There are two primary types of backyard flocks: organic and conventional. If you are considering having an organic flock, the difference all comes down to the feed your birds eat. Here are a few tips if you are considering feeding organic feed: Step 1: Choose an organic feed that meets industry regulations. For a feed to be considered organic, all organic ingredients and products must be raised and manufactured according to the rules established by the National Organic Program. Organic ingredients cannot be fertilized with chemical fertilizers, treated with insecticides/fungicides/pesticides, etc. and cannot be genetically modified. Organic feed products cannot contain chemical preservatives, medications, hormones or animal by-products. It takes a minimum of three years to become certified as a producer of plant or animal organic products. Products certified as organic will carry a seal or statement from the certifying agency that verifies their authenticity. Step 2: Make the transition based on your flock goals. There are two primary reasons for transition to organic feed: 1. To produce eggs for your family from organic-fed hens; and 2. To market certified organic eggs. The distinction between these two options is very important and will impact your transition process. If you are looking to produce eggs from organic-fed hens (not certified organic eggs for resale): Transitioning to organic feed for your adult hens is easy—simply mix organic feed with your previous feed over the course of 7-10 days. Start by sprinkling a little bit of the new feed on top of their current feed. Over the next several days, increase the amount of organic feed being added each day. Be sure to stir the feed, so that the birds will be eating both old and new feed. By the end of your 7-10 day period, the feeder should contain only the organic feed. From there, you can begin collecting eggs for your family to eat or hatch. This process gives you control over the feed your hens eat, but the birds and their eggs are not considered “certified organic”. If you would like to start a certified organic flock, the rules are more in-depth. The USDA requires that for farm fresh eggs or meat to be certified organic, it must be from birds that have been under continuous organic management beginning no later than the second day of life. If you are starting your flock organically, chicks must be fed organic feed from the beginning in order for farm fresh eggs to be considered fully organic. Organic poultry, including birds used for meat or eggs, lose their organic status if they are removed from the organic farm and managed on a non-organic operation. You can return them to organic feed, but they cannot be rotated back into certified organic production. Do you raise your flock organically? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!