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Organic Certification

Pasture Rule

Pasture Rule Information and Resources for Livestock Producers

The National Organic Program (NOP) published the Pasture Rule on February 12, 2010. This rule was years in the making, with input from a large number of interested parties and over 26,000 comments submitted to NOP. The final version had the support of the three regional organic dairy producers associations and has seen an overall positive response from all sectors of the community, including producers, processors, watchdog groups, and consumers.


The pasture rule has been implemented with verification of full compliance required as of June 17, 2011.

Pasture Rule Compliance Tools and Resources

CCOF Feed Ration DMI Worksheet

Use the CCOF Feed Ration DMI Worksheet throughout the grazing season to document the Dry Matter Intake (DMI) in each ration fed to each class of animal. Complete a new worksheet anytime the ration for a class of animals changes.

Single Ration Dry Matter Intake Calculation Worksheet

CCOF DMI Grazing Season Average Worksheet

Use the CCOF DMI Grazing Season Average Worksheet at the end of the grazing season to average the DMI from each feed ration to find the overall average DMI from pasture for the entire grazing season for each class of animals.

Grazing Season Dry Matter Intake Summary Worksheet

CCOF Table of Common Feed Type Dry Matter %

Use the CCOF Table of Common Feed Type Dry Matter % document as a reference for average dry matter percentages for common feeds.

Feed Type Dry Matter % Table

ATTRA/NOP Resource Packet

The ATTRA Grazing Planning Manual and Workbook regarding grazing may be helpful, however not about the pasture rule specifically.

ATTRA Grazing Planning Manual

Pasture Rule Highlights

  • All ruminant animals must receive 30% of their Dry Matter Intake (DMI) from pasture during the grazing season, which must be no less than 120 days. This is calculated as an average for each production group over the grazing season. Operations must be able to demonstrate compliance with these requirements during inspections by CCOF, the National Organic Program, or state organic programs.
  • It is up to the producer to develop a plan for calculating DMI and DMD, and to submit these plans to CCOF for approval.
  • Operations must demonstrate their plan to manage pasture so it is of sufficient quality and quantity for animals to graze during the grazing season, and their plan to move animals through their pasture.
  • There are specific limitations on confinement of ruminant animals from pasture, including that lactation is not a reason for confinement.
  • Calves must be provided with access to pasture at six months of age or earlier.
  • Confinement from pasture is allowed only for one week for dry off, three weeks prior to parturition, and one week post-parturition.
  • Roughages used as bedding must be organic.
  • Slaughter stock are exempt from the DMI requirements during a finishing period but must be maintained on pasture during that time that their finishing period overlaps with the grazing season.