Introduction to Organic Dairy Farming
Today, let us discuss Organic Dairy Farming Business Plan and its facts.
The organic movement is the concept mainly based on the fundamental principle of healthy soils which leads to healthy crops, healthy animals, healthy humans, and a healthy planet. Organic crop and livestock production mainly focus on building soil organic matter and biology to create a strong and dynamic environment for producing healthy food and feed.
Defining Organic Dairy or What is Organic Dairy Farming?
Organic Dairy farming is the method of raising animals on organic feed (i.e. Pastures cultivated without the use of fertilizers or pesticides), in grazing lands or farming lands, along with the restricted usage of antibiotics and hormones. Products we get from the Organic dairy farm are the organic dairy products. Organic dairy farming is method of production, which sets a goal-based regulation that allow farmers to manage their own situations individually, while maintaining organic integrity.
Organic farming systems rolled out of very high animal welfare standards. An organic standards include living conditions, food quality, transport and slaughter.
Organic Dairy Farming is a Complete Free-Range Farming:
The organic farming method is a unique farming system, where the organic cows spend much of their lives outdoors where they can graze naturally on a diet of grass and clover. On average, organic cows spend, 215 days per year the outdoors, which is more time outdoors grazing than the average amount of time spent outdoors compared to normal free-range cows.
In an Organic farming, keeping cows indoors all their lives are strictly avoided. They just go indoor only during the bad weather, all cows should be housed in well-bedded spacious yards.
Read: Dairy Farming FAQ.
What makes organic different?
In an organic dairy farming, we should completely strict to some rules like,
- Free range, cows must be at pasture whenever conditions allow, over 200 days on average.
- Fewer pesticides & no artificial fertilizers used for pasture.
- We should feed the cows with grass-rich, GM free diet (minimum 60% grass-based).
- Usage of antibiotics regularly is banned completely.
- The milk produced by the organic cows has higher levels of nutrients, e.g. Omega 3 fatty acids.
- Organic dairy farming has higher wildlife benefits.
In an Organic dairy cows are generally not forced for their milk producing limits in the same way other cows can be. Average yields in milk production by cows in organic farm are around 20% less than in intensive production.
Organic Dairy Farm Management:
Organic producers of livestock products must not control the disease treatment for representing the livestock product as organic. They should implement a proper herd health program that should include strategies for disease prevention, parasite control and disease treatment. Vaccination schedule for endemic diseases should be implemented without fail. Herbal, Naturopathic, Homeopathic treatments can use on organic animals.
Antibiotic usage should be restricted to 30 days or twice the labeled time off to drawl period. Usage of hormones is completely avoided. Implement good sanitation practices like Teat dips, milking sanitation chemicals regularly. The feeding and other equipment’s should be rinsed with clear (tested) water prior to milking.
In an organic dairy farm:
- The Cows and calves should be fed with 100% organic feed in double cleaned equipment’s.
- Organic crops, hay, and pasture are grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides should be in organic dairy farming.
- Using Non-natural feed additives and supplements like vitamins and minerals are benefited.
- We should strictly avoid Synthetic milk replacers. And the Calves should be fed on organic milk only.
- All animals should be allowed graze in outdoors based on weather conditions. Animals over six months of age allowed to graze during the growing season.
- There should be some restriction on the usage of antibiotics, we should use them only used when cows are ill. Treat them with only approved health care products can be used.
- Organic animals may not be fed other slaughter by-products, urea, or manure.
- We should take good care of animal welfare.
- Some traditional procedures like tail docking, are strictly prohibited. And other procedures like dehorning must be done so as to minimize the stress to the animal.
- An organic farmer should maintain the sufficient records to verify his or her compliance with the standards.
- Each farm is inspected and audited regularly.
Organic Dairy Production Requirements:
For an efficient organic farming requires a different production strategy that should include pasture, a high forage diet and a limited role for grains and others concentrates. All the feeds purchased should be certified organic. And for managing all the organic farm operations you require more labor and a certain level of commitment to the operation and to organic principles.
Pasture Importance in Organic Dairy Farming:
For an organic dairy operation, all cows should have daily free access to pasture, paddocks or runways. Throughout the growing season, cows are allowed to graze outdoors. At least 30% of their dry matter requirements should come from pasture. In case of raw or composted manure is applied to the pasture, the cows are not permitted to graze on the land until the manure breaks down biologically. Some producers compost, manure before field application to speed up this process.
Housing for Organic Dairy Management:
Housing management of the cows should reduce the minimal stress in a facility that meets their normal socialization, feeding and loving behaviors. The housing for the animals should very comfortably equipped stall with soft floors, enough space, adequate floor traction, proper ventilation and access to the outdoors. The house should be maintained very clean, dry and provide protection from the elements. The tie stall barns can be kept in houses, but the animals must go outdoors at least twice a week during the winter months.
Feed and Water Management in Organic Dairy Management:
The organic farm needs special requirements for feed and water. For their nutritional requirements and ruminant behavior, we should give them a balanced organic feed ration free of any antibiotics, hormones, chemically extracted or genetically engineered components, or substances that are synthetically preserved or colored. The feed should contain substances that are necessary and essential for maintaining the cows’ health, including large amounts of high-quality roughage. All the ingredients you use should be certified as organic and approved for use by a government certifying body.
Health Care in Organic Dairy Farming:
Organic cows need proper health care to maintain animal health and prevent disease. We should use hormone injections for reproductive difficulties, and cows with continued mastitis problems are culled from the organic herd.
We should use preventive health measures without fail, if the cows become sick or injured, and the chemical treatments are not permitted, subject to the standards and approval of a certifying body. Antibiotics and other chemical therapies can be used for treating sick cows, but the milk from the treated cows are not considered organic for 15 to 30 days.
Organic dairy animals that must be treated with products that are not approved for organic production must be removed from the organic herd.
Organic Milk Production Certification:
Before selling milk, you must obtain certification from a third-party certifier. The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) will perform the certification process. OFPA offers standardized the rules, Organic producers selling less than $5000 of products annually are exempted from certification. They should sell their products directly to consumers and follow the rules of the National Organic Program (NOP).
There are two features for organic milk production certification. One depends on the dairy herd and the other is based on feed production or acquisition.
Dairy cows should be reared organically one year prior to certification. You should maintain the records on the herd health, feed and living conditions.
Feed used in this transitional year can come from feed produced during the third year of the three year transitional period for feed production.
Crop and feed production require three year transition period prior to organic certification. During this period, you should not use synthetic fertilizer, herbicides, insecticides, sewage sludge, or genetically engineered seed and inoculants.
Fields used for hay production for several years are suitable for the three-year requirement quickly if no prohibited products (e.g. Herbicides, etc.) have been applied.
A dairy farm must follow an organic system plan. These are the steps in the process.
- Choose an accredited certification agency, and an organic farm and livestock plan application should be applied to the prospective organic dairy farm.
- The Organic Farm and Livestock Plan should include three-year histories of all fields and pastures. And, about the future soil and crop management strategies, including inputs, equipment and crop storage and harvest. And also list the Crop and livestock product marketing strategies.
- The agency reviews the documents for completeness and decides if the applicant can comply with the NOP.
- The certification agency assigns an organic inspector. Inspectors will verify information and assess compliance with the NOP. The inspector will conduct inspect the process.
- The authorized committee will review the reports. This committee determines from the materials presented and the organic inspector’s interview whether the applicant follows NOP.
- Once certification is obtained, you can proceed to the farm.
Production Costs for Organic Dairy Farming:
Feed costs are the major expense in organic dairy farming, Till the dairy farmers needed to grow their own energy and protein feed sources (e.g. Grain and protein supplements). The recent increase in organic mailbox milk prices, will make it a profitable option for some organic dairy producers. It will be more economically feasible in areas where these feeds are readily accessible and do not require significant transportation cost. Animal health care another aspect the influence the production cost in an organic dairy. Labor cost also plays key role in the expense chart.
Market Dynamics of Organic Dairy Farm Products:
Like all organic foods, the demand for organic milk related to the increasing consumer preference for natural and organically grown products. The demand for the organics is due to several factors such as the perception of anything organic as healthy and pure, increasing care for the environment and concern for farm animals. All these factors are crucial for an increased demand for organic milk products, is the popularity of labels such as ‘grass-fed’ and ‘pasture-raised’.
Price is the basic constraint in the organic milk market as organic milk is almost thrice as costly as regular milk. This major high difference limits the scope of the market only to urban and high-aware consumers.
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