Organic medical guidelines
In general, medical treatment guidelines on an organic dairy are as follows: Vaccinations are allowed as long as they are not derived from genetically modified organisms, but antibiotics and hormones are not allowed. The rules for raising organic dairy cows are extremely detailed and we have listed the practices we apply at our dairy below.
On a certified organic dairy, cows are never given antibiotics.
At the Straus dairy, we never use any type of hormones for our cows. The use of hormones is illegal on certified organic dairies. Instead, organic dairies rely mainly on the cow's natural cycles to stimulate their biological functions.
We maintain a "closed herd" on our dairy. It means that we never bring in any outside animals to our farm. By restricting animals from the outside from coming in, we avoid the potential of infection from diseases such as Hoof & Mouth disease or other viruses.
Maintaining a closed herd is not a common practice on all dairies (organic or conventional), but one that we feel is important in order to keep our cows healthy and safe.
Minimize stress on our cows
To minimize stress on our cows, they are provided with clean bedding made from organic rice hulls, added regularly to individual bedded stalls in an open barn. Plenty of room to move is essential. Our cows graze from spring through fall out on pasture, whenever weather permits. Another great advantage for our cows is the mild, coastal climate on the Northern California coast and the frequent morning fog, which makes for a cooler climate, which is comfortable for cows.
Our calves spend their first few weeks in a communal space in an open barn, where they are able to feed on warm, pasteurized, organic milk at any time of day. After weaning and two months more of growing, young heifers graze on pasture in the fields. Milking cows graze during the spring, summer and fall in fields on a rotational basis, and spend as much time outside as weather permits.