Confused about organic cattle

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by vegascowgirl, Mar 16, 2005.

  1. vegascowgirl

    vegascowgirl Try Me

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    I've been around cattle a good part of my life, and have seen many of the diseases that they come down with if they are not given regular meds and anti biotics. Yet, I hear so many people now a days talk about organic cattle (without anti-biotics and such). I just wonder how organic beef and dairy can be safe for human consumption?
    Please understand, I'm trying to learn more, not trying to knock anyones ideas or beliefs.
     
  2. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    I raise a lot of cattle and don't use many meds or antibiotics. I will treat an animal that is sick, but it just doesn't happen that often.

    There is no need to feed antibiotics to a healthy animal. Meat or milk from a healthy animal is going to be healthy. How could it be dangerous for people? I don't understand that at all.

    Vaccinations are also important ways to prevent disease and they can be used by organic people...I am pretty sure. I'm not organic so I don't know for a fact.

    Jena
     

  3. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    "Vaccinations are also important ways to prevent disease and they can be used by organic people...I am pretty sure. I'm not organic so I don't know for a fact."


    Jena is right, you can use ANY vaccination for organic cows, whether it is beef or dairy. You can treat an animal if sick, and to be humane. However, it can't be considered organic ever, rest of its life. I scratch my head at that one, considering even with traditional dairy farms, you can't put the milk in the tank if treated. But rules are rules. But as with Jena, our beef cattle aren't organic, they rarely have problems. Usually 1 has something wrong, last year no problems at all. This year, one of them hurt her hoof. Vet gave her a shot to be sure, she is fine.


    I would be more worried about non-organic store bought beef, because you never know if it grew up on hormones or not. I do eat store bought beef, can't enjoy life by worrying every day what you eat! If it tastes good, go for it. But organic beef is safe, its beef that is raised on feed that hasn't been sprayed, or fertilized by synthetic fertilizers. It hasn't been pumped with hormones (BST, etc). So ya gotta ask yourself, what might be safe?


    Jeff


    P.S. Im not saying sprayed corn fields to prevent weeds makes a huge difference, in fact by the time you harvest the corn, its been LONG gone.
     
  4. Valmai

    Valmai Well-Known Member

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    I dont know that much about beef or dairy farming in the USA. I get the impression you think cattle treated with meds or antibiotics are safer/healthier to eat, is that so? I cant think of any medicine, drench or antibiotic (over here) which does NOT have a withholding period, which means it is not safe for human consumption untill the minimum withholding period has passed. That is conventional cattle management. A normal healthy person should not need regular medicine or antibiotics its the same with livestock. There is a huge problem worldwide with superbugs resistant to antibiotics. The reason for this IMO is partly the amount of antibiotic residue in the food (beef) we eat.
    Im not sure that you can use any and all vaccinations in an organic system.
     
  5. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Naxcel has no hold out time for milk or slaughter.

    How do I know? WE are pitching in the extra money so we can treat Mistie's leg and not have to find somewhere to pour another 70 pounds of milk a day for three days...that and Adeleine needs to be treated and so we went for the Naxcel.


    I take it you don't like Posilac, Jeff? lol

    We use Posilac. Have for years now. Haven't seen any of the supposed side affects we were supposed to see according to the nay-sayers. Drink raw milk straight from our tank. Ah well.


    The fact that a cow whose life is saved through the use of antibiotics can never be used in the milking herd again is the reason I would never go organic. When I get sick enough I am going to use antibiotics.....and I wouldn't want my future in jeopardy because I felt my life was important enough.

    We don't use very many antibiotics, etc. There are coccidialstats in our heifer feed and we do use Posilac. However, dry treatement isn't used very often and treating mastitis with anitbiotics is a last resort nowadays. When the state inspector wanted to see our antibiotics, we opened the door to discover we didn't have any left. :haha:
     
  6. vegascowgirl

    vegascowgirl Try Me

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    Thanks to all who have answered. Yesterday my mind wasn't working in cooperation with my fingers, and I couldn't think of the word "vaccination" (hence I used the word "meds".). I wasn't sure if Organic ranchers still vaccinated or not. My dad (who's 70 now) won't even drink milk, because when he was a boy his family had a dairy farm and they lost a whole herd to H&M. And now with so many other diseases the thought of organic cattle just didn't appeal to me. Just out of curiosity, do ranchers feed organic feed as well?
     
  7. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    Not big on hormones, and not one farm i've talk to around here nods in favor of BST. This is anywhere from a 750 cow dairy, to a 60 cow dairy. The 750 cow dairy does not use hormones, they feed a TMR. They are #1 in the state for milk production (DHIA). I see their numbers in the country folk dairy section. Funny part about the places that push their animals, they need more replacements than they can buy. But even with milk production, what mattters more? More profit per cow? or high milk production?



    Jeff
     
  8. milkstoolcowboy

    milkstoolcowboy Farmer

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    I would agree with Jeff here. Tried BST, and was not a fan. Had problems getting cows to breed back and the incremental increase in production wasn't worth it to me. I think it does shorten the cows' productive life, if for no other reason than a cow that you can't get bred back is tough to keep around long-term.

    The numbers I saw are a couple years old, but that a survey found that 22% of cows were receiving BST, and that was 15% of herds surveyed. It's much more common in large herds, especially out West.

    Noone can claim that milk is hormone free, because these hormones are naturally occurring in cattle. What you can say is that your cows were not treated with BST.

    As for beef cattle, lots of feedlot beef receives an ionophore such as Rumensin or Bovatec due reduce acidosis, coccidiosis and also improves energy metabolism so you'll get higher daily gains. There is no withdrawal period. I use growth implants on bulls/steer calves and heifers I am planning to feed out, but not on replacement heifers. There is no withdrawal on this either. I have never heard anyone giving beef cattle BST.

    Jeff has outlined the regs for certified organic, and it includes, eventually, feeding organic-grown feedstuffs exclusively. Frankly, I don't understand why synthetic fertilizers are disallowed (N-P-K are naturally occurring elements), but I don't make the rules.

    I think the frustrating thing is that there are many non-certified producers making representations about grass-fed beef, organic beef, humane, etc. and these are not always verifiable. Any calf born on pasture was grass-fed at one point. If you just sell a couple quarters of beef a year, you could claim it was whatever you want. To me, this is troubling. I think there are valid concerns about antibiotic residues, but there are also downstream concerns about how beef is handled at slaughter and what preservatives/additives/dyes are pumped into it during processing and packaging. Many retailers are allowed to sell cuts of beef with as much as 30% water (I think, perhaps the number is lower), so Wal-Mart and others pump water into retail cuts to get the weight up.

    Whatever your position on organic is, I think there is some advantage to eating farm-fresh beef, especially if you know the operation from whence the beef came. Probably all of us would agree that our own farm-raised beef is tastier than a retail cut we might have tasted.
     
  9. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    heh, we are a 20 cow dairy and the last couple of years our cows were all older (hence the higher SCC). We had two years in a row where we had two heifers join the milking herd that entire time. We are just now getting a large group of first freshening heifers.....been waiting for it for three years now...just trying to keep the farm afloat til they came in, which was done using Posilac.
    So our number milking is rising considerably.
    We don't buy replacements, we raise them...we generally have five to six heifers born a year (except when we have a bull run with them, El Tigre gave us 12 daughters in five months).


    The Posilac allowed us to maintain production and support cows that would normally have been culled due to not being able to pull their own weight. With the Posilac helping them maintain a better average and the better cows maintain their averages we could afford to keep the other cows around. Atilla (two quartered) produced 40 pounds a day (low for our average) but since Hoolie gave 80 pounds a day everyday for her entire 305...actually she did that up until three days before her dry date, she was able to support two cows beside herself.

    The other farm I work at milks at least 40 cows and their produtcion is barely twice what we get out of 1/3 the number of cows in our barn.

    More profit per cow, of course. You can't run a farm if you don't make any money back. With the Posilac it gives them just enough boost to maintain a higher average (it is administered after they hit their peak and drop), but isn't given to cows that won't produce enough to make back the money plus.
    Of the 19 milking, dad only dosed 12 this last time. Four of them are too recently fresh and the others just can't pay for it, or we don't want milk out of them. One is our 11 year old. It defintely would help her put some weight back on (another benefit we have found. It has helped them put on weight after they battled an infection) but since her milk doesn't go in the tank, she can't pay for the dose herself.
     
  10. milkstoolcowboy

    milkstoolcowboy Farmer

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    Roseanna,
    I'm not criticizing you for using it. I know some had better luck with it. If it weren't for me selling registered cattle, I might have been willing to accept greater turnover, but I don't want to have a EX-93-3E cow with 41,000 lbs. of milk in a 305 to be still open after 600-700 day into lactation.
    Everyone's economics are different, that's for sure.
     
  11. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We wouldn't either.
    We simply have not seen that in our cattle. The cows that stay open longer have always had longer lactations (before we started using Posilac). The cows that settle first service, continually do so, year after year. It is more our genetics here than the Posilac. We do not cull heavily, because with only four or five heifers a year...can't really afford to. No cows to milk, means no milk, means no money to raise the replacements.

    And actually, when run with a bull they settle very quickly. We AI for the most part and actually it is a local farmer that does our AIing. Since we don't feel right callling him out at 11PM when we would breed the cow, we wait...or just skip that cycle and wait for the next. So a cow may only be AIed once or twice before she settles, but it could be more than the three to four months into her lactation that she is actually bred.

    We don't sell heifers, again because we need them. Though dad just about sold 15 head of our dairy cattle....which was comprised mostly of these fantastic Jersey/Norwegian Red crosses (averaging 50 pounds of milk before Posilac with a higher Protein than our Jerseys, but lower Fat :no: ).

    I am in no way claiming Posilac as gift from heaven...just pointing out that in our case it hasn't had ill effects on our animals or ourselves and has actually been a good investment. We weren't affected by the supply drop because we have always had more on order than we would ever get through (esepcially since they get the shots late every time).
    It certainly is not something that works in every situation, but it is such a rare occurance for anything to work for everyone anyways.
     
  12. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    I buy beef from a lady that raises cattle on pasture (no pesticides used in the pastures) and uses no antibiotics or hormones. So in short she has Organic raised Cattle.
    Why do I buy beef like that, for me it is a health reasons and genetics. Any animal that has been fed antibiotics, I get sick. Even trace amounts in the meat make me sick.
    Had a Doc test a piece of meat way back when, sure enough it was in the steak. :rolleyes:
    So I am willing to pay a higher price for meat that I know is Organic raised.
     
  13. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    The organic regs are backwards, as milkstool mentions that NPK is a natural occuring thing. However the real funny part of it is the fact you can't go out and buy a 3 month old calf from a non-organic dairy. Now ask yourself how in heck is that calf (18 months later a cow) going to make the milk non organic? That calf will be growing on your feed, if its certified, its organic feed for 18 months. There are rules with everything, however some of these organic rules are just the opposite of the whole idea. For instance, that antibiotic, cow has to leave the farm. In my opinion, it is for setting the whole idea of treating cows for production only aside. If your selling your pet, and most small dairys, they are "pets". Thats just as bad as what they forbid against. I do know it is a growing market, and keeps growing like crazy. I know there are farms doing really well with it. But one question you have to ask yourself, how many out there actually play by the rules? What I am saying, how many get a sick cow, treat it and shove it aside and act as if its fine? I was talking with a guy that works for Horizon Dairy. He was telling me of an organic farm that had a sick cow. They treated it, then I guess they stuck it back with the herd. That right there, killed the certification. So if that farm tried it, how many do it?


    I stand corrected with the beef, it is some sort of capsule placed behind the ear? I think thats where it goes, not sure.

    Either way, from what I have observed with our animals, if they don't like a certain feed they won't chunk it down. Each day, every single one of these guys look for the haylage. They yell for it, hay not so. But they want it, stuff smells as if it was chopped a day ago (very sweet smell to it). The Jerseys, they plow it down. In fact, they eat it as if its grain. This was before we added corn meal, so now they wolf it down. The brown swiss ate mostly hay, she is eating more and more of it. The whole idea with the prosilac is to get them to eat more. Atleast thats what it says on the site (monsanto's). However, I do beleive there are ways to get them to eat more, put up good feed. Our bunks are empty, the 14 holsteins in the barn yard clean it, and I fill theirs twice. I can't give them more, or they would avoid the hay. But when the first bit of stuff came out of that silo, it wasn't sweet. Herefords didn't eat all of it, untill I got down a foot or so. But ever since I got into the orchard grass chop (that was chopped May 17thish, and the 31st). It isn't as moist, but its very sweet smelling, ever chop any, leave it in a wagon for one day? It gets this sweet smell to it, well thats what it smells like. As I said above, smells like it was chopped a day ago. I was looking at some growth charts, and compared it to the Jerseys, and three of the holsteins. Im not sure if its just them or the feed, but the two Jerseys are average, two are above average. All 4 are above average height. The 2 holsteins are 12 and 13 months, both are the size of 16-18 month olds. The other one (milkstool seems to like this heifer) turks, she is 48" at the withers, and 560lbs. She is above average as well. I like to see that, as it tells me, they are getting enough feed. But boy I was a skeptic with haylage, and that stuff is gold to them.

    Several things seem to be very important with milk production, feed quality and water quality. Along with their ability to produce. One of ours is going to be interesting, she eats/lays down/eats/lays down, we shall see.


    Jeff
     
  14. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I can understand the not being allowed to buy a three month old heifer calf. Our heifers are raised on Primer 1 (which is not organic). It is offered within days after birth. Has a coccidialstat in it. You buy a healthy three month old heifer from us, then she has been exposed...hell, if you aren't even allowed to save a cow's life through the use of antibiotics, it isn't suprising preventatives are out of the question. :rolleyes: Like I said, the biggest reason I couldn't ever go organic. That cow was born here and she better well die here if we can afford it. To save her life only to be forced to sell her is undoable. She may end up at another dairy, but she won't have the same life she received here. Our cows are like family members...and just like when a family member gets old enough, they are expected to pull their own weight.

    Yeah, you see the thing about the feed available (especially hay) here in SE Ohio the past three years when our herd was all older animals? We had a drought three years ago (we planted sourgham, which was a great move. Their production was wonderful on that and it grew best in the drought conditions) and the past two years rain, rain and more rain. There hasn't been a week where there were four straight days with no rain the past couple of haying seasons. And since your hay has been constantly rained on, there is no way for it to dry in those four days.....so you have crappy hay. You make up for it with feed. We actually buy our hay from another farmer. The equipment couldn't cut the hay down in the fields it was so overgrown. We simply grazed most of the 80 acres the last two years.
    Planting has been out of the question and a waste of time and resources. Simply gets washed away. Foothills, you see.

    The Posilac allowed us to stay afloat, simple as that. We are still here and lots of other places went under.
     
  15. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    Yeah, it has rained here a lot as well. Last year was extreme, however there was enough dry to chop in May, but June was the month to hay, then all he!! broke loose. It rained for 6 weeks straight, 13+ inches fell. Finally late August came, 2nd was ready in June, but didn't get harvested till fair week, which is Augst 21st or so. Now the feed quality was on par with typical late feed, higher fiber, lower TDN. Protein was about right. The NEL, NEM, and NEG were lower, but that was due to the late harvest. With the haylage, the TDN was higher, NEL, NEM, and NEG were higher, the protein was higher. The last time I tested was with stuff chopped early June. Gotta do another test soon with the stuff harvested late May, should be decent. But anyone in the Ohio Valley, and Northeast, along with the Great Lakes, received tooooo much rain. I remember looking at radar, and central Michigan was getting nailed with rain, some sort of convergance setup. Only hay that we had that was showered on, but I did it on purpose (knew of two weak disturbances) turned out well. Not dusty, was late but was able to get it. Protein wasn't all that bad, right in line with late grass/alfalfa mix.

    One thing I found very interesting, when we did a forage analysis on the late hay, it is 90-93% DM. Apparently with the grass being beyond mature, it had lost some moisture. But this year, being my 2nd year for chopping. I am going to target the hay totally different. Chop the orchard grass in its boot stage, chop the alfalfa in it's vegative to early bloom stage (higher protein, higher TDN, lower fiber). In the past I always went for volume, but this year nope. It will be to see how it makes out, because I need to know for 2006. Each year is different, but typically here, you can chop in mid-may, some fields you can't touch. But last year, chopped May 17th, dried in 9 hours or so (cut late afternoon, chopped the next afternoon). We shall see, I just hope its nothing like last year. I will take 2003, over a 2004 summer. Heck I would love 1999, was done with 1st June 14th.



    Jeff