Raising Organic Poultry

What makes an organic chicken organic? Here are the details on raising free-range and organic poultry.

Free Range Chickens

With all the concerns about food these days -- namely, fats, trans fat, probiotics and omega 3s – it's no surprise that we're becoming more concerned with the sources of our food, how it was raised, and in the case of meat and poultry, how it was fed. If you're tempted to reach for the free-range chicken at the supermarket, but you're not sure what it means, read what certified organic farmer Mike Hansen at Good Earth Farms has to say.

What makes organic chicken organic?

Strict guidelines govern the certification of farms as organic, and "certified organic" farms must follow them all to earn the stamp. Constant monitoring and data collection makes sure that nothing goes unnoticed. The major requirement in raising an organic chicken is that it not be fed any growth hormones or antibiotics. Organic animals eat natural grasses instead.

Free-range: The freedom to roam

You'll be hard pressed to find a chicken coop at a free-range farm. The chickens are not penned up in a cage or kept inside. Instead, they are allowed to roam through fields and pastures and to graze on the grass. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires that the animals have outdoor access to be considered free range. They also can seek shelter in a barn when they choose. These procedures are practiced all year long.

Benefits of eating free-range and organic

If you are what you eat, then you're also what your food ate. Therein lies the main difference between free-range, organic poultry and regular poultry: The former is given no antibiotics and lives on a healthy supply of grasses and grains -- which means you won't ingest any harmful chemicals yourself when eating this type of poultry.

free-range organic chicken diets

Hansen feeds his free-range organic chickens a mix of clover, grass and minerals to keep them healthy and happy. "We ensure that they are eating only from the pasture," explains Hansen. "And we don't add anything to the pasture other than natural products like compost, green manures and minerals." The results are leaner birds that get lots of exercise, fresh air and water; this also means they're more flavorful. "They scratch, eat clover and grass, chase grasshoppers and receive our own feed mix," explains Hansen. "Just like nature intended."

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Comments on "How organic, free-range chickens are raised"

godfrey dengwani February 07, 2014 | 4:47 AM

Hi..I would like to know the most common diseases that are likely to afflict free range chickens and how do i deal with them without resorting to antibiotics?

zippy omwenga August 26, 2013 | 3:01 AM

how long does it take for a organic chicken to start laying eggs.can they feed on soya beans .

Mimi March 06, 2013 | 4:50 AM

Hi, How long does it take for a free range chicken to be called full grown and ready for selling/eating?

Chicken Feed May 14, 2012 | 10:34 AM

Anibal- if you are going to feed your organic chickens corn, the corn should be organic and free of GMO's. A diverse diet is best and chickens should get about 24% protein from their diets. Mix in some other feed with your corn for best results and be sure anything you feed is also certified organic.

Anibal Hernandez May 14, 2012 | 3:30 AM

Is it right to feed my organic chickens with some corn. Please answer. Thank you.

ERNEST MARINGA March 21, 2011 | 6:02 AM

Am from Kenya in Africa and have been interested to know how to raise free range chickens.Thinking of rearing some as a business. Thank you.

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