Questions/concerns about raising organic chickens...

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Dread Pirate Roberts

11 Years
Jan 20, 2009
Hi Y'all!

I have some questions/concerns regarding the idea of raising some organic chickens.

So far, I have always used medicated peep starter for the first 6-10 weeks or so, then switched to organic feed.

Technically speaking, this does not make for organic chickens/eggs.

So what's the deal with raising peeps on non-medicated peep starter?

I mean really, if I'm raising my peeps up on newspaper/paper towels/pine shavings, inside my house, then how and where are they going to pick up coccidia anyways? I just realized yesterday that my BC Marans peeps (3 weeks old today) have actually been unintentionally raised on non-medicated peep starter. At this point, I ain't trippin' because everybody is happy and healthy.

Next, what about the regular deworming of my flock? Is there any organic option for deworming, or do organic chickens just have worms and that's that?

I've read some things about cayenne, garlic and DE, but do these things really work (or are they just old wives' tales) and/or are they really safe? Personally, I love me some cayenne pepper. I put it all over almost everything I eat. But, there was a time not so long ago when I didn't have much tolerance to spicy stuff. I don't want my chickens to endure that kind of discomfort.

So the more I read, the more confused I get. My GF and I are starting to convert the entire farm here to organic, but I'm just not sure about the chickens. It sounds like a great idea and all, but I don't want to be like one of those crazy religious wack-job parents that don't take their kids to the doctor or give them any medicine, y'know whut I mean?

Oh yeah, what about Marek's vaccine? Does administering this mean that a chicken and its eggs will never be "organic"?

Organic means diferent things to different people.
I like to thing I raise my animals wholesome. No meds unless needed. Lots of preventive measures.
I still worm with comercial wormers( for all my livestock chicks get wormed 2x a year). Worms are a nasty thing to have. I have yet to find anything natural that works.
I did do the Mareks. For me it was a piece on mind thing. I am not the only one around my area with chickens.
Medicated starter contains drugs that suppress coccidia directly.(usually Amprolium) Coccis can be a very fatal if not treated ASAP. Once they have it you have to treat it meds. Cocci are a naturally occurring protozoan parasite found in almost every soil sample. There are about nine different strains within the Eimeria genus that do harm to chickens. Some of these strains are questionable, but most are verifiable. I happen to know that my soil samples contain Eimeria of the Necatrix stain. There was poultry kept on my farm before I owned it, and that virtually guarantees the Cocci eggs (oocysts), are on site
I still think that even given some meds and wormers it is still tons better then what you get in the store. Are you willing to take there word that it is all natural, hormone free, etc...
This way I know what my birds and other animals have had.
Ok, I'm way less qualified to answer most of this than most people here (currently raising my first batch of day-old chicks, now 3 weeks old), but I do have 1 answer. Birds can't taste cayenne. I used to get suet for my wild bird feeders that was flavored with hot pepper to keep the squirrels away, and the explanation is that mammals can taste it, and birds can't. And it's harmless to both. Now whether it works as a dewormer is another question entirely.
As to coccidia, I agree with your reasoning - from my research it seems unlikely that they'd be exposed to it unless they have exposure to dirt. I've read in lots of places that the best prevention is keeping their litter dry. (And when I used to work as a veterinary technician, we never routinely treated puppies or kittens for coccidia, only if they tested positive for it & had symptoms - many of them actually might show it in their poo but be perfectly healthy. I'm aware that chicken coccidia is a different species than the dog/cat kind, but putting all the research together my opinion is to not treat until they show a need for it.
So I started mine off with non-medicated and they're doing fine. My whole reason for getting chickens was to be able to have organic eggs & meat, so I don't want to give them anything unless they need it. On the other hand, I'm not growing them to sell, and I will take medication myself if I need it, so if my chickens get sick I do plan on medicating them, then just not eat their eggs for awhile if necessary.
If you've made it 3 weeks on non-medicated feed I wouldn't think switching to medicated now would make a difference. Maybe others can comment on that
On the feed thing, the medication is only for the prevention of the replication of cocci in the chickens gut.

It only helps them build an immunity to cocci IF they are exposed. And you do want to expose them early in life to the soil so they have something to build a resistance up to. The meds just keep any ingested cocci from reproducing inside.

You can give medicated feed and if there is a high levels normally present in the soil, they can still get cocci. You can get away with no med feed if 1, they develop the resistance early on with only low levels in the soil so it doesn't make them sick, or 2 there are just low levels never high enough to cause them to get sick in your area.

As for organic, personally I am for local first if the goods traveled 10 miles vs 1000 miles from an organic field. Different states and areas have different organic rules. I free range, and because the soil is not certified organic, none of my birds can be. However, if I kept them in little cages and fed them organic food while never letting them touch the ground, then they could be organic birds.
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