If you are feeding a certified organic feed exclusively, then you can say you feed certified organic feed. If they have access to outdoors and the land they are on is not certified organic, the chickens and their eggs cannot be claimed organic. As stated above, it is a long, complicated and detailed process to get certified organic.
That's not quite right. Under USDA regulations, if you are a producer grossing less than $5000 a year and follow the National Organic Plan rules, then you can sell products as "Organic" without certification, but not "USDA Certified Organic".
"Producers and handling (processing) operations that
sell less than $5,000 a year in organic agricultural
products. Although exempt from certifi cation, these
producers and handlers must abide by the national
standards for organic products and may label their
products as organic."
However this doesn't mean you can just claim to be organic. As that says you have to have all the same sort of documentation that a "certified" organic producer would need you just don't have to pay someone to certify you. Non-organic feed will automatically disqualify so if that store bought crumble is non-organic then you cannot legally claim organic.
To be Organic under the USDA rules, the hens have to be managed organically from the second day of life. That includes:
Only feeding organic feed
Allowing outdoor access
All pasture that the birds use must have been managed organically for the previous three years (no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, no non-organic or GMO seed)
All egg processing must be done using organic methods (no non-organic cleaners used on eggs or in egg processing areas)
No medications, antibiotics, or synthetic pesticides for the birds (no Sevin dust, no commercial de-worming medications, etc.)
Vaccinations are allowed as they are natural biological agents
Pasture must be managed to continually improve the soils (not too hard with pasture, plant some alfalfa and let the birds fertilize it)
Manure must be managed to not pollute groundwater or waterways
And probably a few other details, but that encompasses most of it...
Holy chicken Pooh that's alot of info. You all have really done your homework. Thank you so much. These eggs are for me and my family but we eat as much organic food as possible. I guess these eggs are much closer to organic than most eggs I can buy in the store. That will have to be good enough. Again thank you for the info.
If you aren't selling your eggs, it doesn't matter so much what the rules are for labeling eggs as organic. It sounds like you just want to be eating eggs that are organic or as healthy as possible. In that case, I would buy chicken feed that is labeled as organic. I wouldn't use chemicals on any areas that they free range.
I would allow them to eat green feed, like grass and dark leafy greens, as well as foraging for bugs and worms. Eggs produced from chickens that are eating a diet that includes foods like that are much better for you than eggs from chickens on a typical grain and soy feed. You can search here or look at the Mother Earth News web site for detailed information on the differences in the cholesterol, fatty acids and vitamins in eggs, depending on what the chickens were fed.
Meat from animals on pasture is also different in composition from animals on a feed lot eating grain. There's a lot of information on that online, too.