The requirements and regulations for livestock feed are complex. We’ve summarized a few of the core things to keep in mind:
Each agricultural feed ingredient must be certified organic
Agricultural ingredients — grains (corn, oats, barley), bean and seed meals (soybean and flax meal), forages (hay, silage, pasture), and kelp — are a key part of livestock feed. If you grow feed ingredients on-site, they must be part of your Organic System Plan. All purchased feed ingredients must be sourced from a certified organic producer or processor with appropriate documentation. A feed audit, performed during an inspection, will verify that the amount of feed purchased or grown by the operation is sufficient to meet animals’s needs.
Non-agricultural, non-synthetic ingredients in feed rations
Provided they are not prohibited on the National List, these ingredients are permitted for use in feed rations (e.g., blue-green algae, diatomaceous earth, kaolin clay, fishmeal, probiotics).
Synthetic feed additives or supplements
Must be included on the National List for livestock feed.
Currently, the only allowed synthetic feed additives are DL-Methionine for use in poultry rations, and trace vitamins and minerals used for fortification or enrichment. Any agricultural ingredients mixed with synthetic feed supplements or additives must be certified organic (e.g., carriers and binding agents like molasses, wheat middlings, rice hulls, and vegetable oil).
Creating a feed ration
Purchase of certified organic “complete” feed provides assurance that all ingredients are allowed for use in organic livestock production. If you purchase individual feedstuffs, additives or supplements and mix them to make your own ration, be sure to submit to OTCO for review and approval prior to use.
Watch this brief video by the Washington State Department of Agriculture as their staff explain feed requirements for organic livestock.