organic dairies

September 26, 2011

Organic farming is a management system that requires the integration of cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster the recycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity (AMS–National Organic Program, 2002). Administration of antibiotics, hormones, growth-promoters and most synthetic medications are prohibited in animals producing organic food and fiber. However, these treatments cannot be withheld just to maintain the animal’s organic status. Animal welfare must come first.

The National Mastitis Council’s Ten Point Plan has been advocated for years to help producers achieve and maintain high milk quality. However, U.S. organic farming methods preclude the use of dry cow antibiotic treatment, as well as lactational antibiotic treatment under any circumstances. Therefore, intensely monitoring udder health for the early detection of new mastitis cases, as well as proactively adapting management strategies are essential for organic dairies.

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, research is being conducted to assess the impact of organic management on dairy animal health and well-being and develop recommendations for cost-effective, preventive health management programs. To learn more about this project click here.

resources

USDA National Organic Program

Oversees national organic standards and regulations, and provides policy guidance and general information throughout its website.

Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES)

MOSES is a 501(c)3 education-outreach organization working to promote sustainable and organic agriculture. MOSES serves farmers striving to produce high-quality, healthful food using organic and sustainable techniques.

Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA)

Newsletter and online resources for organic and transitioning dairy producers.

Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA)

NOFA offers outreach and technical services to organic farmers and to conventional farmers interested in incorporating organic practices into their production systems.

USDA ERS: Characteristics, Costs and Issues for Organic Dairy Farming

Economic Research Report No. (ERR-82) 50 pp, November 2009

videos

Animal Health Regulations for Organic Dairy Herds

Dr. Pamela Ruegg outlines key health regulations from the USDA National Organic Program and the FDA for organic producers.