The fight against GMOs is moving along nicely as more and more people are becoming better informed regarding the dangers of genetically modified organisms. We believe that in order to have healthy people, we need to have healthy animals, which is why they shouldn’t be eating GMOs either. Chickens are probably the most common animal for backyard farmers to raise, but do you know what goes into their diet?
Chickens Are Omnivores
Most people have this picturesque vision of a farmer tossing handfuls of grain onto the ground and a flock of hungry chickens crowding around him, pecking furiously. While this isn’t completely false, it’s certainly not the whole story.
Chickens are omnivores so they eat both plants and meat. They enjoy snacking on grubs and even bugs they find in the garden, so ensure that your chickens are outdoors where they have access to these protein sources in addition to their traditional diet of non-GMO chicken feed. (The bugs are probably non-GMO as well, so you should be good.)
In addition, these useful little birds are also fabulous for pruning weeds in a garden and picking up after cows. (Have you heard of the chicken tractor at Polyface Farm? Talk about sustainable farming!)
The Regular Fare
Because chickens are omnivores, they get a good deal of their nutrients through plants—that’s where we come in. According to Pastured-Raised Poultry Nutrition written by Jeff Mattocks, poultry and livestock specialist and VP of Fertrell, chicken feed typically includes the following:
- Corn – for energy
- Wheat – for energy and protein
- Oats or Barley – for fiber
- Fishmeal – for protein and amino acids
- Salt – for supporting body functions
- Soybeans – for protein
Obviously, this is a very basic list. Chicken feed will also include things like vitamins and probiotics to maximize chicken health, but in general, this is what chicken feed is composed of—and there are a lot of high-risk GMO crops in here.
Raising Non-GMO Poultry
The first step toward raising non-GMO chickens and eggs is to ensure that what you feed them is GMO-free. Because organic simply means that the growing process has been certified (and not the final product) we like to stick with non-GMO. Hiland Naturals is able to provide customers with feed that has been tested after it has been harvested, so there is no question about how safe it is for consumption.
Once you’ve got your chicken feed under control, make sure you house your chickens in a comfy space where they have easy access to all the bugs they could possibly desire.
Not too difficult, right? Raising non-GMO chicken is something that anyone can do. From the backyard farmer to the city dweller, no one is exempt from taking ownership of their eating choices, and with non-GMO chicken, you know that you’ve got chicken raised right. If you prefer to get your protein from the farmers market instead of your backyard, be sure to talk with the farmer who is providing your dinner to learn more about how they raise their poultry.