Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Vegetarian Chickens?

At left, Betty says, "Where's the beef?"

Since I began raising my own chickens in April, I've paid a bit more attention to the packaged meats I buy at the grocery store. For instance, I never really paid attention to the fact that factory butchered poultry is injected with a saline solution to promote juiciness. So that's how they get that pre-salted flavor!

Today while preparing a package of chicken thighs for the grill, I read the label. It came from a local grower, Miller Amish Country Poultry. The upper left hand corner of the wrapper read, "...fed an all-vegetable diet* and are hormone and antibiotic free." I'm all for the hormone and antibiotic free, but since when did chickens become vegetarians? In addition to fresh grass and grains, my chickens eat worms, insects and frogs for cryin' out loud! They get the fat trimmings from pork and beef as well. If I fed my chooks an all-vegetable diet they would knock me down and peck my eyes out!

Have we gone and flipped our lids? Why do we feel the need to deprive an omnivorous creature of its natural diet? There seems to be a notion that feeding chickens "animal by products or fats" is a bad thing. I eat animal by products and fat every day! I'm an omnivore!

This just enforces the fact that I prefer to raise my own food. I want my birds to free range and eat whatever their little hearts desire (except my pansies). I like knowing that they spend their days doing what chickens do best: foraging for their own food.

I'm going to start my chickens on an all-vegetable diet...I'm going to feed them nothing but vegetarians.

*The all-vegetable diet consists of "a mixture of corn, soybeans, minerals, salt and vitamins that is mixed at our own feed mill and there is no animal by products, animal fats or coloring added, never."


  1. I guess the only thing that worries me about commercial feed containing meat/meat by-produts is what exactly is in the by-product portion of it. It can include some pretty scary stuff. I feed mine Purina Start & Grow and they free-range and get all the yummy bugs, worms and toads/frogs that their little chicken tummies can hold. I also give them meat scraps. I do agree with you that they need that kind of diet, I just prefer that the chickens find it with a little help from me.

  2. The thing that I always wonder about these claims is...do they follow the chickens around and snatch bugs & worms from their little beaks? Or are they battery-raised, and just fed "organic" feed? Eh, whatever. I think that the "vegetarian" trend in organic poultry came about in response to consumer's concerns about mad cow, and misunderstanding about how that situation came to be.

  3. The only way I can see they know they are vegetarian is to strictly control their environment, so that would mean no foraging. So caged chicken vs. foraging chicken. Know which one I'd pick. Loved your comment, "I'm going to start my chickens on an all-vegetable diet...I'm going to feed them nothing but vegetarians." Too funny!


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