We all have no doubt that eating organic food is a healthier and more sustainable option for us when we are choosing which food we want to eat. After all, organically produced food has been proven to benefit the consumer and the land it’s grown on. The same can be said for organic chicken feed, it has the same health benefits and long term advantages to the land and environment.
If you are looking to introduce your chickens to an organic lifestyle then you need to consider a few things:
- How is organic food produced?
- How do I know if a feed is organic?
- What chicken food is organic?
- What are the benefits?
- What are the costs?
- Are there any negatives?
- How do I worm if I want to feed organically?
- Are they grazing organically?
We will try and answer these questions for you and supply you with the facts so you can make a decision on whether feeding organically is best for you. Remember there is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing which food is best, as long as you do the best you can.
How is organic food produced?
Organic is much more than just the food! The term represents the whole manufacturing process from start to finish and has implications on much more than what food you buy.
To become an organic feed producer you have to adhere to very strict rules and follow a process that benefits the land in which it is grown. To be approved organic an association such as the Soil Association has to be convinced that you are following the organic ethos.
Organic food starts its life on the farm. For a farm to be organic it should be farmed in a sustainable and natural way. Using only natural fertilizers and biological pest control. Farming techniques such as crop rotation and companion planting are undertaken.
How do I know if the feed is Organic?
Look out for the logo. Just like the Red Lion Logo marks a sign of quality on eggs, the Soil Association Logo shows that the feed has been approved organic.
What chicken food is Organic?
Manufactures of chicken food will usually have a range of organic feed as well. These are often premium feeds and made using sourced organic ingredients. Brands such as Marriages and Allen & Page, who produce organic chicken feed as part of their range, are the most popular choices .
Which feeds the manufactures decide to produce using organic ingredients really depends on demand. As you would expect layers pellets are the most popular as this is the feed most chicken keepers will feed their chickens. Mixed corn is also in demand as it is the most widely fed treat for chickens. Baby chick crumbs is another organic product made popular by the need to feed chicks with a coccidiostat free product.
Below is a list of all the organic chicken feed that is available with us at Farm & Pet Place:
What are the benefits of organic chicken feed?
Organic chicken feed has two clear benefits. Benefits for the land and benefits for the consumer.
Benefits for the land include:
- Not introducing harmful toxins into the soil which may have unknown long term effect.
- Better managed more sustainable land to grow food on for future generations.
- No harm to wildlife that also depend on the farm land for food and shelter.
- No possibility of contaminating rivers, lakes and the sea with harmful toxins.
- Less energy is used to farm organically.
- No air pollution is caused by farming organically.
- No GM food is grown, reducing the risk of cross pollination and the end to natural growth.
Benefits to the chickens include:
- No GMO foods.
- Lower risk of bad health issues related to food.
- More nutritious food with higher levels of goodness.
- Less toxins in the food that can have a negative effect on health and egg laying.
- Being able to produce a natural healthy organic egg for the table.
What are the costs?
Organic food tends to cost more than non organic or GM food, this is because it is currently harder to ensure that none organic methods enter the process. As Organic farming methods grow the price of production will come down and so will the price of the feed. Non-organic chicken feed is so cheap due to its much easier efficient production process but this is where the sacrifices are made in quality and sustainability.
What are the negatives?
As mentioned above, the cost of organic is currently the biggest negative. The fact that there is currently not a full range of organic food available for chickens is also a downside as you would struggle to find treats and other feeds that are also organic. This would limit the food available to give to your chickens. If you feed your chickens scraps, then you need to make sure that you are also sourcing organic feed.
How do I worm my chickens organically?
Possibly the biggest problem for chicken keepers who feed their chickens organically. Chickens are likely to pick up worms during their lifetime, especially if they free range. Treating these worms organically can be very tricky and not guaranteed. As Flubenvet is not organic it can not be used as a treatment, as this is the only licensed product on the market for treating worms this is a problem. Verm-X can be used in the prevention of worms and even as a treatment. Over time the natural spices and minerals deter the worms from the digestive system and guts. Have a read of our blog post about how to worm organically for more help.
Are your chickens grazing organically?
Many chicken owners overlook the fact that when they decide to feed their chickens organically they also need to think about the land in which your chickens are free ranging. Chickens will pick up bugs and insects that potentially have been on land that is not organic. This is not really a huge problem and is very hard to control but it is something to think about.