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Feeding Small Poultry Flocks Organic Diets Without Synthetic Amino Acids

Organic diets cannot contain meat meal or other animal by-products as sources of protein. Synthetic amino acids can be used to as alternative sources of this protein. Some organic certifying organizations, however, no longer allow the use of synthetic amino acids. The following diets have been formulated with these ingredients excluded. The resulting diets should be considered "survival" diets with little room for error. Birds fed these diets may have poorer feathering, fleshing and uniformity. Under stress conditions, they may be more prone to cannibalism and stunting. Birds fed these diets grow much slower and eat more feed to get to the same body weight as birds fed organic diets containing synthetic amino acids. For growing chickens and turkeys, the deficiencies in these diets will be most noticeable in the first six weeks of age. In laying hens, egg size and egg production will be lower. Birds grown on these diets may produce nitrogen in their manure and greater care may be needed to prevent nitrogen pollution.

This factsheet is a supplement to the web page, Organic Diets for Small Poultry Flocks.

1) Diets for Meat-type Chickens

When synthetic amino acids are not included in the feed of growing meat-type chickens, the protein quality of the ration is difficult to maintain. The protein quality in the diets outlined below is poor compared to the needs of birds as they grow and produce feathers. After the birds reach six to eight weeks of age, their need for protein declines and the protein quality in these diets will become adequate to meet their requirements. The total levels of soybean meal, roasted soybean seed and peas in the diets are much higher than needed if synthetic amino acids were used. As a results, the diets are more wasteful of these expensive sources of protein.

Organic Diets for Growing Chickens1

Ingredients

Ration with Soybean Meal

Ration with Peas and Roasted Soybean Seed

Amount, kg/tonne

Wheat

768

578

Soybean Meal

192

0

Roasted Full-fat Soybean Seed

0

222

Peas

0

158

Limestone

10.8

11.5

Dicalcium Phosphate2

17.1

17.1

Salt2

2.0

2.4

Vitamin & Mineral Premix2,3

10.0

10.0

Total

1000

1000

1Caution: These diets do not contain a coccidiostat to control coccidiosis. 2Some organic producers purchase a premix that will supply the dicalcium phosphate, salt and vitamin & mineral premix. 3The vitamin-mineral premix should be added at the rate recommended by the manufacturer.

2) Diets for Egg-Type Chickens During Egg Production

When synthetic amino acids are removed from laying hen diets, the birds will likely produce smaller and fewer eggs. Under some circumstances, mortality due to diseases such as Hemorrhagic Fatty Liver Syndrome may be increased. These diets outlined below rely on the hens having a healthy appetite to consume enough feed to supply their protein needs. If the strain of hen used does not eat a lot of feed or other factors such as heat stress reduce feed intake, more problems will be noticed. Under stress conditions, the birds may be more prone to cannibalism.

Organic Diets for Hens in Egg Production1

Ingredients

Layer Diet
(soybean meal)

Layer Diet
(roasted soybean & peas)

Amount, kg/tonne

Wheat

744

526

Soybean Meal

150

0

Roasted Full-fat Soybean Seed

0

147

Peas

0

220

Limestone

83.9

83.1

Dicalcium Phosphate1

10.5

11.2

Salt1

2.6

3.0

Vitamin & Mineral Premix1,2

10.0

10.0

Total

1000

1000

1Some organic producers purchase a premix that will supply the dicalcium phosphate, salt and vitamin & mineral premix. 2The vitamin-mineral premix should be added at the rate recommended by the manufacturer.

3) Diets for Growing Turkeys

Throughout their life, turkeys need more protein in their diet than chickens. Removing synthetic amino acids from turkey diets will present the same types of problems as with growing chickens. The body weight and level of fleshing of turkeys can be severely reduced on low protein diets.

Organic Diets for Growing Turkeys1

Ingredients

Turkey Starter

Turkey Grower

Turkey Finisher
(soybean meal)

Turkey Finisher
(soybean meal & peas)

Amount, kg/tonne

Wheat

490

590

752

586

Soybean Meal

398

310

212

172

Roasted Full-fat Soybean Seed

62

0

0

0

Peas

0

62

0

205

Limestone

14.0

10.4

9.7

9.8

Dicalcium Phosphate2

24.1

14.9

14.3

14.3

Salt2

2.9

2.8

2.6

2.9

Vitamin & Mineral Premix2,3

10.0

10.0

10.0

10.0

Total

1000

1000

1000

1000

1Caution: These diets do not contain a coccidiostat to control coccidiosis. 2Some organic producers purchase a premix that will supply the dicalcium phosphate, salt and vitamin & mineral premix. 3The vitamin-mineral premix should be added at the rate recommended by the manufacturer.

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