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I want to know what "vegetarian fed" means? I see the label on lots of meat products. It seems kinda "duh" - don't all animals eat "vegetarian" grass or grains? Or do most farms feed "meat" to their animals? I don't get it.
What is your take on 'grain fed' chickens? Not ideal, but is it that bad?
Is pastured that much of a difference?
If they're fed a lot of grain, the balance between omega 6 and omega 3 in the eggs isn't good, as you guessed earlier. I've seen that instead of being about 1:1 it can be up to 19:1.
They do need those insects. (In fact, it's been said that even animals like cows that you don't think of as eating other than grass do take in some insects with it and probably benefit from that.)
The meat tastes better if they can have a more varied and natural diet and can run around a bit. In blind tests it has been found that some people prefer the flesh from the intensively reared birds, however - they've just got used to a softer texture and a more bland taste in their meat.
Besides, the conditions of chickens that aren't allowed plenty of access to open ground can be inhumane. A TV company has a couple of galleries comparing the lives of chickens. Here's the one on intensively reared ones:
I guess there's a problem from the point of view of the "primal" diet. Intensive-rearing is, of course, done to keep the price down. Sellers want maximum profit. And, of course, the ordinary person wants cheap produce but probably wouldn't want to think of farm animals in conditions that are inhumane (and injurious to the nutritional value of the meat). But out of sight, out of mind.
The solution that's often offered to people when they're told about the problem is to say, "Eat better meat but less of it." That chimes in OK with the current low-fat semi-vegetarian diets, but it's not particularly "primal". You've not only got the price vs. quality dilemma, but you've got to triangulate in "Have I got enough first-class protein/animal fat in the diet?"
I think if I had the room I'd probably keep chickens. It's another of those things everyone used to do - even some town-dwellers.
My chickens love bugs and have free-range of my place during the day. We close them up at night in their coop to protect them from foxes. I supplement their diet with bird seed. I do not buy commercial chicken feed because it is mostly wheat and they waste too much of it. It is the last thing they will eat if they have other choices. They are not adverse to eating leftover meats and they love veggies and fruits too. Pretty primal animal, all in all. I've seen them capture a baby snake and have quite a fight over who gets to eat it. Their egg yolks are a beautiful orange - not the pale yellow you get with store-bought eggs, even so-called free-range or organic eggs. And the taste is so much better. I keep two hens and a rooster. One hen is sitting on 4 eggs right now and I am hoping for more hens!
Chicken fat is much more polyunsaturated than beef or pork fat, up to around 25% poly. That means the grain-fed/natural-fed difference is going to have a much greater effect on total excess Omega-6 you're eating.
Chickens don't really eat grass, but they do need healthy grass, because the bugs that they do eat eat that grass. Since we've been having a drought here the eggs from my farmer have been getting more yellow and more of them are bad.
Chickens are a fundamentally jungle animal, bred originally from the red junglefowl. They are used to being in a jungle where it always rains a lot and there are tons of bugs and other stuff around. When you put them in non-equatorial latitudes that have droughts, the only way to keep them alive sometimes is to supplement with other types of feed.
That said, I've heard they will even happily peck the marrow out of chicken bones if you let them.
I can't let them free-range as I'd like to (they tear up my garden too much), but I pick them 10 gallons of mixed grass, weeds, and accompanying bugs daily. They love the stuff & it balances the omega 3's/6's in their eggs.
I also give them as many vegetable and fish scraps as my kitchen can produce.
And, sadly, I have to supplement some with commercial scratch grains to be sure they get enough calories. I try to keep this to a minimum, though.
Yes, chickens do eat grass, clover, sometimes other plant parts. They love my tomatoes However, their veggie eating seems to take second fiddle to insects and the like, which they really love and will search diligently for throughout the day. Unfortunately, that means that any mulch I put in my flower gardens is thoroughly scratched through and removed to the surrounding grass, so they can find the ants, grubs, earthworms below.
From the bird seed I feed them to supplement their diet, they eat the sunflower seeds first, then the millet, then the corn. In conventional chicken feed, they often ignored the wheat completely. I don't bother buying that anymore. Smart birds.
we have free range chickens and they will spend all day in the yard just foraging. They love eating all kinds of bugs and leftover food-stuffs. I think the chicken equivalent to grass fed beef is a truly free range bird. Also a good way to tell how healthy the bird is and what it was fed is to see the eggs. I was shocked when I first cracked open a fresh egg. The yolk was a dark orange, the way it was supposed to be!