Requirements for ruminant grazing

Livestock farmers are required to demonstrate a functioning pasture management plan for all certified organic ruminant livestock.

How much of the year do my livestock need to graze?

Ruminant livestock must obtain no less than 30 percent of their dry matter intake from grazing over the length of the grazing season. The grazing season will vary depending on your region but must be a minimum of 120 days.

How much of the year do my livestock need outdoor access?

Livestock must have outdoor access year-round in addition to grazing season pasture management plans.

What if I do not meet the minimum grazing requirement?

If the required 120 grazing days minimum is not met during the grazing season, OTCO will examine your Organic System Plan (OSP) for information and confirmation regarding your location, seasonality, climate, and intended grazing season length. Usually, the grazing season is much longer than the 120-day minimum, but the length varies based on region.

We hold you accountable to the details of your OSP’s grazing plan. Please note, the grazing season may or may not be continuous due to weather conditions or climate.

How do I do dry matter calculations?

You must find an approach to calculate animals’ dry matter demand and dry matter intake. We will review your methods to determine appropriateness and accuracy.

In most cases, farmers use the “subtraction method.” The dry matter of consumed feed is subtracted from your livestock’s total dry matter demand. Your calculation must demonstrate that the amounts of feed for animals during the grazing season must be 70 percent or less for compliance. You must meet the dry matter intake — often much higher than 30 percent — threshold as outlined in your OSP.

A weighted average over the grazing season may be used to calculate that dry matter intake from pasture meets your OSP. Such an approach helps account for end of season decline in pasture nutrition or stunted growth from excessive heat.

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