Organic dairy farms
Certified organic dairy farms adhere to strict regulations which define how animal health and welfare and environmental sustainability are managed. The use of synthetic chemicals, fertilisers and GMOs are not allowed, instead they use natural composts, manures and other preparations to improve the soil’s capacity to grow pasture (which in turn feeds the cows). Organic standards also prohibit cows being confined to a feedlot – they must have continuous access to pasture. Cows on certified organic dairy farms can only be fed certified organic feed. Organic dairy farming in Australia only accounts for a small percentage of total dairy sales:


Biodynamic dairy farms
Biodynamic farming is a specific type of organic farming that holistically views the farm (soil, plants and animals) as a self-sustaining system. Like in organics, biodynamic farming uses manures and composts but also uses very specific herbal and mineral preparations in order to improve soil and plant structure and health.  Any supplementary feed given to cows in this system must be certified biodynamic. Demeter is the biodynamic certification label used in Australia.

What’s the difference between conventional and organic/biodynamic dairy farming?

 

Conventional

Certified Organic/Biodynamic

Confined to sheds

Allowed

No

Access to pasture

Yes, but not compulsory

Yes, at all times

Use of antibiotics

Yes

No. Emphasis is on preventing illness. When sick, cows are treated with natural medicines.

Use of growth hormones

No, banned in Australia

No

Use of synthetic chemicals and fertilisers on pasture

Yes

No

Supplementary feed has to be certified organic/biodynamic

No

Yes

Use of genetically modified products in feed

Allowed, strictly regulated

No

Bobby calf removed from mother

Yes, within 12 hours of birth

Yes, within 12 hours of birth

Bobby calves transported for sale

No less than 5 days after birth

No less than 5 days after birth

Maximum period of time between a bobby calf’s last feed and its slaughter

Up to 30 hours

Up to 30 hours

Pregnancy schedule

Annually

Annually

Productive life expectancy
(no. of years a cow is productive on the farm, which is a good measure of its stress levels)

3 seasons, on average

5 seasons, on average

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