Saturday, April 1, 2023

Night Owl Farm: ✨Farm Fact Friday✨

we're talking chickens diets and clever (misleading) marketing

✨Farm Fact Friday✨

This week we're talking chickens diets and clever (misleading) marketing 🐔

I've had some people ask me questions recently about what chickens eat, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to write about it!

Chicken's Natural Diet

Chickens are naturally omnivores (meaning they eat meat and plants), which may come as a surprise to many! Many egg cartons in the stores proudly promote their hens as being "vegetarian fed."

Commercially raised chickens used to be fed animal by-products along with their grains, but around the time of mad-cow disease in the 90s, one farmer took advantage of a marketing opportunity, and it stuck.

This is extremely common in the food world where marketing will create a variety of misconceptions. Another example of this is the phrase "cage free." I could go into this one for hours, but in short, instead of being in cages, the hens are packed in a giant warehouse, often leading to hens being trampled. Technically cage-free though! Even "free-range" doesn't mean what it used to. Happy to talk about that one for hours too 😉

In reality, chickens are supposed to be out in the dirt and plant life, digging for worms, eating leaves and seeds, finding bugs, and even eating small mice and snakes. This is what their diet is supposed to look like. If left to their own devices, they would even pick at any dead carcasses they might find.

What We Feed Our Hens

We don't go around throwing rotting carcasses to our chickens, nor do we feed chicken to our chickens. (Although they *can* eat chicken without the same repercussions as mad cow…. I cringe at the idea)

We do, however, support their natural biology. Our hens are not vegetarian fed. They are able to roam outside, dig for worms and eat lots of bugs, even catch a few mice here and there.

Our chickens also receive quite a bit of our food waste, which may include bones with scraps of meat on them, tomato sauce with ground meat in it, or similar items. This is good for them to have as it gives them the proper protein they need in order to provide us with stunningly healthy eggs! These lucky ladies also receive LOTS of organic produce right from the farm 😊

The vegetarian feed birds are given often include soy as a protein source. This is not a natural food source for chickens, and they would not seek it out if they were dropped in a field of soy. It's taxing on their digestive systems, and has negative long term effects on the overall health of the chicken. (Think of someone who eats Cheetos as their main food source… not great) However, it's a cheap protein source, so it's often used in feeds to save money. It's the same idea as feeding cows corn. It gives you the desired end result (fatty meat and lots of eggs) but it doesn't provide the quality of life the animals deserve.

This is why we feed what we feed - we want our animals to have best, healthiest life they can. Our feed doesn't contain any soy, so our birds need a different source of protein, which is why we allow them to forage and be the way nature intended them to be.

Or feed is certified organic from a family farm in Vermont (Green Mountain Feeds) and we are proud to support them.

So next time you see "vegetarian fed" on a carton, you'll know the truth behind the marketing!

Night Owl Farm eggs

Night Owl Farm · 49 Prospect Street · Franklin, MA 02038 · USA

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