Organic chicken keeping

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Tracydr, Dec 20, 2011.

  1. Tracydr

    Tracydr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Any thoughts on managing chickens organically? How to deworm, delouse, feed, treat illness, choose future generations? How do you do this without breaking the bank, causing massive flock illnesses from parasites or illness.
    I've pretty much managed organically for most of my poultry keeping years and would like to know others tricks to success. I'm super small scale with flock size always 25-50 birds, meat birds usually a handful at a time to process one or two at a time.
    As far as how I do it. DE for external parasites, I don't use a deep litter system but rather clean my coop monthly and add bedding +DE. No bleach, no disinfectants. Deworming isn't really very technical, flock just gets lots of melon and squash guts, some peppers. I don't keep weak chickens or try to nurse them back to health.
    I don't try to treat sick chickens with antibiotics, they are removed from the flock and killed.
    Garden is free of chemicals so birds are not being exposed to chemicals there. And, finally, I've started to use organic feed. This is new for me, it's so pricey but we recently started a group to buy in bulk and got the price down to less than Purina.
    So, anybody else raise organically, or at least try to? Eggs, meat birds, breeders? How do you do it? Any secret tips?
     
  2. BairleaFarm

    BairleaFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    People say they have organic birds but most do not. Ive been thinking about it. But for 1. I would have to replace my entire flock and 2. I dont have the 300$ to get certified. There is no way I can afford the feed. Ive been playing around with some crops to see what I can grow with out chemicals. There are only a few spots I can use here on teh farm as Dad used chemicals a couple years ago on a bunch of fields.
     
  3. newchicktochicks33

    newchicktochicks33 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Me and my family raised all organic chickens. We have a flock of layers and roosters and we raise 50-100 meat birds once or twice a year. For us its very easy, we have had maybe 1 sick bird in the past 6 years of raising chickens and it was this summer with one of our meat birds who was blind. We also use DE and that seems to work very well. As for their feed, we buy two 4 gallon buckets of grower from a local feed store, those last about 1 1/2- 2 weeks feeding our layers. We also give them ALOT of scrapes, all of our uneaten food from our meals is taking out to the chickens, they LOVE it!!
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2011
  4. BairleaFarm

    BairleaFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How much for the organic layer? and are you table scraps organic? To the OP. how much bulk did you all have to buy to get it less than regular bagged feed?
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2011
  5. Kassaundra

    Kassaundra Sonic screwdrivers are cool!

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    Are you asking about "certified organic" practices or practices that replace chemical / medication where a person can?
     
  6. BairleaFarm

    BairleaFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:are they called chemical free? I think thats what I have
     
  7. Tracydr

    Tracydr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:I'm not really talking about certified organic. I'm just talking about keeping chickens organically. No need to certify something used for family/friends or to sell eggs to people who don't care about official certification. I realize the certification process is extremely costly and for those who've been through it I commend you, however, im talking about actually raising chickens organically. I really could care less if the government tells me I'm organic or not.
     
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I can produce birds organically in a free-range setting without any chemical or feed inputs but number of birds / acre is low and production is hard to predict. Earliest hatch date is usually April, any sooner and forage base will not be in place for small chicks. Once a little feed is added, even hog feed as in my case, breeding can start earlier but production levels will still be low and eratic due to cocci. Buying organic feeds is going to be pricey and my birds do not seem to perform as well on such feeds. Not using chemicals used to be standard for me but it requires birds that are resistant to prevailing cocci. Worms I ignore despite fact that do impact production somewhat.

    Locally adapted birds will be a first consideration.
     
  9. newchicktochicks33

    newchicktochicks33 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Both buckets together is $29.00 and most of the scraps are organic except for some food from restaurants when we eat out.
     
  10. Tracydr

    Tracydr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:Let's start over here. I'm not talking about certified organic. I'm talking about raising my own chickens organic for my own use. I'm talking about growing my own garden organic for my own use.
    Nobody needs to come certify me to tell me that I'm organic or not. It's not that hard, really. Actually, the organic gardening is really not hard, either. I've been gardening without chemicals for about four years and find that my garden is much healthier than when I used chemical fertilizer and pesticide.
    So, let's talk about raising our chickens naturally. Without chemicals. Without keeping them on scheduled dewormer. Without sevin dust. Without antibiotics. Hopefully, without GMO feeds.
    I realize it's scary. It's hard to take the plunge. It's so much easier to cure them when their sick. Give them a shot, give them wormer, make them all better. Especially when you have 4-5 chickens and they are your pets. But, this is why I think this is a topic that can/should be discussed openly on BYC. It is so much easier to give them a fix for everything. But then they need a fix for everything.
    I'm just guessing but I suspect the average age for a BYC member is relatively young, maybe 30ish? It's typical in this day and age to pop a pill for whatever ails yah. And, I'm speaking from experience. I work in one of the busiest Urgent Care systems in one of the largest growing metropolitan areas of the country. Let me tell you, young moms want those antibiotics and get well fast pills for their kiddos and they want them now!
    So, our society is becoming an antibiotic resistant, pesticide resistant society. MRSA, have you heard of it? When I went to medical school we hadn't heard of it. Seriously! MRSA is a new problem caused by misuse, abuse of antibiotics.
    We have the same problems in the farming industry. Example: I once bought four bottle calves from a dairy to put on my Jersey cow. Now, dairies, that's where we get our milk, that's what we put in our kid's bodies, right? Ok. So, these cute little, three day old calves were all deathly ill within hours of arriving at my farm. I sent in cultures of their stools and blood to the local vet school. They had not one but four infections! E.coli 157, and salmonella which were both resistant to every antibiotic tested. They also had rotavirus and coronavirus.
    So, how did these sweet little baby calves come to be sick with drug resistant e.coli 157 and drug resistant salmonella at just a few days old? Because our commercial dairies give those cows antibiotics. So, not only are we getting too many antibiotics from our own doctors (seriously, I get pushed into writing antibiotics for viruses almost daily and my life would be miserable if I tried to fight that argument every single time). Maybe not while milking but sometime, somewhere those cows are getting a lot of drugs and it's getting into our food chain and into us. In Europe, antibiotics are not used for ear infections like they are here. Even here, the CDC doesnt recommend antibiotics for adults with strep throat but I cannot convince the patient to follow CDC's guidelines, at least not 90% of the patients, although I follow them for myself and my immediate family.
    The case of these sick calves really made an impression on a second year medical student like myself way back when it happened. Since the antibiotics wouldn't work I put them on probiotics, fluids, just supportive care. Yogurt, acidophillus, fiber to slow down the diarrhea, electrolytes. And, believe it or not,those little calves survived, thrived, and became my fresh beef for the next several years.
    So, what's all this have to do with chickens and people, you ask? Well, I don't know about you but I eat my eggs. I eat my chickens. I eat the vegetables that grow in my garden with the poop that comes out of my chickens bums. What this means is that every single chemical that goes into my chicken will in some way, shape or form potentially effect me and my family, not to mention my environment. ( the birds, bees, praying mantids, butterflies, ladybugs)
    So, long story but what I'm trying to say is that what the medicines, food and pesticides that we give to our chickens may seem like a simple fix to a simple problem but could have very far reaching consequences. Consider, for instance, the next time you reach for the Baytril or penicillin for the sniffly chicken. Not to be an alarmist but you could be helping another superbug to form, similar to MRSA, E.Coli 157 or, now we also have a super c.difficile.
    As a healthcare specialist, I'm exposed to more than my share of superbugs, unfortunately. I've been hospitalized with a "flesh-eating" bacteria which nearly killed me and I've also had an awful case of super resistant e.coli followed by a resistant c.difficile. They were all a chain reaction, having been exposed to one superbug, I needed multiple antibiotics, then got another bug and another and another. I was literally dealing with the crap for three years.
    So, when I speak of being very cautious about using medications in my animals or chemicals of any kind, I have an intimate knowledge of what happens when that delicate biological balance falls apart.
    In horses, we are seeing terrible resistance to dewormers of all kinds. What happens when none of them work? Nobody thought the daily dewormer would ever stop working but now there is resistance to Strongid C. Ivermectin, it was believed resistance to ivermectin wasn't possible because of the way it works but now there is terrible resistance to it.
    Who remembers when the only horse dewormers that we had were the blue pellets that horses wouldn't eat and "tube worming" from the vets once a year? And, neither forms really worked all that well?
    So, I've rambled on long enough. Let's keep the discussion about real life organic farming. No worries about government certification. That can be a discussin for another place. I doubt that many members of the BYC population is interested in becoming organic certified but many are interested in real-life organic practices.
    Sorry if I'm preaching. I'm just really passionate about the topic.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2011
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