Do Organic chicks grow slower than those feed non organic feed?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Ariel188, Mar 1, 2014.

  1. Ariel188

    Ariel188 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok question for those of you who ORGANIC feed your chicks. Do you think they grow slower than those not feed organic? The reason I ask is because I got chicks in 2012 and 2013 and BOTH times they grew MUCH slower than other peoples chicks who were the same age. I mean like MUCH slower!

    I was reading maybe they are too hot and that can slow down them growing? Anyone else have any ideas??? The people who had chicks same as mine that went to different places were way bigger than mine same age, same hatch, difference is they were not feed organic at their new homes so that is why I am wondering if that could be why. I mean it makes sense, there is probably more chemicals and what not in "regular" feed. I would like to hear from someone who has raised chicks both ways and everything else remained the same. Or anyone else who may have a theory. Thank you in advance. I want to figure this out before I hatch some chicks.
     
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I can't imagine that having much impact. The "chemical and what not" in conventional feed is nothing that would enhance growth, just added vitamins and minerals, that type of thing. The biggest difference is the grain itself, if it's gmo or not, and how it's grown. That in itself shouldn't cause a chick to grow faster.

    chicks being consistently too warm can cause them to feather out slower, but I've not seen it impact overall growth.

    Did your previous birds reach full growth? At what age? Are they productive, when did they start laying, etc. What breeds are we talking about?

    You could always do a side by side comparison and see if it's the feed, or something else causing slow growth.
     
  3. Ariel188

    Ariel188 Chillin' With My Peeps

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  4. Ariel188

    Ariel188 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Here she is a couple weeks ago at 10.5 months old.
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Ariel188

    Ariel188 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Someone on another group I belong to posted this:

    "OK...did a little research. Most of what I found had to do with chickens grown for meat...but the gist of the research suggests that an organic diet and free ranging will result in a slower growing, healthier chicken! Good observation, Ariel!

    Slow Growth Means Higher Welfare for Chickens
    01 July 2013
    DENMARK - Chickens need to grow more slowly if their welfare is to be improved and there must be greater focus on the nutritional requirements and feed use in relation to the chicken genotype, according to the preliminary results of an experiment with organic chickens at Aarhus University.

    Oganic broilers fare best if their growth is not too rapid. [Photo: Janne Hansen]
    The slogan for the chickens could be slow-grow. In an experiment at Aarhus University slower growth gave higher welfare for a clutch of organic broilers. This is one of the preliminary results of a project that studies how different feeding strategies affect the feed intake, growth rate, welfare, health, and meat quality of chicken breeds with different growth rates.
    "The current production regulations for organic broilers allow a faster growth rate and a much lower slaughter age than was originally permitted when organic broiler production was introduced in the mid-1990s. This often results in less active chickens, which increases the risk of foot pad lesions," said Klaus Horsted from Aarhus University.
    Since organic chicken is an expensive commodity for consumers to buy, it would be an advantage if some added value could be created for the product. This can be done by ensuring a high chicken welfare, a life spent outdoors with a tempting range of food choices and the provision of locally-produced feed. The project has investigated whether the use of alternative breeds and feeding methods could successfully pave the way for this.
    In the project the scientists compared new genetic slow-grow chicken breeds with the commonly used Danish organic broiler type. All chickens had access to a large outdoor area with herbs and the opportunity to root out and eat earthworms, bugs and insects. The chickens were also provided with different types of feed, including Danish grown protein crops.
    "There was a large difference in the effects of treatments on growth rate. The standard organic feed and whole wheat fed in separate silos resulted in growth rates that differed widely for the three genotypes, which reflects their different growth potentials," disclosed Sanna Steenfeldt.
    New sources of protein

    Half of the groups of chickens were offered a diet consisting of milled peas, rapeseed and lupine and with whole wheat and whole-oat in separate silos. The strategy for this group was based on choice-feeding – but the chickens tended to ignore the alternative protein feed. The chickens on this feeding strategy generally had a lower feed consumption and growth rate across all three breeds.
    "Probably, the chickens would have eaten more of the alternative protein diet if they had been introduced to it within the first four weeks of the rearing period," Professor Horsted suggested.
    Peas, rapeseed and lupine were, however, not the only sources of protein for the free-range chickens. Plants such as ryegrass, red clover, bird’s-foot trefoil and lucerne and different types of creepy crawlies were also good sources of nutrients.
    "Our analyses showed that the chickens had eaten insects, earthworms and snails. The snails had a very high protein content of 44.8 g protein per 100 g dry matter. Most of the herbs in the outdoor area also had a high protein content compared with many other Danish feed ingredients," said Ms Steenfeldt.
    Exercise and welfare

    Chicken gait score was assessed when chickens were 55 and 85 days old. Chickens with a relatively high growth rate often had an impaired gait. A poor gait score means the chicken is likely to be in pain. In the experiment, the fast-growing chicken breed had considerable problems with their gait when fed a standard organic feed, while the other two breeds had no such problems.
    However, when the more fast-growing breed was fed the alternative protein feed there were no gait problems, since the feed intake was lower, making the growth rate slower. It was the same picture for plumage and feet conditions. Chickens fed the alternative feed generally expressed a higher foraging activity in the outdoor area.
    "Preliminary results indicate that both chicken breed and feeding strategy are important factors when defining a high-quality chicken production from an ethical and resource perspective. If better welfare is to be achieved it is also important to use chickens with a slower growth rate and to focus on nutritional requirements and utilisation of food resources from the outdoor area for the individual breeds," said Ms Steenfeldt. Together with Klaus Horsted and Margrethe Therkildsen at the Department of Food Science, she is also investigating other factors such as meat and eating quality and the effect of the finishing feed.
    The project is part of the Organic RDD project called SUMMER.
    Organic RDD has been funded by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries and is coordinated by the International Centre for Research in Organic Food Systems (ICROFS)."
     
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  6. LonelyPageTurne

    LonelyPageTurne Chillin' With My Peeps

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    indiana
    There's no real difference in organic or gmo HUMAN food but I don't know about chicken feed. For humans those are just ways for people to make more money, studies just don't support them as being healthier.

    Meat chickens probably should grow slower, instead of the ultra rapid growth currently preferred by the meat industry and even small farmers. Allowing slower growth by itself would eliminate the cornish cross as a meat chicken as there are better tasting chickens who grow a little slower. It would prevent issues like the broken legs and keel bones.

    Also I imagine the difference for commercial meat chicken feed and the organic meat chicken feed is probably pretty significant in protein carbs and fat. Chemicals by themselves aren't bad, we rely on them every second of every day, but there's a difference between added vitamins and minerals and growth hormone and antibiotics. Those things shouldn't be in animal feed unless necessary.

    So for egg laying chickens and pets I don't imagine it makes much difference but for meat chickens you could possibly provide a non meat feed that has similar protein and other feed contents without the organic label and cost and the same slower growth.

    Tldr: look at the label for matching protein and carbs and fat and such, as I think that makes a bigger difference than the sort of fertilizer used on the plants. Avoid feeds with added antibiotics or hormones unless necessary.
     
  7. LonelyPageTurne

    LonelyPageTurne Chillin' With My Peeps

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    indiana
    Oh and if you read that article the biggest 2 reasons for the slower growth was the chickens didn't eat the organic feed and the types of chickens compared, the commercial broiler and 2 slower growing breeds. Since the birds ignored the organic feed they foraged more. They measured welfare by gait and the commercial broilers did better because they grew slower because they didn't eat the organic feed lol. I'd love to see this with a direct comparison where the chickens actually ate the organic feed, because this doesn't actually answer OPs question since his chickens DO eat their feed.


    Perhaps OP could measure his chickens feed intake and also the protein fat and carb content and compare that with his breeder. The article also didn't mention benefit of slower growth for non meat chickens and generally non meat chickens don't experience the same problems as the rapid growing commercial broilers.
     
  8. Spangled

    Spangled Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Theory: A chicken raised on feed that is organic will end up more closely resembling what it should genetically be like. No pesticides. No herbicides. No crazy fillers (bird feathers) that its digestive system can't figure out what to do with. Sometimes, when a body can't figure out how to deal with a "toxin," it surrounds it in a bit of fat and shunts it off to be stored somewhere in the body; this would add to body weight. A cleaner organic diet is bound to produce statistically a cleaner bird more in touch with how it's supposed to be chicken-wise, you know, express their chicken genes without interference from pesticides and herbicides, etc.

    Chicks raised by folks who feed organic are especially likely putting their chicks out on the grass/fields where they get more exercise than other chickens might. This keeps them from hanging out at the feeder as much as they might if they were in a small pen with nothing better to do than eat. If that makes a smaller chick, it doesn't bother me. But I would certainly make sure that my organic feed was top notch, including all things necessary for proper growth. I wouldn't buy something from my neighbor without seeing his/her formula and comparing it with the 1994 standards for chicken feed.

    Organic feed still has all the vitamins and minerals that other feeds have. The same formula is followed in almost all cases ... as of 5-6 years ago when we were formulating our feed. I suppose things could have changed, but the truth is easy to find by just comparing feed tags, many of which used to be online. The organic companies I'm aware of make standard feed, using the standard formula, using organic ingredients.

    If you want to supplement their feed a bit, you could get them some organic kelp ... can't remember the brand we use. We also add in turmeric, cinnamon, and some other herbs and spices and minerals that are supposed to spruce up their intestinal tract, making it capable of utilizing the feed better (supposedly, who can know for sure?). We can't afford it all, though ... like instead of green tea, which is supposed to ... um, I forget ... I think ... hmmm ... was it rid portions of the tract of certain worms???? Instead of giving green tea, I give them the green and herbal teas from the used tea bags I use. I just throw it on their scraps and they eat it up. I figure the more varied their diet the better and some of those herbal teas have some exotic things (loaded with various minerals) in them -- although, I'm careful with chicks, trying not to give too many scraps because I don't want it to displace their nutritional needs. Animal protein is great for chicks, though, and almost all organic feeds leave it out. If you eat ribs or steaks, letting the chicks peck the bones clean can do a lot for their growth, even 1/2 a small can of wild-caught fish per 10-20 2-month-old chicks can really give them a boost. Chicks raised by their moms are out catching bugs by 7 days (at least here), which is animal protein. Chicks not with their moms usually aren't out catching bugs because they are clueless at that point, even in a tractor on grass, so they aren't getting much animal protein.

    No, not all feed store feeds have bird feathers in them, but I've seen it on tags I have bought before (eons ago), along with "chicken by-products," which I would assume would be from chickens that had antibiotics in them.
     
  9. Spangled

    Spangled Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Swedish Flower Hen? Of the breeds you posted, that is all that I could figure this one is. As a breed ... or rather as a "landrace" chicken, they are not all big hens. There is no absolute standard on size for them from what I understand. I would certainly consider a Swedish Flower Hen of that size to be quite normal. But maybe I am missing your point?

    She's a pretty one!

    Were the Rhode Island Reds, Blue/Black Copper Marans, and Buff Orpingtons as small as the hen above? If so, then ... hmmm? Were they all hatched at the beginning of April? You didn't leave the lights on all day and night past 8 weeks, did you?
     
  10. Biologrady

    Biologrady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, I think the biggest difference in growth rate is ascribed to antibiotic use more than the organic vs. not label.
    Makes sense that if your immune system doesn't have to spend as much energy, you have more available for growth. There really isn't much evidence that caloric or nutrient access differs between "organic", "commonly used" or GMO foods, but there are certainly lots of other good reasons to avoid chemicals and antibiotics in our food chain. When it comes to GMO foods, the studies suggest that the concerns are more ecological by the mass-producing farmers than anything inherently bad about the food itself, which makes sense if you consider that all farming and agriculture is based on much more radical genetic modification ( like selectively breeding all these chickens from ancestral jungle fowl stock) than adding in a few genes in a lab.
    Personally, I support antibiotic-free and GMO products when I can for the good of nature and health in general, but I try not to be manipulated by the scare tactics either.
    By the way, I had an "organic" garden going last summer and had some suspicious lesions on my tomato plants... Not blight, seemed to be viral, possibly secondary to a mild fungus that's endemic to my area soil. I read up on the ways to treat this that would still qualify as "organic treatments" and was pretty horrified to see that the stuff I use to teach my chemistry classes, full of fire warnings and special handling requirements, could be applied and according to FDA guidelines my veggies could still be marketed as organic.
    A real eye-opener which has definitely affected my spending habits.
     
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