Organic diets for small poultry flocks
Most organizations that certify organic poultry and eggs require that most or all of the ingredients in poultry rations be organically grown. The feed ingredients cannot be derived from genetically modified crops, and generally, no animal products such as meat meal or bone meal are allowed.
As a result, the number of ingredients available are more limited than for normal poultry rations. Because animal products cannot be used, special care must be taken to provide adequate sources of protein and phosphorous in the feed. Another concern is that medications cannot be added to organic feeds to control intestinal parasite infections such as coccidiosis. Other tools such as litter management or vaccination must be used to control these diseases.
The diets formulated in this fact-sheet will be acceptable to some, but not all, organic certifying organizations. When producing certified organic meat or eggs, always check with the certifying organization whether the feed is acceptable before feeding it to a poultry flock. The diets have been formulated for small flock owners and have fewer ingredients than will be found in commercially prepared organic rations. As much as possible, ingredients that are grown or that can be readily purchased in Manitoba are used in the diets. The diets are not formulated for maximum growth rate or egg production. Some of the diets are lower in energy and protein than commercial feeds and rely on the birds increasing their feed intake to consume the nutrients that they need. If you are planning to produce poultry on a commercial scale or as a source of income, organic feed should be purchased from a commercial feed mill.
It may be possible to buy a complete commercially prepared organic poultry ration or an organic supplement which can be mixed with organic grain on-farm to produce a complete diet. If commercial feeds or supplements are unavailable, a number of ingredients are needed to mix a balanced diet on-farm.
Wheat is one of the best cereal grains to feed to poultry and organic wheat is commonly available in Manitoba. It is a good source of starch for energy and moderate source of protein. Any variety of wheat, including hard red spring and durum, can be fed to birds, although some are slightly more digestible than others. Some shrunken or sprouted kernels can downgrade wheat for use in human foods but in many cases the feeding value of the wheat will remain acceptable for poultry.
Barley and Oats can be used to replace half of the wheat included in the poultry diets listed in this fact-sheet. For example if a ration calls for 600 kg of wheat, you can use 300 kg of wheat and 300 kg of barley or 300 kg of wheat and 300 kg of oats as an acceptable alternative. Oats and barley are lower in energy and crude protein and higher in fiber than wheat but are still acceptable ingredients. Unless an enzyme is added to aid in the digestion of the sticky starches found in barley and oats, young birds may have a temporary diarrhea when these ingredients are first fed.
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Article made possible through the contribution of Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives