Manure application in organic production

RDH rdhopkins at
Wed Jul 31 23:51:51 EDT 2002


Sorry for the convoluted responses.  I have not set up for proper list serve
responses, so I will wing it.

We culled our animals years ago for weak immunity to parasites.  We have
monitored the internal parasite load and found it of no consequence as long
as the rotations are managed according to the life cycles of the parasites.
External parasites here have no economic impacts.

We installed a live weight scale last year so we have been gathering
performance data.  Our gains are running 1.7 to 2.3 ppd on nursing calves.
Haven't calculated the averages.  Last year, weaning age animals averaged
1.7 on grass with no inputs.  As we don't care about gains or finish weight
is of little consequence to the economics of our operation.  We look at
slaughter percentages and maturity as performance criteria.  All I know is
it takes a lot of calf to make up for $1000 of Dectomax a year.  BTW, we
discourage the use of Ivermectin products due to the harmful effects it has
on soil inhabitants.

The manure argument is over the word "applied".  I read applied as the act
of intentionally spreading the manure.  The manure left by grazing ruminants
would be an integral part of the land, in my opinion.  I think this will be
a long battle.

The NOP's allow certification for animal feeds, forage or otherwise.  It
does not state how it is to be harvested.  So we could use non-organic cows
to graze organic forage.  We just can't use any of the prohibited substances
in the process.

I'm sure there will be some growing pains as the NOP's are further
implemented.  Some of the rules have been tested already such as the
availability of organic feed for poultry, but the USDA has stood firm.


Rick Hopkins
American Pasturage, Inc.
P.O. Box 190
Marionville, MO  65705
(417) 258-2394
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-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Williams [mailto:mrfarm at]
Sent: Wednesday, July 31, 2002 10:35 PM
To: Market Farming
Subject: [market-farming] RE: Manure application in organic production

Rick Hopkins wrote:
> We operate a managed grazing operation and have been free of chemicals and
> pharmaceuticals for almost five years on our ruminants (beef/sheep)
> Parasites can be controlled with grazing.  That isn't the issue
> for us.

What do you use for control of brown stomach worms and also external
parasites such as grubs? Do you time grazing to insure that these parasites
are not present in large numbers?

We primarily graze Jersey steers and start them from birth or near to birth.
The young stock would have significant worm loads unless you kept them on
concrete or at least in a confinement facility where feedstuffs were not
contaminated by feces.

Can you honestly say that you have compared gains between animals treated
and untreated for parasites? I am particularly concerned with the young
stock up to 12 months of age.

Do you believe that you are not taking a hit in gain? Or do you view it more
as a trade off? It is well known by graziers who  have run actual studies,
that there is a reduction of gain due to the parasite load, even in managed
grazing. I am thinking in particular about Dr. Larry Smith's experience with
his multiyear studies.

> What does concern me is that grazing crop residue is a common
> practice, but
> under the NOP's could not be used in a no-till system as the
> manure does not
> get incorporated into the soil in the fashion that the NOP's require.

Does the NOP consider manure dropped on location by the animal as manure?
This may sound odd to say, but our understanding here in Wisconsin is that
DNR rules tend to ignore manure pats. At least up to a certain point.  This
is different than the biohazards that apparently are being addressed in the
NOP, but do they definitely treat spread manure as the same as deposited by
the livestock?

> We plan on certifying our forage crops as organic.  We do not foresee a
> problem in achieving that, allowing us to either supply organic
> forage seed
> or hay.  As a marketing tactic we can then state that our livestock are
> raised on certified organic pastures even though we do not plan
> on going for
> an organic meat label at this point.  The costs for new labels and double
> certification would not be offset by our small scale operation.  We may
> reconsider in sometime in the future, though.

Is it possible to "only" certify one part of the farm operation? Such as
forage production? And not certify other operations on the same farm? I was
under the impression that it was an all or nothing situation. We would have
little trouble certifying our forage since we don't use any pesticides or
herbicides on the forage and no longer do row crops. This does not include
our small market garden which would not be remotely feasible to certify due
to the cost exceeding our net profit.


Rick Williams
Misty Ridge Farm
Dairy heifers and dairy beef graziers
Viroqua, WI

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