Spring is upon us and as the earth comes back to life, we see images of chicks all over the place. Since ancient times, chicks hatching from eggs has been a symbol of spring. Today, the adorable, fluffy little creatures can be found on candy wrappers, baskets, and even in the plush form. The chickens are just as adorable in real life. For families and farms that raise chickens—whether it be for eggs or for meat— it’s important that their animals grow to be strong. For these farmers, the chicks only get the best organic chick starter feed so they can grow to be beautiful, healthy chickens.
Why You Need Chick Starter Feed At All
Just like baby humans, baby chickens need a little extra in their food to help keep their immunity functioning at a high level. Chicks are at risk for a disease called coccidiosis. Because each baby has been wrapped in its shelf for so long, it hasn’t been exposed to the vital bacteria that are essential for good digestive health. Its little belly can’t handle the same types of food that an adult’s can, so you must provide her with the proper nutrients for growth with organic chick starter feed.
Chickens have different nutritional needs during different points of their development just like people do. While many farmers attempt to create their own organic chicken feed, it’s typically better to leave it to the professionals so the proper balance of protein and nutrients is reached. (Plus, there are some specific guidelines that must be followed for feed to be considered organic!) Giving a chicken the wrong kind of feed could adversely impact her development over time, which will negatively affect her meat and eggs down the road. That’s not what we want!
As the chicks reach their “teenage” years, the primary concern with chicken feed changes. The younger chickens primarily need a nutrient-rich feed that helps boost their immunity, and the older chickens need high levels of calcium in their systems. The later is essential, of course, for the production of high-quality eggs.
When To Switch Off Chick Starter Feed
Chicks can switch over to regular organic chicken feed after they hit 18 weeks. The layer feed they consume at this point is laden with calcium which will fortify their eggs. Hens without proper calcium in their diets use the calcium from their bones when laying eggs, which of course makes for sickly hens. Before this “teenage” stage of a chicken’s development, calcium can actually cause permanent damage to vital organs, so it’s important to hold off on regular layer feed until they are old enough to lay eggs.
The age at which a chicken begins laying can differ greatly from bird to bird—and some may never lay at all. These chickens need a considerably lower amount of calcium in their diets.
Raising GMO-Free Chicken
Small and large farms alike understand the importance of raising healthy, GMO-free chicken. More and more people are concerned with what they are putting into their bodies, and as a result, they are also concerned about what is being put into the food they consume, which means GMOs are quickly going out of style.
Furthermore, the mass production of meat is making cruelty toward animals (especially the ones we eat) rampant in the United States. As the truth regarding the treatment of animals comes to light, more and more people are fighting back and demanding organic, GMO-free chicken.
In order for chicken to be considered organic, it must meet the following criteria:
- Must have outdoor access. (No small, yucky cages for our organic chicken!)
- Cannot have hormones, antibiotics, or drugs of any kind.
- Cannot be fed animal by-products, GMO-grains, or products produced with pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
Why wouldn’t you want your food to be free of harsh chemicals and unnatural products? Organic chicken is the obvious choice for your table and for those tables that you provide for with your livestock.
The Case Against GMOs
The genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that are used to make crops strong enough to withstand attacks from herbicides can be very harmful to humans. They increase the need for more and more herbicides as the bugs and weeds grow accustomed to and adapt to fight off the chemicals. This is causing a decline in biodiversity around the farms that use them; butterflies and amphibians in particular have been negatively affected.
What we need to pay particular attention to is that genetic engineering can harm the plants themselves. People who argue in favor of GMOs will tell you that because people aren’t eating these chemicals, they won’t be affected. Unfortunately, the chemicals to make their way from plant to animal to person. Numerous scientific studies have connected GMOs to the rise in chronic illnesses such as cancer, food allergies, and reproductive disorders.
This is why we do so much to help farmers raise GMO-free chicken.
Support The Movement
You can eat healthier, and you can encourage others to eat healthier too! The first step you can take is switching your hatchlings over to non-GMO chick starter feed. When they reach a safe age, you can change them over to regular non-GMO chicken feed, which will insure that your flock grows up to produce the best eggs and the highest quality meat.
Hiland Naturals is a verified provider of the Non-GMO Project. Check out their website to learn more about GMOs, how they affect the environment, animals, and ultimately, you. On the Non-GMO Project website you can also find verified products, retailers, and restaurants. There’s also lots of ways to get involved if you are as passionate about being GMO-free as we are, and the Non-GMO Project can point you toward opportunities where you can make a difference.
Today you can support the movement by making all of your chicken feed GMO-free, and Hiland Naturals will support you with a full line of exceptional non-GMO chicken feed options including chick starter feed, to get your flock looking, feeling, and tasting fantastic.