Are you looking for organic livestock for sale? If you are, you likely see that it isn't an easy task. Organic livestock producers are out there, but locating them can be difficult. If you do locate someone who claims to sell organic livestock, how can you be sure that what you are buying is truly organic? This article will explain how livestock becomes certified organic and how you can locate organic livestock for sale near you.
Finding Organic Foods
Grocery shelves are loaded with products claiming to be "all natural", "organic" and "chemical free". With a little research you can see that many of these claims are not completely true. To find real, organic products, you must look for the "USDA Organic" label on packages.
Livestock, however, is a bit trickier. You certainly can't read the label or look for a certification logo on a cow or a chicken! How do you know that the livestock you are looking at is really USDA accredited organic? Why does it matter if it is organic anyhow?
Why Organic Livestock?
Organic livestock is important because eating organic meat protects your family from some nasty things that you don't want them exposed to. Take, for example, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) also known as "mad cow" disease. This became a problem when cows, who are naturally vegetarians, were given brain and spinal tissue of other cows in their feed. This practice is no longer legal, but there are still other forms of animal by-products in the feed given to beef and dairy cattle.
Feeding an animal something that it is not designed to eat is like giving your children tree branches for breakfast--it is only asking for problems in their health and development. Other harmful things in non-organic livestock include chemicals and hormones intended to cause rapid growth and thus higher production in a shorter amount of time. Optimal health isn't really a consideration. Making money is. Do you want your family exposed to these things?
How Do You Know?
On the other hand, organic livestock is raised under strict standards. Livestock that is organic has to be certified as organic. There is a great deal of record keeping involved. This is your proof that a farm is truly USDA organic. So, what are these strict standards?
For an animal to be certified as organic, it's mother must be under organic management starting in the last third of her pregnancy. When the animal is born, it is fed organic, whole milk, not milk replacers containing blood products (BSE is transmitted through blood) and chemicals.
It is fed on pasture as nature intended, not man-made feeds filled with hormones and animal by-products. If feed is supplemented, it must have been organically produced and handled, with no plastic pellets added as "roughage". You can read all of the requirements in detail for certified organic livestock at the USDA website.
All of these requirements ensure the safety of organic livestock as a food source. Organic livestock is highly unlikely to transmit diseases, hormones and dangerous chemicals into the food chain. Therefore, your family is healthier because they are not exposed to these things.
Find Organic Livestock for Sale
You probably understand the benefits of organic foods and you may want to raise your own organic livestock. Or perhaps you are interested in raising organic livestock as a business. How do you find livestock that is organic?
One place to start is at a local sale barn. You can contact your county extension office and they will be able to help you find sale barns that sell organic livestock as well as local farms that may be willing to sell some animals.
If you attend an auction at a sale barn, it is a good idea to make several visits before you make your initial purchase. Sometimes it is difficult for a beginner to determine if livestock being sold is of the best quality. Often farmers will bring their lowest quality stock to the sale barn because, of course, the want the highest quality for breeding. Do your research and maybe even make friends with a few of the regulars there who can advise you on what to look for before making a purchase.
You can also search the Internet for organic livestock for sale. Some farms that sell organic meats will also sell live animals. It is best if you can inspect the animal yourself before committing to a purchase from a farm you find online. If possible, make arrangements to visit the farm before you make your final decision.
Here are a few places to begin your search for organic livestock. If these sources do not have what you are looking for, you may be able to be referred to another farmer who has what you need. Don't be afraid to ask.
- West Wind Farm is a certified organic farm that also sells livestock including:
In addition, you can purchase organic meat and poultry, vegetables and herbs, and organic dairy products.
- Online sale barns like Agriseek are a great place to search for organic livestock. Registration is free and enables you to use the search function on the site. This makes it easy for you to search for organic products, including livestock, all over the world.
- Local Harvest is another fantastic resource for finding organic products. Simply type "livestock" in the search box to find farms that have organic livestock. You can narrow it by location if you prefer, or you can leave the location box blank.
If your search is difficult at first, don't give up. As the number of organic livestock producers continues to grow, finding livestock will become easier. It is worth the search to help your family and others experience the benefits of organic products.