Sign up for the
Weekly Harvest Newsletter!

Published every Wednesday, the Weekly Harvest e-newsletter is a free Web digest of sustainable agriculture news, resources, events and funding opportunities gleaned from the Internet. See past issues of the Weekly Harvest.
Sign up here

Sign up for the Weekly Harvest Newsletter

What Is Sustainable Agriculture?

Master Publication List

Search Our Databases

Urban Agriculture

Energy Alternatives

Beginning Farmer

Field Crops

Horticultural Crops

Livestock & Pasture

Local Food Systems

Food Safety

Marketing, Business & Risk Management

Organic Farming

Pest Management

Soils & Compost

Water Management

Ecological Fisheries and Ocean Farming

Other Resources

Sign Up for The Dirt E-News

Home Page

Contribute to NCAT


Newsletter sign up button

· Privacy Policy · Newsletter Archives

RSS Icon XML Feeds

RSS 2.0: Events, Breaking News, Funding Opportunities Atom: Events, Breaking News, Funding Opportunities


NCAT strives to make our information available to everyone who needs it. If you are a limited-access or low-income farmer and find that one of our publications is just not in your budget, please call 800-346-9140.


How are we doing?


Home  > Question of the Week

Question of the Week

Permalink Can I transition my poultry to organic production?


Answer: Thank you for requesting information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, regarding organic poultry production.

Regarding the source of organic poultry, the national organic standards are as follows:
§ 205.236 Origin of livestock.
(a) Livestock products that are to be sold, labeled, or represented as organic must be from livestock under continuous organic management from the last third of gestation or hatching: Except, That:
(1) Poultry. Poultry or edible poultry products must be from poultry that has been under continuous organic management beginning no later than the second day of life;

This means that you may purchase day-old chicks that have been produced from conventional hens. The chicks must be managed organically starting in the second day of life, even if you are only selling the eggs produced by those hens. You mentioned that you already have 100 chickens and ducks. They can not be converted to organic, and their eggs may not be sold as organic. If you decide to convert your flock, you must start with newly-hatched birds.

One important aspect of organic management is the use of organic feed. Regarding the use of organic feed:
§ 205.237 Livestock feed.
(a) The producer of an organic livestock operation must provide livestock with a total feed ration composed of agricultural products, including pasture and forage, that are organically produced and handled by operations certified to the NOP,…

This means that organic chickens must be fed organic feed, and they must be provided with access to the outdoors. The outdoor land area must be certified organic, which requires a 3-year transition period. More specifically, the land is eligible for organic status 36 months after the last application of prohibited fertilizers or pesticides.

If organic animals eat their bedding, it must also be organic. Regarding the need for organic straw for the chickens:

§ 205.239 Livestock living conditions.
(b) The producer of an organic livestock operation must establish and maintain year-round livestock living conditions which accommodate the health and natural behavior of animals, including:
(3) Appropriate clean, dry bedding. When roughages are used as bedding, they shall have been organically produced in accordance with this part by an operation certified under this part.

This means that the animal bedding must be organic if the chickens are eating it.

For more information see the publication Organic Poultry Production in the United States.



« What information can you give me on NRCS native pollinator programs? :: What information can you give me on when I should apply compost? »


No Comments for this post yet...

Question of the Week Archives