Organic Options for Chicken Keepers

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As you and your family spend time with your new baby chicks, you will find yourself amazed at how quickly they grow, feather out, and develop their own unique personalities. We love to keep chickens for many reasons. These include keeping them as fun pets, for delicious eggs, on-going entertainment, organic pest control and to provide manure for our compost pile. However, I feel one of the most important reasons I keep chickens is that I want to know where my food comes from and that it's safe for me and my family.  The chickens have become part of our family and we have become part of theirs. Caring for our flock on a daily basis helps to keep them healthy and thriving. In my opinion, one of the best things you can do for your families, whether human or feathered, is to start them off with excellent nutrition.

Chicken keeping has come a long way since the 1940's, when most folks in America had victory gardens and a small flock of chickens. Back then their techniques were organic, but we knew very little about nutritional science. With many years of research in livestock and agriculture, we know so much more than we did all those years ago.

As mentioned above, one of the many reasons people keep flocks of chickens is for their eggs. Eggs from backyard chickens that are allowed to free-range are said to not only taste better than those found in the grocery store, but can be more nutritious. These eggs typically contain more beta-carotene, Vitamins A, D, E, and omega-3 fatty acids. Chickens rely on their food sources to make eggs.In the case of eggs, their nutritional content is only as good as the quality of food the hens consume. In our family, we have made a conscious effort to try and go back to the days when foods were free from synthetic chemicals and genetic modification.

I was very excited to learn that Manna Pro® offers an organic poultry line. This line features Organic StarterOrganic_Starter_Crumbles_5lb_front_-_Copy Crumbles, Organic Layer Pellets, and Organic Scratch, which are all made without medications or genetically-modified ingredients.  They are pesticide-free and certified organic by the USDA.

Good nutrition in our flock starts when the chicks arrive. Chicks need a higher level of protein as their bodies rapidly grow and develop. Chick starter feeds should consist of approximately 19% protein. Each beak-full of chick-sized crumble is packed with perfect nutrition for their first eight weeks of life. Once chicks are between the ages of eight and sixteen weeks, they should be fed a grower feed. Then, when they reach sixteen weeks, they can be transitioned to layer pellets. Some chicken keepers believe that using layer pellets over a layer mash helps to cut down on food waste. Layer pellets also provide nutrition that 4colorsealgifis specifically formulated for egg laying pullets and adult hens. This feed formulation can be used for the rest of their lives, even for the roosters!

We also like to treat our chickens to healthy snacks. In the morning and late afternoon, fruits, vegetables, sunflower seeds, or a few handfuls of scratch are shared with the flock. When we toss the scratch on the ground it makes for great entertainment. It also keeps the chickens happy and hunting for those tasty morsels of assorted grains.

When I was little, my Mom often reminded me, "You are what you eat." I try to have the same philosophy out in the chicken coop. The best thing is that my chickens never complain about eating their vegetables.

 

Melissa Caughey

Melissa Caughey

Melissa Caughey is a backyard chicken keeper, beekeeper, gardener, and cook who pens the award winning blog, Tilly's Nest. She lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts with her family of four and her Miniature Schnauzer.

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