Living condition records

The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) outlines requirements for outdoor access and grazing for ruminant and non-ruminant livestock. Records should verify the “Living Conditions” section of your Organic System Plan (OSP), which outlines your plans for housing, outdoor access, cleaning, and lengths of confinement for specific reasons.

What information do I need to keep for bedding records?

If you use roughages for bedding, you must document organic certificates and purchase receipts. If, however, you use forestry products such as wood shavings for bedding, they are not required to be organic.

What documentation is needed for avian housing?

You will need to demonstrate how your ventilation keeps ammonia levels below 25 parts per million, and your extra monitoring practices whenever levels exceed 10 parts per million. Documentation of ammonia levels testing should correspond with the monitoring type — e.g., test strips, electronic meters — and frequency as indicated in your OSP.

If using artificial light, you’re required to document the amount of time and type of artificial light used in your OSP (OTCO allows a maximum of 16 hours of continuous daylight). For example, if there are six hours of daylight in winter months and you use artificial light to prolong daylight to 10 total hours, you will need records demonstrating the light’s total time of active and dimming ability.

What information do I need to keep for grazing and pasture access?

A livestock grazing record — a calendar system, notebook, or spreadsheet — easily audited by an inspector, must show ruminants daily grazing throughout the grazing season(s), for a minimum of 30 percent of daily dry matter intake. The length of the grazing season will vary depending on region, but you must document at least 120 days on pasture. On your sheet, you’ll want to indicate the number of days in your grazing season, the days in which your livestock graze on pasture, as well as pasture rotation.

What information is needed to support temporary confinement?

Livestock may be eligible for temporary confinement under certain conditions, such as severe weather or safety issues. Documentation must provide the date, animal or herd identifier, and the reason for confinement.

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