Organic poultry farming is an extensive system of rearing chickens. It is extensive in the sense that chickens are raised under natural conditions. The conventional system of rearing chickens is an intensive system; this is because chickens are kept in a controlled environment, alien to their physiological and metabolic activities.
Poultry production is a pivotal aspect of global food production; chicken meat and egg takes the lion’s share among the global sources of protein. Egg alone contains about 98
percent of the nutrients required for healthy growth for both old and young.
Contrary to the opinion of most farmers, organic poultry farming is an indigenous system of rearing chickens. It has been in practice from the days of yore. The implementation and adoption of technology into poultry farming took many farmers far from the origin of poultry production, the organic realm.
The conventional system of poultry production is better as it has been practiced sustainably over time. However, organic poultry production is best because it takes into account the health of the consumer.
The health of the consumers is a major factor in the profitability and productivity of any food-producing enterprise. When you produce food that tends to threaten or detrimental to the health of the consumers, you lose money, customers and most importantly, your credibility and integrity as a farmer is at stake; hence, it is better no to produce at all.
Organic poultry farming is practicable and sustainable; the price to pay for successful organic chicken production is knowledge. When you have scalable knowledge about this system, you can keep chickens organically successfully and operate at any level of production.
In this article, you would learn the requirements of organic poultry farming in terms of housing, nutrition and feeding, medications and market potentials.
Requirements For Organic Poultry Farming
The requirement for keeping chickens organically is quite different from the conventional system. These requirements circumvent all the aspects of poultry production such as:
- Nutrition and feeding
- Health and welfare
Housing requirement for organic poultry farming
Housing is a crucial aspect of poultry production. When you study these guidelines on building a poultry house carefully, you would observe that the comfort of the birds is of paramount importance. The housing requirement for organic poultry farm is different from that of the conventional one. There are certain conditions you must place chickens on in an organic farm; they are:
- Do not cage chickens in an organic farm:
Chickens in organic farms are not caged. Remember, it is the indigenous system you are bringing back to practice. Birds reared under the organic system are kept in free and controlled range; the range is controlled because it has limits in terms of land area and protection from virulent predators.
Chickens, either for meat or egg production, are kept in hutches and are released into the free range where they are allowed to exhibit their natural behaviors such as ground scratching, perching, foraging, sand bathing, and others innate characteristics. These accessories must be present in your organic poultry house:
- Perching rails
- Dust bath
- Dark seclusion
- Access to open ground
The house structure could be one of these simple poultry houses; the range constitutes the larger portion of the housing.
The perching rail allows the chickens to carry out their flight action; the dust bath allows the birds to regulate their body temperature through sand, thus, eliminating heat stress.
The dark seclusion is usually the resting area and where the nests are kept for egg production. Open ground allows the birds access to sand for proper gizzard function and digestion; also sources of food and nutrients, especially zinc.
Feed and feeding chickens organically
Chicken feeds and feeding in the right quantity and quality is important for high productivity of an organic poultry farm. Truly, the chickens have access to pasture but that does not negate the provision of well-balanced diets to cater for their nutritional requirements.
Either egg producing or meat producing organic farm, use any of these types of chicken feed at the right time and quantities following this chicken feeding guide. The pasture or range serves as a supplemental source of nutrients. Chickens derive a lot of nutritional and health benefits of consuming young succulent plants in the pasture.
Green plants are rich in Magnesium, Phosphorus, and Potassium. These nutrients are essential for good bone formation, muscle development, and quality egg production; forage consumption makes the chicken’s products tastier and more nutritious.
Many farmers feel the organic system of rearing chicken is not sustainably. This is obviously not true.
I once had a debate with a savvy farmer; we discussed extensively on organic and inorganic food production. I was pleased he agreed to the fact that inorganic foods are detrimental to consumer’s health but he made emphasis on moderation in the use of synthetic materials during the production process as a means of mitigating the risk associated with the consumption of inorganic foods. However, my conclusion was that a poison would always remain a poison irrespective of its quantity or level of intake.
Medications And Health Welfare In An Organic Poultry Farm
This is the main distinguishing factor of the organic and inorganic farm. In the organic poultry farming, all the materials used to cater for the chickens’ welfare, usually the medications are natural. This is not the same in the conventional poultry farm.
Good health condition of poultry birds is stimulated by drugs and vaccines. Drugs are used to treat disease conditions while vaccines are used for prevention. This can also be keyed into organic poultry farming without compromising the quantity and quality of the products.
These Herbs and stringent biosecurity measures can be used to stimulate the desired health condition in organic poultry farming. There are some proven herbs that can be used to prevent unruly poultry diseases such as Newcastle, Coccidiosis, Fowl pox etc.; these herbs are:
- Scent leaf
- Cayenne pepper
- Raw honey
- Pawpaw leaf extract and latex
- Apple cider vinegar
Tangiri, commonly called Christmas melon, is a proven antiviral herb. It can serve the same function, even better, of the Newcastle disease vaccine. One of the health benefits of tagiri on chickens is the prevention and control of Newcastle disease.
Garlic, ginger, and scent leaf are effective organic antibiotics for chickens; they are broad spectrum and control virtually all forms of infections in poultry birds. They can be used singly, like garlic alone or ginger, or in the combination of not more than two ingredients for effective action. They are immune boosters and have the ability to treat different infections and diseases like Fowlpox and CRD effectively.
Parasitic worms are great problems to chickens; they reduce growth and production. The organic dewormer you will use for your chickens are pumpkin seed, pawpaw seed, pawpaw leaf extract or latex. These herbs have anthelmintic properties; they help to get rid of parasitic intestinal worms without harming the chickens and the consumer of the chicken’s product.
You can treat and control coccidiosis organically using bitter leaf extract or cayenne pepper extract. These herbs have been used and the results have been very laudable.
You need multivitamins to serve as anti-stress and provide essential vitamins and minerals; in organic poultry farming, we use raw honey or apple cider vinegar. Adding apple cider vinegar in chicken water helps to improve the conditions of the chicken’s gut making it unfit for parasites. These two materials are powerful multivitamins that are beneficial to poultry birds. They are natural and can be used as an organic multivitamin supplement for chickens.
Talk of any poultry disease, these herbs is up to the task of controlling and bringing your chickens back to their normal and productive health condition. They are non-toxic to the birds and the consumer of the chicken and its product.
Organic poultry farming is the future of poultry production. The geometric increase in the global population has warranted the need for a healthy and sustainable source of food supply. Hence, organic production is an established means of sustainable food.
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