Pasture Raised Chicken Does Not Equal Organic
At Jehovah Jireh Farm we raise our chickens and eggs on chemical free pastures and with certified organic chicken feed. Chickens are not ruminates like cows and cannot live on grass alone. They need an additional feed source.
We have noticed that some people assume that all pasture raised chickens and eggs are organically fed. This is not true.
Chickens in the warm months of the year eat about 20% of their diet from the pasture: grass, worms, and bugs. 80% of their diet is a carefully balanced chicken feed. The majority of the feed is grain. In the winter months the percentage of the diet from the pasture decreases. One farm pulls the laying hens off the pasture and houses them in a confinement setting all winter and still calls the eggs pasture raised.
On pasture based farms that do not use certified organic feed, approximately 70% of the chicken's diet is chemically produced grain. The chickens or eggs are not organically produced and it is not even close. Organic feed costs about twice as much as conventional feed. For us to get the same profit margins as these farmers we would have to charge you significantly higher prices.
Be alert to some of the following terms:
"Natural local feed" usually means chemically produced grain, possibly even genetically modified grain.
"Grown without hormones or antibiotics" does not mean the grain is organic. The grain can still have pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
"Free range" means the chickens have access to the outside. It can also mean that a door is merely left open on a large confinement house to a dirt yard.
"Free roaming" means the chickens are packed together on the floor of a large dust and ammonia filled confinement house.
On some farms the land is certified organic but the chickens are fed feed with chemically produced grain because it is half the price. It is important that you are an educated consumer. Do not assume that chickens or eggs are organically fed, just because they are on pasture.