“What are considered “Organic Eggs”? I am using Layer type pellet feed at the moment, I have never used antibiotics that I know of. I have used scratch in the past, but see nothing in the layer mix that would be considered un-organic. What hoops do you have to jump though to be organic certified? Thanks,” ~ Glenn Young
This question is harder to answer than it should be.
The difficulty comes into play because our newsletter reaches so many parts of the world. Each governing agency, if it so chooses, will determine the definition of “organic” for itself. In many places, you cannot legally use the tern “organic” unless you have received certification from the governing agency.
Requirements typically involve rules for organic production and set standards for growing (feeding in the case of chickens,) handling, processing (cleaning eggs) storage, packaging and delivery to the consumer.
For the sake of discussion, let’s look at some of the things that would effect the qualifications to be certified.
First of all, if your chickens are eating only commercial feed, it must be organic. Any feed that has been certified will proudly display “Organic” in it’s advertising. However, check the label thoroughly.
If your chickens receive home rations there may be more to consider than you’d think because anything that goes into your chickens will determine if they are indeed producing organic eggs.
For instance, do you ever give your chickens kitchen scraps? Is everything that comes out of your kitchen organic?
Do your chickens eat from plants that have been treated with a pesticide or an herbicide? This includes your vegetable garden, flower beds and any plants they have access to.
What about fertilizer?
Have you ever thought about the fact that manure can contain a remnant of whatever the animal ate? Is there a chance that the cow received growth enhancement? What about the cow’s diet? Was it organic?
You see, this can all get very involved very quickly.
I had a wonderful conversation with a gentleman today who produces crops for organic feed. He shared with me some of the things that are required of him to qualify for his organic certification. Mind you, these are just a few of the requirements he must meet.
The ground on which a crop grows must be free from any non-organic chemical usage for 3 consecutive years before it can even be considered for organic certification.
An attempt must be made to locate organic seed, which is not readily available.
Any organic input used in production must be thoroughly documented.
The trucks that deliver the grain must have a clean out affidavit. This means that the cleaning process for each vehicle must adhere to specific guidelines before grain is placed in them.
An annual inspection is performed by a certification agent.
Very stringent record keeping is required including documenting the source of fertilizer and the application dates.
The facility that processes and packages the product also has very stringent requirements.
For instance, there may be separate handling facilities for organic and non-organic products or a very strict cleaning process must be adhered to between processing organic and non-organic products. This is determined by the type of product being produced.
So as you can see, in my part of the world there are a lot of hoops that you must jump through to receive an organic certification.
It would be awfully hard for a back yard farmer to meet all the necessary requirements.
However, a marketing statement such as “natural” does not carry with it the same stringent requirements as “organic.”
If you plan to use a statement like “natural” though, please keep in mind the points we’ve discussed here regarding everything that is part of your chicken’s diet. Let’s always operate with the utmost integrity.
Thanks for the question Glen, I hope this is of help.
Have a Wonderful Week,
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