Frequently Asked Questions
GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE). This experimental technology merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.
We want to avoid GMOs because we are concerned about potential health consequences, unsustainable farming practices, unethical business practices and the gaping lack of proof that they are safe. In most of the developed world, GMOs are viewed as dangerous because the data to prove their safety simply does not exist.
We believe the onus of proof of safety is on the side of biotechnology and until then we choose not to support their use. We believe it is best to leave our food supply in the hands of Mother Nature. We also rigorously support the labeling of any GMO products so the American public can be informed as to what they are eating.
The verification seal indicates that the product bearing the seal has gone through the Non-GMO Project’s (NGP) verification process. Their verification is an assurance that a product has been produced according to consensus-based best practices for GMO avoidance:
- NGP requires ongoing testing of all at-risk ingredients—any ingredient being grown commercially in GMO form must be tested prior to use in a verified product.
- NGP uses an Action Threshold of 0.9%. This is in alignment with laws in the European Union, where any product containing more than 0.9% GMO must be labeled. Absence of all GMOs is the target for all Non-GMO Project Standard compliant products. Continuous improvement practices toward achieving this goal must be part of the Participant’s quality management systems.
- After the test, NGP requires rigorous traceability and segregation practices to be followed in order to ensure ingredient integrity through to the finished product.
- For low-risk ingredients, NGP conducts a thorough review of ingredient specification sheets to determine absence of GMO risk.
- Verification is maintained through an annual audit, along with onsite inspections for high-risk products.
Shopping organic is a great step towards ensuring that your family eats the healthiest foods possible. The challenge is that although GMOs are an excluded method under the National Organic Program, organic certification does not require GMO testing. Choosing products that are Certified Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified is the best way to make sure you are getting the safest, healthiest, highest-quality food for your animals and your family.
The chicken gizzard is the most powerful muscle in the body – but it can only do its job with the aid of the right sized grit. The more a bird is foraging – eating green grasses and bugs – the more grit it needs to process its diet and get the most food value out that free range goodness. Grit helps keep the digestion process flowing and reduces the chances of impaction.
Feed efficiency, the measure of how a bird utilizes and benefits from the feed, has been shown to improve by giving the birds free choice access to grit. Even pasture raised broilers can benefit significantly from the right sized grit in their diet, with heavier weights of up to a pound more at slaughter and less feed used per pound of gain. Layer feed trials have shown increased egg production by almost ten percent, and decreased the amount of feed needed per dozen eggs by about seven percent. Do the right thing by your flock – don’t leave grit up to chance! Head to our blog to read more about why chickens need grit.
Feel free to supplement their daily feed ration with either 3-Grain Scratch or Scratch n’ Corn. To promote a better conversion ratio and to help ensure that your birds are receiving the maximum nutritional value of their feed, consider the following mixture of grit and wheat.
Jeff Mattocks. “True Grit: the Lowdown on an Important Avian Supplement” APPPA Grit Issue 58 July-August 2010
“Consider offering whole wheat in a separate feeder mixed with grit, in a ratio of 4 parts wheat to 1 part appropriately sized grit. This will encourage the birds to eat more, increase feed availability and cut down on your prepared feed expense. You should not see any decrease in weight gains or feed efficiency. The birds love it! This can be started with turkeys at 8 weeks, broilers at 5 weeks and layers throughout summer when on good range as they will all balance their own diets pretty well.”
No. Medication found in starter feeds acts as a preventative measure to control Cocci – protozoa that cause Coccidiosis. Cocci are found virtually anywhere chickens are found. Chicks in small-scale flocks are routinely exposed to normal numbers of Cocci. That is good, as it triggers their immune systems to develop natural resistance.
Amprolium is the name of the medication used in chick feed to treat Cocci infections. If chicks need exposure to develop natural immunity we question the wisdom of routinely feeding medication to control the Cocci.
While chicks raised under highly stressful “factory” conditions would not survive without medication, it is not necessary for the well-managed backyard flock. However, it is not uncommon for an infection to occur with even the most well managed, clean and well fed backyard flock.
Since there is no demonstrated need for such additives we oppose their routine feeding “just in case”. Excess feeding of anti-microbials can lead to resistance on the part of bacteria which in the long run can make them less effective. They may leave residues in future eggs (despite industry reassurances to the contrary) and will eventually disperse into the environment with unknown, long term effects.
The best way to avoid Coccidiosis is to manage the birds’ environment. Keep it clean & dry and maintain feeders & waterers. Our feeds contain probiotocs to help bolster chicks’ natural defenses. Yogurt, buttermilk or raw milk can be used as well to build healthy, good bacteria in their guts for added benefit.
1-2 Tablespoons of raw, organic apple cider vinegar per gallon of fresh water aids in digestion and keeps the water clean of harmful bacteria.
If, by chance, your chicks become ill try offering them raw milk for about an hour each day for 5-7 days. The beneficial bacteria found in raw milk should help them recover.
Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) has long been hailed for its human health benefits and it can do wonders for your chickens too. It is made from nutritious organically grown apples and retains many of the fruits’ beneficial components because it is not pasteurized. The fermentation process produces enzymes and life giving nutrients that make ACV a powerhouse for you and your chickens! It is best to use raw apple cider vinegar containing “the mother” which makes the vinegar so beneficial. The “mother” is made up living nutrients and bacteria. You can see it settled in the bottom of the bottle like sediment which occurs naturally as strand-like enzymes of connected protein molecules.
Using apple cider vinegar in various ways around your flock and coop can do the following:
• Improve the digestive health of your chickens by maintaining proper pH balance in the digestive tract
• May increase egg production
• Kill germs that cause respiratory illnesses among chickens
• Keep your chickens’ water free of harmful bacteria
• Eliminate mold, mildew, dust, and odors from your chicken coop
• Disinfect your chicken coop and your chickens’ feeding and watering system
• Repel flies and ants
• Act as an abrasive for difficult-to-clean surfaces such as brooders, window panes, and cages.
Giving your chickens apple cider vinegar directly:
Adding apple cider vinegar directly to your chickens’ drinking water can help to maintain digestive health by lowering the pH in their stomach. It can also act as an antiseptic, killing any harmful mucus or bacteria in the throat that can cause respiratory ailments. Some folks report that feeding chickens apple cider vinegar increases egg production. To add apple cider vinegar to your chickens’ water use organic, raw, unfiltered, and unpasteurized vinegar, such as Bragg’s. Use four teaspoons of apple cider vinegar for each gallon of water. CAUTION: Never add ACV to a galvanized metal waterer as it will poison your chickens. Always use plastic!
Using apple cider vinegar to clean your chicken coop, feeders, and waterers:
You can use apple cider vinegar to clean your chicken coop walls, floors, roof, windows, feeder, and waterer. Just add a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to a spray bottle filled with water. The raw, unfiltered, and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar is always best, but for cleaning purposes, any type of apple cider vinegar will work. To clean with apple cider vinegar, just spray any dirty surface with your solution and wipe clean with a rag or towel. Frequent cleaning with apple cider vinegar will disinfect any surface and prevent mold, mildew, dust, and unpleasant odors from building up in your coop. Many homesteaders report that cleaning the chickens’ area with apple cider vinegar prevents flies and ants from congregating around chickens as well.
Using apple cider vinegar as an abrasive cleaner:
Apple cider vinegar makes a great abrasive cleaner for areas like cages, cracks, and brooders that may get particularly dirty but are difficult to clean effectively. Mixing apple cider vinegar with coarse sea salt will help to safely rub off any build-up on dirty surfaces. Or try mixing baking soda with a small amount of water to scrub surfaces thoroughly and then spray with an apple cider vinegar solution to disinfect.
If you have several chickens at various stages of development how should you regulate the feed? Chicks and developing pullets (not yet laying hens) can be harmed by the high calcium needed for egg production. Some chicken owners wonder how to avoid harming their growing birds without ending up with soft/no shell eggs from their laying hens. The Scratch and Peck recommendation is this: Feed according to the youngest members of the flock.
If you have young chicks, less than 8 weeks old integrated with an older flock, feed everyone Chick Starter. If your youngest members are Developing Pullets (growing and not yet laying) we suggest feeding everyone our Soy-Free Grower or Naturally-Free Grower. Provide free-choice Oyster Shell to the hens who need the calcium for their eggshell development. They will naturally self regulate their consumption of oyster shell and the pullets will begin eating it as their development progresses.
Once all birds are laying use Soy-Free Layer or Naturally-Free Layer as it contains the necessary calcium for proper egg shell development. Keep offering free-choice Oyster Shell and always offer free-choice Grit to all ages of birds!
First, we’ll preface this with a blanket disclaimer – all hens are different. Even the best of breeds will sometimes not accept chicks. Timing is important – best to use 5 day old or less chicks for the fostering – and do it towards the evening. Hold the chick in your hand, cupped up, and reach under the hen like you are going to steal an egg away.
Instead, you deposit the little bundle of fun, and repeat. Place chicks under the hen, never in front of her. Also, very important to do this with a hen who has exhibited a clear desire to hatch her chicks – to be safe, she should be broody for at least a week if not a little longer.
Evening hours are important because she is more relaxed. It also helps to have the broody in a pen that can be enclosed to prevent any chicks from wandering away that first night. Good luck!
The changes that happen in a seed when it sprouts are amazing. Complex compounds become simple compounds, vitamin levels rise, especially Vitamin C. The digestibility of the nutrients increases, allowing you to get more feed value for your dollar. Now spouting grains doesn’t result in a complete feed – you still need a well balanced layer ration – but will certainly benefit your flock, especially in the off season months. Depending on light conditions and temperature, it will take between a week to two weeks to grow your sprouts to a point that you can feed it. For chicks, it is best to feed when the leaves are 1-2 inches high. For adult poultry, 6 inches is the optimum height and level of maturity. Make sure you are feeding grit or have it available free choice, as the birds will need it to help process the grass and grains.
Turkey chicks need a considerably higher protein content than chickens. If you are raising heritage breeds we recommend a minimum of 28% protein; standard breeds at 23%.