Chickens that are raised outside on lush green pasture ( pasture raised chicken) are nutritionally superior to chickens that are raised with soy additives, even if certified organic, and sold in grocery stores.
Over the past 3 years we have transitioned feeding our chickens, ducks and turkeys from conventional feed (we did that for about 6 months), to Non-GMO and in the past two years have used strictly Certified Organic No Soy and No Corn based diet for our birds. It is expensive. It costs a lot of money to feed chickens right. ….but like I said, we want to do this farming thing the right way….So why don’t we feed our chickens soy?
The Truth About Chicken Eating Soy
According to the FDA’s Database, Soy is listed as a poisonous plant and unfit for healthy eating, especially for animals.
Soy is not something a chicken would eat in the wild. First the soybeans are processed for oil (an unhealthy but cheap cooking oil), and then the fiber that is leftover is toasted and fed to the chickens. I guarantee you that no chicken would harvest soybeans, pick off the fiber and toast it. Farmers who let their chickens roam freely in the soy fields, find that the chickens will eat bugs, but they do not touch the soy plants!
Chicken fed with Soy will experience the following:
Chickens who eat a soy and corn-based diet do not absorb manganese well.
Chickens that are fed isolated soybean protein will have iron deficiencies and need to be given iron supplements.
Isolated soy protein causes a Vitamin E deficiency and higher mortality rates than feeding casein (a milk protein) to chickens.
Soy and corn-based feeds are selenium deficient and lead to pancreatic atrophy in chickens unless they are supplemented with selenium.
Soy-based chicken feeds create a zinc deficiency in chickens, leading to leg problems and abnormally formed bones. Chickens who are fed soy have such tremendous zinc and calcium deficiencies (because the soy depletes these minerals from their bodies) that if their feed were not supplemented with zinc and calcium, the chickens would be more likely to die, less likely to produce eggs, less likely to hatch, etc.
Soy contains high levels of phytoestrogens, which end up in their eggs and meat. There are phytoestrogens that occur naturally in many foods, including eggs, cheese, and soy. The levels of phytoestrogens in soy are significantly higher than any other food, though. Chickens who are pasture raised have much lower levels of phytoestrogens than chickens who are caged up and fed a soy-based feed.
Chickens that are fed a soy-based diet have phytoestrogens in their tissues and eggs.
Soy’s phytoestrogens cause many health issues for humans
Soy costs more than its sticker price
Soy is one of the main crops in the United States that is government subsidized. If a farmer does not sell all of his soybeans, it doesn’t matter–the government will pay him anyways. The reason soy animal feed (and processed foods for humans that contain soy) are so cheap is that about 70% of the true cost of growing soy is getting paid for by the government. So, soy is artificially cheap. You don’t pay for it at the feed store or in the grocery store, but you do pay for it in your taxes. Everyone does, whether they want to or not. We’re all paying for soy to be produced.
Soy is bad for the environment
“Soybeans are arguably the most environmentally offensive agricultural crop in the world.” –Small Footprint Family About 20% of the Amazon rain forest has been cleared, mostly to grow GM soy. GM soy was created so that the soy plant itself would not be damaged by toxic pesticides and herbicides. These toxins leach into the soil and water and impact the vegetation and animal life in the area. In days past, soy was grown as a “green manure crop” only and then tilled into the ground for soil fertility. Nowadays, GM soy is grown for human and animal consumption and it is destroying the biology of the soil. Because of GM soy, there are now “superweeds” that are resistant to strong chemicals like Round-Up.
Pasture Raised Chickens — The Way Nature Intended
Pasture raised chickens, on the other hand, are raised outside in bottomless pens that are moved daily to fresh green grass in their pasture. The pens protect the young birds from predators while allowing them to roam and feed. In this environment, the chickens scratch the ground and eat bugs and worms and seeds along with their grain. They enjoy the fresh air and sunshine that the outdoors provides. Their manure is spread over the entire pasture as they move around which fertilizes the soil and keeps the pasture lush and green for each subsequent year’s rotation.
Health Benefits of Pasture Raised Chickens
1. Chemical-free meat. Because of how enclosed free-range chickens are commercially raised they are washed with heavily chlorinated water which leaves a chemical residue on the meat. Pasture-raising is a more sanitary method of raising chickens and does not require heavily chlorinated water washing.
2. No antibiotics. Pasture raised chickens are healthier (no overcrowding, natural environment, etc) which translates into healthier meat. Chickens raised on pasture do not need antibiotics or other medication to keep them alive.
3. Higher Omega-3s. Pasture-raised chickens have been shown to contain up to four times the amount of omega 3 fatty acids, as compared to free-range chicken’. They also have the proper ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Together that means eating pasture-raised chicken makes it easier to balance the essential fats in your diet. To learn more about the essential balance of Omega 3s and 6s, read The Omega Diet by Simopoulos and Robinson, HarperCollins 1999.
4. More vitamins. ‘Pasture raised chickens have more vitamins E, C, and beta-carotene’.
5. Tastes better. Pasture-raised chickens are tastier than commercially raised free-range chickens. Just ask chefs of high-end restaurants.
So after all of this, what do you think? Should chickens eat soy? Should you?
- –The Proteolytic Inhibiting Substance in the Extract from Unheated Soy Bean Meal and It’s Effect upon Growth in Chicks
- –Human safety and genetically modified plants: a review of antibiotic resistance markers and future transformation selection technologies
- –Quantification of Soy Isoflavones in Commercial Eggs and Their Transfer from Poultry Feed into Eggs and Tissues