Basics about livestock feed

The requirements and regulations for livestock feed are complicated.

What are the basics for creating a feed ration?

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 central to 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.

Use only allowed non-agricultural, non-synthetic ingredients
Provided that they are not prohibited on the National List, non-agricultural and non-synthetic ingredients are permitted for use in feed rations such as blue-green algae, fishmeal, and probiotics.

Any synthetic feed additives or supplements must be on the National List
All synthetic feed additives or supplements must be allowed for livestock feed per the National List. Be sure to submit any synthetic feed additives or supplements to OTCO for review and approval prior to use.

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. This includes carriers and binding agents like molasses, wheat middlings, and rice hulls.

Considerations for complete feed vs. creating a feed ration
Purchasing 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 all of them to OTCO for review and approval prior to use.


Watch this brief video by the Washington State Department of Agriculture for a detailed explanation of feed requirements for organic livestock.

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