Raising organic meat chickens is a great way for the backyard homesteader to have access to wholesome, healthy, and nutritious foods all year round. However, raising organic chickens isn’t as simple as just buying them from the store or getting them from the farm.
This guide was created to walk you through everything that you need to know in order to start raising organic meat chickens of your own so that they produce safe and healthy meat at home without having to buy it.
What is an Organic Meat Chickens?
Organic meat chickens are raised on a diet of organic grains, and they’ve never been given any antibiotics or hormones. The birds are also allowed to roam freely in their environment, which helps develop a richly flavored product.
Organic chickens are raised without the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. They can also be fed organic feed without the use of animal by-products or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Organic chickens must be slaughtered in a humane manner, which means they can’t be electrically stunned or suffocated before being killed.
Organic chicken farming is a growing industry because consumers are interested in knowing where their food comes from and how it was grown or raised. Organic chicken farms follow strict guidelines set by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) to ensure that their products meet their standards for organic certification.
Sourcing Your Eggs For Organic Meat Chickens
If you are sourcing your eggs from a local farmer or from a store that offers organic meat chickens, there are some things to keep in mind.
If you are sourcing your eggs from a local farmer, ask about the feed they use. If they feed their chickens GMO corn or soy, then the eggs will likely be contaminated with GMOs as well (unless they are pastured).
If you are sourcing your eggs from a store that sells organic meat chickens, then make sure that they have not been fed GMO corn or soy. The best way to do this is to ask if they sell any non-organic meat chickens as well. If they do, then those chickens have not been fed GMO corn or soy and their eggs will also not be contaminated with GMOs.
If you can’t find non-organic meat chickens at your local farmer’s market or grocery store, then look for another source (or try ordering them online).
Chicken Breeds That Reproduce Easily
Organic meat chickens are raised according to the USDA’s organic standards. The birds are fed an all-vegetarian diet and allowed to roam free in a barn with plenty of space. This helps ensure that they’re healthy and happy, which leads to better-tasting meat.
Organic meat chickens are also available in many varieties, including:
Cornish Cross — These birds have been bred to grow quickly and produce large amounts of white meat. They’re generally available as “broilers” or “roasters.”
Plymouth Rock — This is the most popular breed of bird for commercial meat production because they grow quickly and have white meat that’s tender enough for roasting or frying.
Raising Organic Chicks in the Brooder
We’ve all heard that chicken soup is good for you, but it turns out that there are many more health benefits of raising chickens. The American Poultry Association says that keeping chickens can help reduce stress, improve your diet and enhance your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It’s no wonder that many people are starting to raise their own flock of chickens!
As your chicks grow up, they need a safe place to live where they can roam around outside and enjoy fresh air without predators getting them. A brooder box will keep them safe while they get used to their surroundings. You’ll need to buy some supplies before you get started:
Brooder Box – A rigid box with a wire bottom will work best because it won’t tip over when the chicks move around inside it. The wire bottom allows air circulation underneath the box so the chicks don’t suffocate from their own body heat.
Heat Lamp – Chickens are not naturally equipped with feathers or downy feathers like other birds; they have only small down feathers and must be kept warm by artificial means until they develop their adult plumage at around 6 weeks old. A heat lamp is essential for this purpose!
Moving Chickens Outside
Moving chickens outside is a great way to give your flock more space and fresh air, but it can be stressful for them. If they’re used to living in an enclosed coop, they may not know how to fly or defend themselves against predators. Even if they’re used to the outdoors, they may not be accustomed to the new environment.
It’s important that you take the time to acclimate your chickens before moving them outside permanently. Here are some tips for making the transition easier:
Tip 1: Make sure that all of your chickens get along well with each other, especially if you have new additions from a different flock. If there are any issues between them, it will only make things harder when it comes to moving them outside.
Tip 2: Acclimate your chickens slowly by letting them out for short periods of time at first and increasing their time outside gradually over several days or weeks until they can spend their entire day outside with no problems at all.
Tip 3: Introduce them slowly to new smells and sounds so that they aren’t overwhelmed by everything at once.
Avoiding Herbicides and Pesticides When Raising Organic Meat Chickens
If you’re raising organic chickens, you may be wondering about the use of herbicides and pesticides. These chemicals can be harmful to your birds, so it’s important to avoid using them.
Herbicides are used to kill unwanted plants. Pesticides are used to kill pests such as insects and weeds. While these products may help control some problems, they can also create other issues for your flock.
Here are some things you should know about herbicides and pesticides:
Herbicides can cause rashes in your chickens. This can be especially problematic if your chickens are kept in a coop with wire floors that allow the chemicals to soak through the flooring and come into contact with their skin. Also, beware of any chemical that contains 2,4-D or triclopyr (another type of herbicide). These have been linked to liver damage in humans when they come into contact with them through skin contact or ingestion.
Pesticides can cause neurological damage in chickens. If ingested or inhaled by your flock, a pesticide might affect their brain function and cause paralysis or seizures.
Vaccinations and Avoiding Illness
If you’re raising organic meat chickens, you’ll want to make sure they are vaccinated against the diseases that can affect them. These include Marek’s disease and avian influenza.
Marek’s disease is a viral infection that can cause tumors in the chicken’s internal organs and may be fatal. Avian influenza is a highly contagious virus that can spread quickly through a flock of birds. It causes coughing and sneezing, which spreads the virus from bird to bird. If a chicken is infected with avian flu, there is no cure for it and all the birds in the flock will need to be destroyed to prevent further infection.
Vaccines for Marek’s disease and avian influenza are available only by prescription from your veterinarian. You will need to call around to find one who knows about raising organic chickens or ask at your local feed store if anyone knows of someone who does this sort of thing.
Ethics to Consider when Raising Organic Meat Chickens
Debeaking is a routine procedure done to poultry to prevent cannibalism and feather pecking. As the name suggests, debeaking involves cutting off the tip of the chicken’s beak with a hot blade. Some people oppose this practice because it can cause pain and suffering to the birds and make them more likely to engage in harmful behaviors like pecking other birds.
Debeaking is a common practice among organic farmers who raise chickens for meat because it prevents birds from injuring one another during their short lives in confinement. It’s also used as a standard practice on free-range and pastured poultry operations.
Raising organic meat chickens is a fun and rewarding experience. The benefits of raising your own chickens are numerous, including fresh eggs, organic fertilizer, and healthier meat for your family. However, you must take care to ensure that the birds have adequate space in which to grow.
As with any livestock, organic meat chickens need adequate space in which to live and grow. In fact, organic standards require that organic poultry have access to the outdoors and cannot be confined indoors at any point during their lives. This means that if you want to raise a flock of organic meat chickens, you need enough room in which to keep them.
If you live in an urban area or other areas where space is limited, there are still options available for growing your own organic meat chickens. You can use a portable coop, or build one yourself using materials such as PVC pipe and wire mesh. Portable coops are easy to move around when needed or can be set up permanently if desired. They also allow you to move them into a greenhouse during cold weather so that the birds don’t need supplemental heat during harsh winters.
As you can see, the process of raising organic meat chickens is easy. All that’s required is ample space, healthy feed from various plant sources, clean, secure housing, and a few other incidental costs here and there.