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Organic Farming - An Introductory Guide 

Full contents:

If you would like to save your own copy of Organic Farming - An Introductory Guide, which is reproduced on these pages, please download it here (PDF, 4.74MB). 

This guide is intended as a basic reference only and is not a comprehensive guide to all Organic requirements and systems. 

Organic Standards and Terms 

Organic Standards may vary between certification organisations but the main principles are: 

Organic Ruminants 

  • Cannot be fed any feed that is not organic.

  • Can be fed an annual % of in-conversion feed, under a national derogation, which is subject to annual review.

  • Must be fed a ration of which at least 60% daily DM intake is forage.

  • Must be fed a ration of which at least 60% annual DM intake is from the home or a linked unit. 

Organic Pigs and Poultry 

  • May be fed 10% non-organic feed under a derogation until Dec 2009 on an annual basis and upto 25% on a daily basis.

  • Do not need a forage percentage.

  • Will have to feed 50%DM from the home or a “linked” unit from1st Jan 2011. 

A summary of cattle feeding standards: 

Compliance required on a daily basis

Compliance required over a calendar year (January to January)

A minimum of 60% of the cattle’s DMI must consist of fresh fodder, roughage or silage.

A minimum of 60% of the cattle’s DMI must be obtained from the unit or linked units.

100% of feed must be organic  

If it is home produced up to 60% of feed can be in-conversion.


If any in-conversion feed is bought in, a maximum of 30% is allowed.



The change of a farm and farming system from conventional to organic is known as organic conversion. 

Organic Land 

  • Conversion to organic requires 2 years’ management to organic standards.

  • No chemical sprays.

  • Permitted fertilisers only.

  • Inspected and certificated by a registered body (e.g: Soil Ass or OF&G). 

Organic Crops 

  • Must be produced from organic seed where available.

  • Forage crops are deemed organic when harvested after the land has completed conversion. Grain crops are only deemed organic when sown after completion date.

  • Crops produced before completion are termed in-conversion.

    • In-conversion silage - cut during 2nd year of conversion.
    • In-conversion grain - harvested at least 1yr after start of conversion. 

Organic Stock 

  • An animal can only be born Organic not converted.

  • An animal can be converted to produce organic milk, eggs or offspring but not meat.

  • Conversion of an animal for organic conversion requires;

    • months of management to full organic standards.
    • at least 6 months of feeding to organic standards.
    • a derogation from the certification organisation. 

Although to comply with full organic standards, conversion of stock to organic can only start when conversion of the land is completed, derogations can be given to speed the process up. This is called a Fast track conversion or a Simultaneous conversion. The standards covering these systems are complex, expert advice should be taken and a conversion plan approved by the certification body.



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