Prospective of Organic Poultry Farming
January 12, 2013
What is Organic Poultry Farming?
People must have heard about the nasty conditions which broiler chickens – which are bred for their meat – are raised in? These chickens have no more floor space than a sheet of A4 paper. Chickens are over-fed to reach slaughter weight in six weeks, when it would normally take four months.
Modem intensive systems of poultry production have produced cheap meat for the consumer – but at a price. Inside the intensive chicken houses, which are appearing in increasing numbers in the countryside, up to 40,000 birds are crammed, at 2 birds to the square foot, into a single windowless building, with almost continuous low levels of artificial light, they are then given drugs to speed up their rate of growth. Keeping so many animals packed together in such a stressful environment can only contribute to their rates of infection. It seems logical that the Chinese flu infections that we were seeing transmitted to humans comes from this same intensive farming.
Organic farmers do a number of things to ensure that chickens are reared as naturally as possible. For starters, antibiotic growth promoters cannot be used but sick organic birds must be treated with appropriate veterinary medicine, so they can be given antibiotics if theyre very poorly. But they cannot be given drugs on a regular and routine basis, something that almost all non-organic poultry have to endure. Organic poultry is reared on a specially formulated feed containing only cereals, vegetable protein, a small amount of fish meal, and a vitamin/mineral supplement. These chickens are often guaranteed to be fed on feed which is free from genetically modified feedstuffs (GMOs). To be fully organic, chickens must be fed a diet containing grain which has been grown organically, without artificial fertilisers or sprays. Such feed is expensive, and therefore organic chicken is more expensive as well.
Also, on Soil Association registered farms, the number of chickens housed in a single shed is restricted to 1,000. A non-organic intensive chicken farm may have as many as 40,000 in the same shed. Organic birds are kept free-range, having continuous daytime access to clean pasture, except in adverse weather. Non-organic birds are almost always locked up night and day.
In addition, the Soil Association insists on full and clear labeling of processed chicken products. They are able to trace back to the farm all ingredients used in any Soil Association chicken products. Their organic certification standards state that food must undergo as little processing as is practical. Organic chicken farming can be a profitable business for a small farm. Raising meat birds organically, on pasture, is both environmentally sound and animal-friendly.
Advantages of Organic Poultry Farming:
The advantages of organic chicken as a livestock animal for your small farm are many:
- Meat chickens are a quick turnaround: in 10-12 weeks you can raise day-old chicks to roaster size. This means a quick return on your investment. You can also do more than one batch of birds a year.
- Meat chickens are space-efficient: you don’t need a lot of land to raise some chickens, even on pasture. A batch of 100 birds can be confined in about 1/5 of an acre without harming the land.
- Meat chickens are time-efficient: caring for pastured poultry should only take about 20 minutes a day. This leaves time for other farm activities.
- Organic free-range chicken is a premium product: if you have ever looked at the price of organic chicken in the stores, you will see they are charging a hefty price. This means you have a good margin for profit for your own birds.
- And of course, free-range organic chicken is delicious! You can fill your own freezer with healthy, great-tasting meat.
- The key to successful (i.e. profitable) organic chicken farming is minimizing your losses. You need to get at least 95% of the chicks you start with to market. This means you need to properly care for the little chicks by keeping them warm, dry and adequately nourished. And you need to keep the big birds on pasture safe from predators.
- If you are successful in this, you can achieve a profit of 60% to 70% on each batch you do. If you live in an area with enough snow-free days, you could raise three batches each year. This could potentially give you a 200% return (3 x 70%) on your initial investment. If you have a small property, whether 25 acres, 5 acres, or even less than 1 acre, organic chicken farming can put meat in your freezer and money in your wallet.
- Organic farming produces the same crop variants as those produced via conventional farming methods, but incurs 50% lower expenditure on fertilizer and energy, and retains 40% more topsoil.
- This type of farming effectively addresses soil management. Even damaged soil, subject to erosion and salinity, are able to feed on micro-nutrients via crop rotation, inter-cropping techniques and the extensive use of green manure.
- Farming the organic way enables farmers to get rid of irksome weeds without the use of any mechanical and chemical applications.
How to raise the organic chicken?
To raise, certified organic chickens, you must take the following steps:
- Each chicken must have at least 2 square feet of green space to roam and eat insects.
- Chickens are only housed when the weather is bad, but must have free outdoor access.
- Birds must have enough room for natural behavior and to move without injury.
- Chickens must have access to direct sunlight and fresh air.
- Chickens must eat only grains certified to be free from pesticides and meat-free.
- Chickens must have clean water, free from antibiotics.
- Housing must be disinfected with approved products between flocks to prevent contamination.
- Vaccinations for Marek’s Newcastle, and Coccidiosis are allowed, but alternative therapies advocated by holistic veterinarians are encouraged.
- You must complete an application and provide documentation to the certifying body in your area.
- You must allow inspectors to check your facility for compliance.
Because organic feed is so expensive, most organic poultry producers prefer to mix their own feed. If you go this route, you can either grow your own ingredients or buy them from local certified organic producers.
If you use a mill, make sure the mill does a thorough cleaning before handling your organic feed. You may not use any drugs to promote growth of your organic chicken. r preventing feather pecking1, 5, and 6.
Some Physical Trimming Allowed
You may trim a bird’s beak and toes as long as it is in the best interest of your flock These are usually handled on a case-by-case basis, so proceed with caution.
Clean, Healthy Living Conditions Required
An organic chicken must have access to the
- Room to exercise
- Fresh air
- Direct sunlight.
You may not keep your flock
Continuously confined in cages,
But temporary confinement is allowed if it is adequately justified – it is up to your certifying agency as to whether this will be permitted.
Temperature of drinking water should not exceed 30°C (86°F).
No Antibiotics & No hormones
Clean out the Manure
Keep the manure cleaned out regularly. Make sure it doesn’t contaminate crops, soil or water. Either add the manure to your compost pile or treat your manure with a bacterial enzyme that will neutralize the toxins.
Feeder and drinker space
Should be provided to reduce competition and aggressive encounters which could result in injury.
Shahzad Ashraf Khan.
Cell # +92-321-7236231
Email ID: DrShahzadBalouch@Yahoo.com
University College of Veterinary & Animal Sciences,
The Islamia University of Bahawalpur.