Chickens, Bugs, And Grubs! Oh, My!
The Truth Behind the "Vegetarian" Chickens
BYC Owners are always looking out for what is best for their flock
From online forums and communities to scholarly articles, BYCO are always looking for the best ways to feed their flock. Chickens by nature are omnivores. They eat plants and animal protein.
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In 2015 the Washington Post published an article titled "People love chickens that are 'vegetarian fed.' But chickens are not vegetarians." The article details how farmed chickens for eggs are fed soy and corn based diets with supplimented synthetic methionine. Methionine is one of nine essential amino acids. Essential meaning that the body cannot create this on its own and it must be consumed. While synthetic methionine isn't harmful, organic products are limited in how much methionine is allowed in commercial feed meaning the hens are left with a deficient diet.
The article also refers to natural chicken behaviors that occur when a chicken is left to forage on pasture. They scratch and dig up bugs and insects that can provide them with a variety of nutrients like calcium. They cite White Oak Pastures, a farm using black soldier fly grubs to mimic a natural diet for their flock.
- Chickens need essential amino acids provided in their diets. Many vegetarian diets cannot provide those organically.
- Chickens naturally forage for insects and nutritious grubs, which can provide key proteins and minerals to their diet.
- The more diverse a chicken's diet is, the more flavorful and beautiful the yolk.
Read the original article here.