How am I trying to raise my chicks all natural, organic, GMO-free, and antibiotic free?
Why I feel it is important to start my chicks off as natural as possible? What you put into them, you will get out when they start laying. If they start with a healthy immune system and have eaten nothing but natural organic food that is antibiotic free and GMO-free, they will pass the healthy benefits to their eggs. Which you consume and eat as well. So, if you are feeding the crappy and processed food that is loaded with chemicals, you will end up eating the same chemicals and bad stuff that your chickens are. Everything is connected in our food chain, you are what you eat. You eat healthy food, you become healthy.
So where to start? Well since I am new to raising chickens and just recently started, I am not claiming to know everything or a professional chicken raiser. In theory, based off of lots of research and what I am currently doing, only time will tell if what I am doing is good or bad. So far, I have already made a mistake. Best advice I can give you… Know your goals and what you want your end result to be, do your research, and LISTEN to your gut.
In theory, everything born pretty much doesn’t have much of an immune system or digestive gut health. So, how does one go about increasing baby chick’s immune system? Starting out with a good feed starter. I would recommend the Naturally Free Starter from Scratch and Peck. Initially, when I went to pick up my chicks from the feed store this is what I was going to get. But from much pressure and nah-saying from the store attendant and being a newbie that lacked confidence in my research and newly found knowledge, I was half convinced to get another brand. The store attendant suggested I get the medicated chick starter, which I declined and got Purina® Organic Starter-Grower. Still organic, but it was processed. I ended up kicking myself in the butt and went back and got my Scratch and Peck Chick Start feed. So, now I have two feeds that I need to get rid of. So what I am doing is mixing them, half and half.
After you have your feed you can start to ferment your feed and slowly get your chicks used to eating it. I didn’t have a problem with picky chicks not wanting the fermented food. Mine absolutely devours the fermented food first and then eat the dry mixed food until I give them more fermented food. Why is fermented food good for your chicks, in short response it provides beneficial enzymes to help digestion, adds beneficial probiotic, and increases the nutrient content from the food, so they need/eat less. For my chicks’ water, the feed store had them on chick/chicken probiotics which I have them on, but just a little bit of that, and I add Apple Cider Vinegar and a little piece of a garlic clove to their water. The first couple days I had them on plain Greek yogurt mixed with hard-boiled egg yolk with some chick feed soaked in water. I did this up until my fermented feed was ready (about 3 days). I will occasionally give them a little bit of yogurt mixed with dry food, cooked rice, or plain oatmeal. (Honestly, just trying to get rid of the little yogurt cup I bought at the store and don’t want it to go to waste.) When I noticed our sick chick (refer to Beginning Our Chicken Adventure post) I did an oregano tea for their water for 24 hours. Oregano is known to be a natural antibiotic. Looking into the future… Going to get my chicks to eat fresh/dried oregano to their feed.
There is a lot of nah-sayers out there that say not to feed your chicks anything but their special chick starter food. (How B-O-R-I-N-G!!!) So, I look to nature to see what should be done. Honestly, mother Hen has those chicks scratching around in the dirt and the great outdoors pretty much from day one. I think, why not mine? I have been providing them with the best digestive enzymes and probiotic out there. Why not some added beneficial soil microbes and actual bugs and worms? Granted we are still in mid-February where temps haven’t been getting above 50 degrees during the day. But I figure at least 10-20 minute breaks to be actual chickens won’t hurt. (If they start to show signs of stress or too cold they go back inside.) So far, they love it and I haven’t seen any negative effects yet. Another thing that I do is, since it is spring there is an abundance of chickweed in my garden beds. (They don’t call it chickweed for nothing.) It has a high nutritional value, which is high in Vitamin C, GLA an omega-6 fatty acid, vitamin B2, B1, vitamin A, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, manganese, sodium, selenium and silica. Chickweed is known for its soothing, healing and natural pain relief properties. I give this to my chicks about every other day. I make sure to rip it into small pieces so they aren’t gagging on the long pieces of it, like how you would if you tried to swallow a spaghetti noodle without chewing. With this, once you start feeding them stuff other than their boring old formulated food, you need to be sure to offer free choice, chick grit.
Looking into the future… building the coop, and just enjoying the moments of chick-hood.