WHAT DOES ORGANIC MEAN FOR OUR POULTRY PETS? - TREATS FOR CHICKENS
Hi, there chicken parents and poultry keepers, Dawn here!
Just like at Treats for Chickens, everyone is paying more attention to the labels noted on their pet’s food. We see the word “organic” everywhere– Organic Ingredients. USDA Organic. Certified Organic. Organically Sourced. Mixed with Organic Ingredients. I know I do! Organic has moved beyond produce and is on all sorts of different items-- chips, yogurt, coffee, even baby food!
Like you, when shopping for organic, I search for keywords online (Google or Chewy). You may find yourself typing: organic chicken treats, organic treats for chickens, organic worms for chickens, treats for chickens organic, plants for chickens, etc., to find healthy options for your poultry. Alternatively, organic is not only seen in consumption but also practiced. Maybe you are a chicken parent that uses their flock to keep hungry bugs and invasive weeds at bay (if your dear feathered friend does not eat the garden goodies) instead of using chemical pesticides. Either case, the organic market is thriving.
At Treats for Chickens, we pride ourselves on being one of the only (and the first) manufacturers of organic chicken treats, organic supplements, and organic herbal nesting box blends! Which is essential to our small business. However, I know it can be confusing (trust me, it was for me, too!) what organic means and entails. I figured I'd write up an organic post about what the term means and why it’s important to us here at Treats for Chickens.
Who are these Organic Agencies I see?
The National Organic Program (NOP) “is a federal regulatory program that develops and enforces consistent national standards for organically produced agricultural products sold in the United States.”
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) “is the federal executive department responsible for developing and executing federal laws related to farming, forestry, rural economic development, and food.”
NOP and USDA “work together to enforce the standards, ensuring a level playing field for producers and protecting consumer confidence in the integrity of the USDA Organic Seal.”
What Does Certified Organic Mean?
A product with the USDA organic seal (label) has been certified by the United States Department of Agriculture standards. USDA states that organic “methods integrate cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity.”
There’s a lot of suuuuper tedious paperwork and rigorous inspections needed to get that essential little green label. We've been doing it since 2013!
Check out this informative-- and super interesting-- USDA labeling graphic. It not only explains what the USDA Organic label means but also what all the other USDA labels mean.
What Makes Something Organic?
According to the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) website, all produce that does NOT use:
- sewage sludge
- bioengineering (GMOs)
- ionizing radiation
- and most synthetic pesticides and fertilizers
I mean, sewage sludge? Gross. I’ll take chicken poop any day.
Producing organic ingredients is a highly time-consuming task. The seeds utilized and the ground on which they are grown must be certified organic. To raise and market the goods as organic, the farmer (producer and grower) must get organic certification. Human labor is more demanding since they do NOT use or near that awful stuff. The finished product must be transported and handled separately from regular produce. It makes sense why organic ingredients are generally more expensive. Care costs.
Our pet poultry deserves an A quality. Thus, Treats for Chickens are 95+% ORGANIC!
Fellow poultry parents and chicken keepers, it is always vital to read the label and see what is stated is reflected, and of course, research the product labels to make sure. Here is CCOF (Certified Organic) Organic Labeling Guidelines infographic, CLUCK HERE. It explains the different levels of organic labeling and details its importance and where Treats for Chickens stands.
Be on the lookout for the circle USDA Organic label or products that list Made with Organic Ingredients.
Getting Certified Organic as a Small Business
As stated above, certified organic chicken treats, nesting herbs, and other products must be free of additives such as pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or other 'foreign' substances. This may sound simplistic, but in fact, it is a very labor-intensive and expensive endeavor. From the farmer/grower to the supplier and the business requires special attention to the whole process. Currently, Treats for Chickens has four products that are certified organic Chicken Crack, Cluck Yea, Cluck'n Sea Kelp, and Nesting Box Blend. But also several products "mixed with organic ingredients," meaning the ingredients are organically sourced (farmer, grower, or supplier is certified), but the whole product has not gone through the USDA process just yet, such as Gourd I Love You or Chick Chick.
Why have some of the Treats for Chickens' products not been certified organic despite having organically sourced ingredients? The cost. Paperwork, testing, annual upkeep, etc., hit small businesses' wallets. We are hoping for change.
GMOs? Not at Treats for Chickens!
About three decades ago, GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) began appearing in the food supply. Manufacturers and chemical companies began genetically modifying seeds to change their attributes. These GMOs are plants created through gene splicing techniques. For crops, the intentions were to increase pest resistance or be more drought resistant. Although… not to be a nosy bird, some large corporations have questionable practices, to say the least [I’ll leave it there]. The most common GMOs in the poultry world are soy, corn, alfalfa, and yellow squash.
That’s why, for example, corn that is organic and non-GMO is not entirely uniform. Corn may be a different color, shade, or size for various reasons: weather, environmental conditions (humid or dry), and anything else mother nature can come up with.
By purchasing organic and Non-GMO ingredients [or some delicious organic chicken treats ;) ], you aren’t supporting “sewage sludge” business practices and mentalities. You are putting positive energies into something meaningful- helping small and local farms, growers, friends, economies, and businesses. That feels sooo good!!!
Natural Means Organic, Doesn't It?
Nope, natural does not mean organic.
A product that's labeled "natural" doesn't really mean anything.
Unlike the labeling for organic, which requires extensive paperwork and oversight, "natural" can pretty much be put on anything- natural chicken treats, natural sea kelp for chickens, natural nesting box blend, etc. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) hasn't ruled on the issue but has greatly encouraged only products that have "nothing artificial or synthetic... has been added to a food that would not normally be expected to be in food" to be labeled as natural.
“It has nothing to do with manufacturing methods or pesticide use-- like organic labeling-- and instead mostly a buzzword. It's a worthless indicator on the manufacturing, methods, and environmental impact of a product.”
The term natural is frequently marketed and entirely unregulated by the FDA. Unfortunately, we need to do our homework with our pet food and cannot rely on a glance at the label for some brands. This becomes especially important for us backyard chicken keepers who feed our family, friends, and community with fresh eggs that our egg layers lay.
Treats for Chickens
September is Organic Month!
Behind every pecking of organic treats your flock eats or nesting their fluffy bums in an organic herbal nest blend, there's an organic farmer, an organic supplier, or an organic innovator to thank. The Soil Affiliation launched a month-prolonged advertising campaign in September 2013 called “Nationwide Pure Month” or “Pure September.” Soon after, September became Organic Month, a month-long campaign to raise awareness of the many benefits of organic food and farming, including supporting biodiversity, wildlife, and local organic products.
Selecting organic and non-GMO ingredients is a lifestyle choice that filters substances that your feather beauties simply don’t need in their diet. With several advantages, from healthier pets to a safer environment, and a few disadvantages, such as supply limitation and the price tag, organic has a positive direction. Ahnd our feathered friends appreciate our efforts. Bhutt and a big one, deciding to buy and use organic ingredients, organic chicken treats, organic vitamins, and organic nesting instead of conventional is a personal one.
Hopefully, you have a better understanding of what organic means and why it's essential to Treats for Chickens! I continue to put a lot of time and effort into designing healthy products that are organically sourced so you and your chickens and other fowls (our dear turkeys, ducks, geese, swans, quails, etc.) can have the best experience possible.
-Dawn, Treats for Chickens
Originally written October 2020
Hungry for more feathered friend improvement? Of course, you are because your flock deserves special treatment. For fabulous and health poultry year around, Treats For Chickens recommends:
Thank you to CCOF and USDA for the organic labeling and seal information! And, of course, thank you to the best organic educators, suppliers, and farmers. They know their soils, their customers, and the environment!
Have other suggestions? Questions? Leave a comment below!