click the above image to pin
Raising organic chickens for meat and eggs is not only a great way to provide nutritious and organic food for you and your family, but it’s also a rewarding and cost-effective hobby. Organic chickens are an excellent source of protein, and the eggs from organic chickens are proven to be healthier with a higher nutritional value than non-organic eggs. Whether you want to raise chickens for your family or for your small-scale organic farm, there are many factors to consider when starting.
In this post, we’ll discuss the basics of raising organic chickens for eggs and meat, including how to select the best breed, how to feed them for optimal health, how to care for them, and more.
Selecting the Best Chicken Breed for your Needs
There are several breeds of chickens to choose from, each with different characteristics that make them suitable for different purposes. When selecting a breed, consider whether you want to focus on egg production, meat production, or even dual-purpose breeds that combine both. Some of the most popular breeds of chickens for egg production include:
– Leghorns: These chickens are excellent layers, reliable, and can produce over 300 eggs a year.
– Rhode Island Reds: A dual-purpose bird, known for their ability to lay around 300 brown eggs annually.
– Plymouth Rocks: Another dual-purpose bird that is an excellent layer and fantastic meat bird, capable of around 200 brown eggs annually, and a weight of about 7 pounds at maturity.
When choosing a breed for meat production, some of the best breeds include:
– Cornish Cross: These birds are the most commonly raised for meat production in the US because they are quick-growers, have great taste, and have admirable carcass volume.
– New Hampshire Reds: A dual-purpose bird, these are an excellent chicken for meat and egg production, produce a fair number of eggs, grow large, and are highly-efficient.
Whether your focus is on eggs or meat, it’s important to select a breed known for having a calm temperament and good health.
Feeding Your Chickens Organic for Optimal Health
Organic chickens require a high-quality and balanced diet for optimal health and productivity. It’s crucial to feed them a varied diet of organic feed, insects, and organic kitchen scraps, along with access to a clean source of water. Organic chicken feed should be high in protein, vitamins and minerals and free from hormones, antibiotics, and genetically modified organisms. You can also supplement their diet with crushed oyster shell, which provides calcium for strong eggshells.
Free-range chickens can graze on pastures where they have access to weeds, insects, and grass that round out their nutritional needs. By allowing your chickens to graze during the day, you will decrease expenditures on feed, and support the nutritional requirements of your flock.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. See my full disclosure here. thebehhome.com/disclosure-and-policy/
Caring for Your Chickens
Raising chickens requires proper care for them to thrive. Some of the essential aspects of caring for chickens include:
– Housing: Your chickens will need a safe, clean, and dry indoor coop that provides adequate space for roosting, nesting, and playing.
Building Our CoopMy husband opted to build a coop instead of buying one. Where we live most store bought get wrecked in the wind.
– Grooming: Chickens love to groom themselves, but they also need help with grooming. This includes putting food and water in the right places, cleaning the coop and run, and ensuring they have clean and dry bedding.
– Prevention: Preventing diseases in chickens is a must. Keep predators away, clean the coop regularly to prevent diseases, maintain biosecurity, and protect the flock from rodents.
– Routine inspections: Regular inspections are necessary to monitor your chicken’s health, egg-laying abilities, and feed & water intake.
Harvesting Eggs and Meat
Knowing when and how to harvest your eggs and meat is essential. Egg production decreases as hens age, therefore, it’s best to harvest eggs daily. Keep in mind that the first and second-year hens are the most effective layers.
Meat chickens mature quicker than chickens raised for egg production. On average, it can take between six to twelve weeks for the chickens to mature, depending on the breed.
When it’s time to harvest your meat chickens, the process is straight forward and involves:
– Humanely killing the chicken according to your preferred method.
– Plucking the feathers (or removing the skin with the feathers intact)
– Removing the head, feet, and internal organs.
It’s essential to note that the process of harvesting meat can be emotionally challenging, so be prepared with the right tools and a plan if you’ve never done it before.
Marketing Your Chickens and Eggs
My kids & some neighbor friends selling honey from our backyard, homemade cookies, and eggs from our free range chickens
One of the benefits of raising chickens is the ability to sell the eggs and meat. You can market your organic chickens and eggs by setting up a farm stand, or joining farmers’ markets. Farmers’ markets and organic grocery stores are great places to sell organic eggs as they support local, organic and non-GMO products.
Raising organic chickens for eggs and meat is a rewarding way of life that provides your family with a steady supply of organic and nutritious protein. Raising chickens requires careful consideration when selecting the best breed for your needs, feeding them with high-quality organic feed, proper and preventative care for their overall health, and enlightened harvesting practices. With the proper resources and knowledge, anyone can successfully raise a healthy and productive flock of organic chickens at home.