Vegetarian Fed Chickens

The commercial layer when I was a kid was a Leghorn so the eggs in a super market were all white. When I tried raising them I found them to be heavy producers but far too nervous for my tastes. Then brown eggs started showing up. My theory is that large postulation of adults and chicken left the farm and farm eggs were mostly brown.  brown for me conjures up warm memories of mothers or grandmothers whom gathered eggs for breakfast or for yummy fresh hot cookies that were served as an after school treat with milk. Not my mother or grandmother but my friend’s mothers and grandmothers. Back then most mothers stayed home and Rhode Island Reds were very popular in our area.

Remember when doctors told us that eggs were bad for us and caused heart attacks? People quit eating them or went to egg whites with almost no nutrition in them. The egg industry dive bombed. Out came Omega – 3 rich eggs on the store’s shelves.

When living conditions of commercial egg layers was revealed, Free-Range eggs showed up in the market until it was discovered that meant a minute patch of dirt in the sunshine, not a lush green field.

I’m now greatly entertained in the grocery store. I’m known to inspect your cart if you pull up next to me when we line up at the cashiers. I try to be discreet but since I only visit a few isles in the store, I have no idea what’s on the shelves. This is a sneak peak. What you buy says so much about you. There was this health conscious lady who pulled up behind me and she had every fad item of health food that you could imagine. I applaud her for trying but she was seriously gullible and I could not help but burst out in a quiet laugh when I saw vegetarian fed on the label of her egg carton. That was new for me. In case you didn’t know – chickens are omnivores. They eat meat and plants.

The giggle came from images of my Mighty Mo Super hens I had years and years ago. They’d huddle in a circle around my coop’s grain feeder. Eyes intent on the base and feather duster white butts raised in the air. I’d call, “Hut, hut, hut” and lift the feeder. Their heads worked like pistons as the exposed mice raced for holes in the old coop as if their lives depended on it and they did. Those chickens were the best mousers. The furry bundles became game balls for a contest of keep away. They worked hard to retain their prize with dodges, fakes to the left or right, that would make a quarterback envy.  Some game balls slipped from a beak on a snatch and scurried to safety. Others met their demise. No…. Chickens are not vegetarians. They love bugs, worms, and yes, small creatures like mice who are attracted to grain.

Mice are a large financial loss in commercial operations because of the amount of grain they eat and the disease they carry so like bugs they are kept at bay. Then what happens to these protein deprived hens? They fall short of the essential protein based amino acids known as methionine and without it they fall ill. Far worse is that they will turn on each other to find that protein and peck a gouging hole in another hen and then all will feast until she dies. In a confined area it can turn into a blood bath as desperate hens search for needed nutrients.

For chickens who are omnivores, vegetarianism is a disaster.

“They are really like little raptors – they want meat,” said Blake Alexandre, the owner of a 30,000 chicken operation in far northern California that keeps its birds on pasture. “The idea that they ought to be vegetarians is ridiculous.”

The vast majority of those organic vegetarian fed chickens are fed a ration of corn and soy beans that is supplemented with a synthetic version of methionine.

That might sound like a reasonable solution but the methionine is synthetic and not from an organic source or even remotely natural. The federal program limits how much farmers can feed their flock and the amount is far too low causing harm to the chickens.

Don’t be gullible. A label is just a gimmick to get you to buy. Advertisers know what buttons to push to evoke a certain reaction and they will use it to sell a product. Rarely does it tell the whole story. Half-truths make things simplistic and simplistic sells.

2 thoughts on “Vegetarian Fed Chickens

    1. The idea of a chicken being a vegetarian is rediculous for those of us who have raised chickens for many years but those poor people who live in the city have no idea how hornswoggled they’ve been. All the while they are patting themselves on the back thinking they are doing a good thing – sad, sad, indeed.

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