We have our first “organic” question with our animals. Do we vaccinate our egg-laying chickens or not. We have decided to try our hand at egg-laying hens. We have decided to go with a heritage breed to do our part in supporting these endangered breed of animals. The importance of heritage breed of animals is that they are “… hearty, long-lived, and reproductively vital birds that provided an important source of protein to the growing population of the country until the mid-20th century.”
As a conservative homesteader with an eye on defensive self-sufficiency (retreat) the value to me is that heritage breeds are naturally mating, long, productive outdoor lifespan and hearty. These breeds tend to be able to live outside well all year round. They can live out a normal life span and if you put a boy and a girl together eventually they can reproduce on our homestead if we want. These points are important to me. God gave us these animals and plants to care for. Part of this gift is that both plants and animals will reproduce for us, for free. New hybrid breeds of both animals and plants often have companies involved in their reproduction. This seems to me a rejection of God’s gift. Thus I am very interested in heritage breed of animals.
The heritage breed of egg-laying chickens we are initially trying, partially because my daughter thought they were pretty and a good neighbor of our has had great experience with them is the Plymouth Rock or “Barred Rocks” (after the most popular color of these birds). It came from cross breeding the Dominiques and Black Java breed of chickens. The Barred Rock is a dual-purpose (small meat or egg-laying), cold-hardy bird and I think it will make a great breed for our small homestead experiment.
Any way we went to order these locally and come to find out many tractor supply stores only stock chicks once or twice a year. Thus we went online to find them. It appears that Murray McMurray has a pretty good reputation. When ordering them Murray McMurray asked me if I wanted the chicks vaccinated. Now we normally vaccinate children only after they are older (at least one year), and limit the vaccinations to those we considers life-threatening. But I have no ideal of the risk of vaccinating animals. I mean we are opposed to antibiotics and hormones in general in our food in general, but vaccinations may be useful? If you envision the worse TEOTWAWKI case scenario all of your food producing animals become some of the most valuable things you own. You want them as protected as possible. One point of data is what the government says. The USDA says you can use vaccines and the chickens still qualify as Government Approved Organic. Specifically the National Organic Program standards
§205.238 Livestock health care practice standard.
(a) The producer must establish and maintain preventive livestock health care practices, including:
(6) Administration of vaccines and other veterinary biologics.
I acknowledge that the government’s position are often well thought out by a bunch of well educated people. However I also know that the government is overrun with a bunch of authoritarian one-world globalist, anti-life, christian hating progressives. These people do not like traditional Christians and do not want us to thrive. Thus this is only one data point which we must take with a grain of salt. Plus these animals are for our family, not be sold under the “Government certified Organic” program, thus the USDA guidance is just that, something interesting to consider.
In looking through the blog-o-sphere I see a lot of people coming down on either side of “…are vaccines good for organic food producing animals.” One significant issue that was raised was vaccines made with “prohibited” material or GMO vaccines. One part of the government the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) has recommended tightening GMO vaccines to another part of the government the National Organic Program (NOP) and provided the information “This recommendation concerns the class of livestock vaccines derived from excluded methods, commonly called GMO vaccines. There are approximately 73 registered animal vaccines, of which13 are GMO. Only 2 vaccines, Bovine and Avian Salmonellosis, appear to be presently available only as GMO.” I have asked Murray McMurray if the vaccines they are selling are GMO or not. They seem to still be researching. Of note it seems that the NOSB is filled with some good freedom loving individuals including our friends from the Montana Organic Association (MOA) deep in the Redoubt.