What do Organic Chickens Eat?
Farming Organic chickens in South Africa is very difficult. There are no suppliers of chicken feed that make a truly organic feed – all food supplied has, or uses, GMO. This presents a major challenge for organic chicken farmers. The only solution is for farmers to grow their own organic food, and organic vegetables for the chickens.
Whilst growing organic feed on the farm that has chickens is a condition of “organic poultry farming” the regulations stipulate that 60 percent of the feed be grown on the farm – the balance can be purchased. What this effectively means is that poultry farmers need to be organic crop farmers before they can farm organic chickens.
Organic chickens can eat any crop that fits the criteria of organic food. The types of crops that can be grown are numerous – chickens will eat almost any vegetables and some fruits. As organic chickens must be allowed to free range, the chickens will also have a diet of natural weeds, insects and other small creatures like lizards. Chickens will even eat small field mice.
The diet that is fed to battery hens, or caged hens has only grains and no emat or flesh. This is unnatural for a chicken – as can be seen with free range birds who quite plainly enjoy anything that moves and is small enough. A small poultry farm will even use table scraps for the chickens. Chickens, oddly enough, also eats eggs of other chickens. Whilst this should not be encouraged due to the birds acquiring the taste, and spoiling your egg crop, it is quite natural. The largest supplier of organic eggs and organic chickens have farms that grow organic chicken food and organic vegetables. Small poultry farmers can find suppliers and talk to other farmers at The South African Poultry Forum. Free range eggs are not organic eggs – this is a mistake that many consumers make when buying eggs – free range only means that the chickens have access to the outside, and does not have any regulations about what to feed chickens.