As I’ve heard many chicken fanciers say, “if I want eggs to taste natural, I need to feed the girls natural food.” That said, the huge cost difference between commercial and organic chicken feed raises the question: “is there a difference?” Because of the food science surrounding chicken feed production, this is not an easy question to answer. It’s very complicated.
What Is Commercial Chicken Feed Made Out Of?
To understand the difference between organic and commercial feed, the first thing to know is what chicken feed is made of. Most chicken feeds contain complex mixtures of seeds and grains, such as wheat, barley and oats, as well as protein sources (such as soybean meal, low erucic acid rapeseed meal and sunflower meal), which are only used to scratch the surface. Basically, this complex recipe is designed to ensure that your choke coil gets enough of the essential proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals to ensure that they live a healthy and happy life.
What is Organic Chicken Feed?
People are becoming more and more concerned about the source of their food. They are asking themselves where did it come from? How was it raised?
Organic feed (including organic chicken feed) has strict regulations. It must contain organically grown grains. That means no pesticides or chemicals of any kind. These grains cannot be grown from or contaminated with genetically modified seeds. Allow the addition of non-organic, trace components such as vitamins, minerals, salts and amino acid methionine to organic chicken feed. Since protein sources must be organic, they cannot contain drugs, antibiotics or hormones.
Most farm supply stores offer a choice between organic chicken feed and conventional chicken feed. As with all other organic products, the cost will be higher. We each have to weigh the choices and make the decision that best suits our ideals and situations.
Is Organic Feed Better For My Chickens?
At this stage, there does not seem to be strong evidence that chickens eating organic feed is healthier or happier than eating commercial feed. Having said that, great efforts have been made to ensure that commercially fed chickens have all the basic nutritional needs they need. Interestingly, some chicken lovers have commented that their girls have looked ebullient since they switched to organic feed. However, at this stage there does not seem to be any clear scientific evidence.
As far as organic vs non-organic… It really depends upon your personal convictions. It’s doubtful that you will see any difference in performance or health of your hens. The draw to organic is that some feel it is more “environmentally friendly”, as organic grains are raised without synthetic herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers. There are some that feel that these chemicals can be passed on through the food chain (from grain, to hen, to egg, to you) so they opt for the organic feed.
So What The Point?
One of the main benefits of buying organic chicken feed is that it is a more sustainable, green way to raise chickens. Organic chicken feed does not rely on synthetic and environmentally harmful chemicals to grow. This, in turn, helps improve the environment and is ultimately a great benefit to all of us (including your chickens).
Whatever type of feed you decide to use, you deserve credit for making the world more sustainable by simply caring for chickens. Although there is no clear evidence at this stage that organic chicken feed is better for your chicken, why not switch for a few weeks and just see if mood or egg quality changes. Another thing you can try is to create your own organic chicken feed at home. All these sustainable approaches contribute to improving our environment, which is an important issue for all of us.