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All-vegetarian chicken feed -- not good, right?

by 280 · August 17, 2013 at 10:03 PM

At the local co-op, all the different brands of eggs tout "all-vegetarian feed," as if that's something to be proud of. Is it? I mean, chickens aren't vegetarians, right? They eat bugs, worms, etc., in addition (I assume) to some grass, seeds, and other plant stuff. Is this "all-vegetarian feed" thing with regard to eggs just a bunch of hooey?

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8 Replies

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18889 · May 19, 2011 at 12:31 AM

No chickens are not vegetarian by nature. I have seen the chickens my family has kept catch and rip apart live mice and frogs just like little dinosaurs.

However comercial chicken feed typically contains recycled slaughterhouse waste from all types of animals. The grinding up and feeding of chickens that have died on the farm back to their fellow chickens is also know unknown.

It is avoiding this practice that vegetarian fed chickens refers to.

There is nothing inherantly wrong with feeding animal products to chickens, my families hens at home enjoy bits of left over meat and fat when they can get them.

However if you imagine a huge comercial slaughterhouse in the United States, would you want the left over scapings from this fed to your chickens?

"All-vegetarian feed" refers to the chicken feed that is provided for the hens, it does not really relate to bugs and grubs that the chickens might find to eat while free ranging outside if they are allowed to do so. The practice of labeling chickens and eggs as vegetarian fed can unfortunately give people the idea that chickens should be vegetarian.

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10 · August 17, 2013 at 10:03 PM

I was just told by the Meat Dept. Supervisor of WHOLE FOODS here in Las Vegas that ALL chickens are now fed CORN and SOY, incl. "free range" chickens. No wonder I and my dog both have become allergic to Chicken, and eggs....I am allergic to SOY as well, and that is hardly a natural feed for chickens is it??? It's disgusting when they finally got GRASS FED BEEF that they have these expensive chickens given this diet.

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10 · February 11, 2013 at 09:36 PM

i just want to throw out there that anyone whom thinks that the outbreak of mad cow was caused from them feeding sheep to the cows through the feed is incorrect.. through several tests that have been conducted they have NEVER found a sheep to have ever carried or been traced to spreading the virus. Actually this was caused by yes the feed that the cows were and (still) are eating its just been changed a little bit. back when the out break first hit it was because they were feeding cows to cows. the dead cows brain stems and spinal cords were being ground up and added to the cows food, but then the mad cow out brake happened and researchers concluded this was happening from feeding cow to cow, they instead decided it would be safe to just switch to feeding the dead cows to the pig and the dead pig to the cows.. not to mention all of the road kill thats added along with dead pets, expired grocery meat, growth hormones, puss, etc that are going into the feed. so not only are they forcing a NATURALLY VEGETARIAN animal into cannibalism. They are allowing this to be passed as acceptable food for americans.. WTF!!!?

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10 · November 03, 2012 at 06:01 PM

Yes, it is hooey! And how! Chickens eat meat and cows do not.

Feeding dead animals to cows is wrong. A cow would never eat meat by choice. A cow's stomach is designed to process grass and rouphage. Even cow's milk can only be processed by a calf's fourth stomach. When a calf's head tilts up to suckle the teat its throat elongates. Then the milk is able to bypass the first three stomachs and go straight to the fourth. Cows are not even designed to eat grain. When they do, they get a condition called acidosis and will die within 6 months of eating a grain-based diet. That's why feed lots can only house each cow for 2-3 months before sending it off to the slaughterhouse. If you want grass-fed beef, make sure it says "grass-finished" or "100% grass-fed" because technically all cows spend the first part of their life eating grass before they're sent to the feed lot. Better yet, go talk to the farmer!

Chickens, on the other hand, will always eat meat in the wild - even if it's from another chicken! They are built to be omnivorous. The thing that bothers me about "vegetarian fed chickens" is that it's become a USDA requirement to feed a 100% vegetarian diet if you want to sell certified organic chicken or eggs. Historically, chickens ate the scraps that a farm produced. No one would have raised them on a 100% vegetarian diet because they are much healthier with some meat in their diet!

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1127 · May 19, 2011 at 12:35 AM

Definitely a bunch of hooey. I am lucky to source my eggs from someone who "pastures" their chickens, meaning they get to eat all kinds of grass, worms, lizards and such. BUT this weekend I will be getting MY OWN CHICKENS!!! My husband built me a chicken tractor- a small coop and outer run that can be moved around the yard so they always have fresh grass and bugs to eat. If you really want to know where your food comes from and what it ate, you should consider backyard chickens. It's the perfect solution for us paleos in suburbia. You really don't need much space at all, and they keep your yard free of pests by eating them. You can feed them many of your kitchen scraps as well. This is a great website for more info, it's main focus is on the chicken tractors themselves, but also has great info for backyard chickens in general. www.thecitychicken.com

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0 · August 15, 2013 at 03:37 PM

I recently read an article about cows eating candy that was not healthy for human consumption? So if chickens eat animal by products, then they could be eating the effects of that kind of diet too.

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160 · May 19, 2011 at 01:28 AM

Not to mention that if one chicken gets a bleeding sore, the other chickens can and will sometimes, peck it ti death. In other words, cannibalism. Chickens are definitely not vegetarians.

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2369 · May 19, 2011 at 01:24 AM

While my chickens like their share of bird seed in winter, they will happily chase a bug or dig up a grub over seed any day in more temperate times of the year. I happened to find a bird seed that had dried mealworm grubs in it this winter. They went after the grubs first, then pecked at the seed (I use bird seed instead of scratch since they waste most of the wheat/barley/corn scratch). These birds also lay eggs with beautiful orange-yellow yolks.

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