The number of “backyard” poultry flocks is increasing. More and more people desire to grow their own poultry for meat and eggs. Some of these people want to maintain an organic classification, which is not easy to accomplish. One of the major concerns is the use of feed additives. The following information discusses a proposed rule concerning the addition of methionine in “organic” poultry feeds.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture published on Feb. 6 a proposed rule that would continue the allowance of synthetic methionine in organic poultry production but at reduced levels from the levels which are currently allowable.
The current allowance for synthetic methionine expires on Oct. 1 and allows 4 pounds per ton of feed for laying chickens; 5 pounds per ton of feed for broiler chickens; and 6 pounds per ton of feed for turkeys and other poultry.
The proposed rule would permit organic poultry producers to use synthetic methionine after Oct. 1 at maximum levels of 2 pounds per ton for laying hens and broiler chickens and 3 pounds per ton for turkeys and all other poultry. Methionine is classified as an essential amino acid, and is required for proper cell development and feathering. Poultry animals cannot biologically produce methionine on their own.
The proposed rule reflects the recommendations of the National Organic Standards Board, an independent body of organic industry and stakeholder representatives that advises the Secretary of Agriculture on aspects of the USDA organic regulations. The board determined that the proposed reduced levels of synthetic methionine, developed in consultation with animal welfare experts and nutritionists, are sufficient for poultry maintenance, but do not enhance animal growth.
The recommendation is designed to continue to provide for the basic maintenance requirements of organic poultry, satisfy consumer preference to reduce synthetic methionine use, and allow the organic poultry industry time to research and develop commercially sufficient sources of allowable natural methionine.
For questions or comments, contact James Parsons, area specialized poultry extension agent at North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at 910-671-3276, by email at James_Parsons@ncsu.edu or by visiting robeson.ces.ncsu.edu.