cows in field

Recent Odairy Discussion, April, 2016

There was a good discussion on the use of hydrated lime on organic farms. It is generally regarded as a prohibited substance; some certifiers will not allow its use for any purpose, but one producer pointed out that the NOP regulations specifically allow hydrated lime as an external pest control. It specifically disallows its use to “cauterize physical alterations or deodorize animal wastes”. Other uses are not discussed in the standards. One producer wanted to use hydrated lime in bedded pack pens at clean out to sanitize the pen before clean bedding and new animals were introduced. The farmer said his certifier would not allow it, and others on the list suggested that this was a misinterpretation of the rule. A consultant suggested that very clear and precise communication is needed with the certifier in these situations, especially where a substance may be allowed for one type of use, but prohibited in another. A crop farmer added that hydrated lime is very caustic and chemically reactive if applied to soil, certainly the reason why it is not allowed as a fertilizer. But he feels that it is an important product for barn sanitation, and after reacting with water and organic matter (from manure and wet surfaces), it goes through a chemical change bringing its pH to near neutral by the time it is spread onto the fields with the manure. If you have questions, talk with your certifier.

A producer asked the list what methods of control were used for coccidiosis in calves. One farmer suggested feeding Dr. Paul’s Calf Start, a milk additive which feeds the beneficial gut flora and flushes out toxins. He likes to feed a double dose 3 days prior to weaning to reduce “post weaning slump”. Another producer recommended Neematox from Agri-Dynamics; she said it worked great. Another farmer keeps calves on milk longer than the usual 2 months; he begins to reduce milk at 2 months, but keeps them on it at least once a day until 3 months to reduce the incidence of coccidiosis. Another farmer likes to keep his calves moving. “I don’t keep my calves in a single pen, but moving. Only time we have a problem is when we stop moving”.

Liz farms with her husband and son in Hammond, NY. You can reach Liz by phone or email: 315-324-6926,