Think you’d like to go organic with your flock?
First, consider the following pros and cons (and then check out the multitude of chicken terms below).
“Organic production requires a little bit more work, planning, management, time and observation,” says John Foster of Oregon Tilth. But organic chicken production offers significant rewards:
1. Organic production is healthier for our environment. In order to raise organic poultry, you need organic feed, says Foster.
“That means more land put into organic production and sustainable management, reducing the amounts of pesticides and fertilizers used.”
2. Organic chickens integrate well with other organic enterprises. If you already raise organic berries, apples or another crop, an organic chicken flock can allow you to diversify while assisting with weeding, mowing and pest control.
3. Organic retail sales are increasing 20 percent or more each year. There’s money to be made if you’re located near a good market and can build a loyal customer base by educating buyers about your growing methods, says California-based farmer Paul Hain.
Raising chickens organically also means committing to specialized management techniques, as well as to more time and money. Understanding and accepting the challenges are key.
1. Organic feed. It costs more and is harder to find than conventional. For example, only three organic feed mills operate in Ohio*, notes farmer Denise Anderson.
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