Occasionally we are asked if our Naturally Free Organic Starter contains medication, and the answer is a solid no. We believe a healthy diet and a clean environment are the most important things for a birds’ health.
Here’s some backstory on why some starter feeds do contain medication. Cocci – the protozoan that cause Coccidiosis – are found virtually anywhere chickens are. While chicks raised under highly stressful “factory” conditions would not survive well without the medication, called Amprolium, it is not necessary for the well-managed backyard flock. Chicks of small flocks are routinely exposed to these normal numbers of Cocci. Just as babies, chicks also need a certain level of exposure to help develop natural immunity.
We question the wisdom of routinely feeding medication to kill Cocci. Excess feeding of antimicrobials can lead to resistance and a reduction in overall effectiveness. Medications may also leave residues in future eggs and can disperse into the environment with unknown effects.
The most effective way to avoid Coccidiosis is to maintain a clean coop. Our feeds contain probiotics to help bolster chicks’ natural defenses. Yogurt, buttermilk or raw milk can be added to build healthy, good bacteria in their guts. In addition, 1-2 tablespoons of raw, organic apple cider vinegar (ACV) per gallon of fresh water aids in digestion and helps keep the water clean of harmful bacteria. Make sure not to use ACV in galvanized steel containers!
In regard to ducks, they eat (and drink) more than chickens and have different development phases, requiring slightly adjusted feeding guidelines. From day 1 through week 4, our Naturally Free Organic Starter is a great choice. You’ll notice an increase in growth (and food consumption) at week four, so protein should be decreased to the level of Naturally Free Organic Grower. On average, ducks will begin laying eggs at around 20 weeks so you may switch them to one of our Organic Layer with Corn or Naturally Free Organic Layer feeds around 18-20 weeks of age. If raising broilers (meat ducks), feed your ducklings Naturally Free Organic Grower from 4 weeks to finish at around 8 weeks. NEVER feed ducklings a medicated starter because they eat more than chicks and can potentially overdose from the medication.
We prefer to stay away from the risks that come from using medicated feeds, and instead prefer natural preventative remedies and going Organic from Day 1. We encourage you to do the same!