny a ruminant animal pasture or outdoor access under the following conditions: One week at the end of a lactation for dry off (for denial of access to pasture only), three weeks prior to parturition (birthing), parturition, and up to one week after parturition; in the case of newborn dairy cattle for up to 6 months, after which they must be on pasture during the grazing season and may no longer be individually housed provided that an animal shall not be confined or tethered in a way that prevents the animal from lying down, standing up, fully extending its limbs, and moving about freely; in the case of fiber bearing animals, for short periods for shearing; and in the case of dairy animals, for short periods daily for milking. Milking must be scheduled in a manner to ensure sufficient grazing time to provide each animal with an average of at least 30 percent DMI from grazing throughout the grazing season. Milking frequencies or duration practices cannot be used to deny dairy animals pasture.

A pasture plan must be included in the producer’s organic system plan, and be
updated annually. The pasture plan shall include a description of the (1)
Types of pasture provided to ensure that the feed requirements are being met; (2) Cultural and management practices to be used to ensure pasture of a sufficient quality and quantity is available to graze throughout the grazing season and to provide all ruminants under the organic system plan, except exempted classes identified (above), with an average of not less than 30 percent of their dry matter intake from grazing throughout the grazing season; (3) Grazing season for the livestock operation’s regional location; (4) Location and size of pastures, including maps giving each pasture its own identification; (5) The types of grazing methods to be used in the pasture system; (6) Location and types of fences, except for temporary fences, and the location and source of shade and the location and source of water; (7) Soil fertility and seeding systems; (8) Erosion control and protection of natural wetlands and riparian areas practices.

This rule will become effective 120 days after publication, on or about June 16, 2010. The implementation period for the rule is 1 year from the effective date, on or about June 16, 2011.  Obviously, significant nutrition from pasture is now required. If you’d like help figuring out your cows’ nutritional intakes during the upcoming pasture season, I’d be happy to help you. Once this snowy winter leaves…… Happy Grazing!

 

For Bovinity Health, information on functional alternatives to antibiotics see:
www.bovinityhealth.com

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