What's the Deal With "Vegetarian Fed"?This is a question that crops up a lot on BYC. Often enough that I decided to create a static page to point people towards. Saves me the typing! The "vegetarian chickens" issue comes from two directions:
- Eggs and chicken at the grocery store labeled "vegetarian fed."
- Chicken feed labeled "no animal protein/vegetable protein sources only."
So what's the deal?
The deal is, you have two choices:
- A feed based on vegetable proteins, ideally with those missing meat-only nutrients added. (Purina's Layena SunFresh , for example, is made from vegetable protein sources but includes lysine and methionine.)
- A feed which contains "animal protein." Note the "air quotes."
- Ground up downer cattle (cattle too sick to stand - the FDA says you can't feed downer cattle to people, but the USDA says it's legal to put them in animal feed).
- Feathers, bones, bodies, feet, and offal from battery hens. These are hens which are raised in cages the size of a shoebox. When they die, they are likely sick, malnourished, and pumped full of antibiotics. Antibiotics and other medications are definitely passed into the feed, and illnesses can be.
- Plastic. Many rendering plants receive spoiled styrofoam and plastic wrapped cuts of meat from grocery stores. Since unwrapping the meat would be time-consuming, typically they just dump the whole thing into the grinder, plastic wrap and all.
- Soiled bedding (chicken poop and sawdust) from chicken feed lots.
- Cattle and pig manure.
- Cats and dogs euthanized at animal shelters, including the chemicals used to euthanize them, and any medication the animals were on prior to their death.