If you have some land, you may wonder how to raise organic beef, whether for your own family or for market.
Demand for Organic Beef Is Growing
Organic beef is one of the fastest growing areas of food production. As consumers become more educated on the health benefits of organic foods and the potential danger of conventionally raised foods, they are willing to pay a little extra to procure organic meat.
Restaurants, chefs, food writers and magazines have all increased the interest in organic beef because they encourage their readers and fans to use this product. Organic beef is safe, healthy, and flavorful.
How to Raise Organic Beef for Profit
If you are ready to raise organic beef, you will have to comply with the restrictions set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It is wise to contact them immediately to get their current guidelines for raising organic beef. Once you have complied with the various restrictions, you will want to contact the USDA office in your area to find an organic certifier. This inspector will come out and inspect your property, your cattle, and your feeding plan to make sure that it complies with the organic regulations.
If you don't pass, you can't sell your beef as organic. You can sell it as all natural, however.
- The mother must be fed organic grains, hay, and kept using the organic method for the last two to three months of her gestation. The resulting calf should be fed only organic products and kept on certified organic pasture.
- The cattle can never receive antibiotics. This means that any illnesses will need to be handled naturally or the calf must be removed from the organic program. Illness is often a result of poor living conditions, so keeping the environment clean is important.
- The beef cannot receive growth hormones of any type.
- The beef must be fed only organic grains, grasses, and pasture.
- The animals must have unrestricted access to organic pasture. They can't be kept in stalls or stanchions, nor can they be kept in a barn at all times. They must be able to freely roam and graze naturally. Certified organic grasses and pasturelands cannot have fertilizer or chemicals used on them. If the pasture has had chemicals on it in the past, it must be chemical free for a period of time before it can be certified.
- You will be getting regular visits from an inspector to ensure that you are complying with all of the restrictions and requirements.
- The beef must be processed by a certified organic processor. If the processor also processes conventional beef, it must be processed in a separate area used only for organics. There are restrictions about the kind of cleaners and other substances that are used around organic beef.
Once You Are Certified
Once you are certified as an organic beef producer, you will be allowed to sell your beef as certified organic. You will still have regular inspections and you can lose your organic certification if you are not in compliance.
Raising your cattle in a healthy, organic environment, treating them humanely, and allowing them to enjoy natural behaviors such as grazing are important ways of ensuring that you are producing a healthy, quality product. Learning how to raise organic beef is a very detailed process, but once you have become certified the rewards are many. It may be worth your time to look into organic farm internships. This allows you to work on an organic farm and learn the process before starting your own.