Feeding Limits on Farmed Animals and Nutriton


Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

Years ago, my mother would complain that chicken in Romania smelled and tasted of fish because they were feeding fish to the animals.  Most of my family has a difficult time enjoying chicken for various reasons.  Including me.  I can't stand the smell or taste of non-Organic chicken and during the pandemic the smell of certain meats disgusted me.  I know from experience that I can't be vegetarian or vegan anymore (I was for over 12 years), but I still have a difficult relationship to meat eating.

I need to brine all fowl before I consider it edible.  Only turkey rarely triggers a disgust reaction for me.  But that's fresh turkey, not lunchmeat turkey.  Later I noticed that a lot of meat in the supermarket claims "vegetarian fed" and that bothered me because I know that chickens and pigs are omnivores.  Even horses have a legendary affinity for meat as an occasional treat.  That seemed so unnatural to me, I asked several local farmers about it.  I mainly got rumors in response, or just standard operating procedure, and not a reason why.  I finally found the answer, so I'm sharing it with you.

Feeding fish or meat to other animals has a complicated history.  First it can concentrate nutrients, and second it can concentrate toxins, or pass on illness from one animal to the next.  Depending on which of these you focus on, it can be demonized or applauded.  But I finally found the reason why many farmers I've spoken to have the opinion that animal protein can't be fed to farmed animals.  It's not true, not completely.  And the reason for it is recent.  

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE): feed controls

 I thought it best to include the archived link in case this article "ages" and the link is broken in the future.  That link focuses on the EU regulations. The next one is from the CDC and references US and Canadian regulations:

CDC Feed Bans (US and Canada)

Here's a simpler explanation from a chicken farmer in the EU who explains that you can feed mealwoms you raised yourself to chickens, but not industrially raised mealworms (or bait), what the alternatives are, and why:  Why is it illegal to feed mealworms to chickens?

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So it's not just a rumor but it's also not forbidden, just more regulated.  I've heard farmers talk about rules of feeding animals and I've asked for clarification because certain animals require omnivore diets.  I also think that raising animals in an unnatural way is harmful to the humans eating the food later.  But until now I wasn't able to find the actual regulations or why they were instituted.  I don't think it's a bad idea to regulate it, but I also think the regulation has been overstated, probably to force farmers into buying industrial feeds for pigs, with higher "protein content" but still vegetarian.   

Complaining about regulation is a reflex action in some circles.  We should all be careful of hyperbole.

I think this is vital information for people with an illness that limits the absorption of nutrients.  While it's true that a gluten free diet limits or eliminates this problem for people with Celiac Disease, such a person can't be certain that they will never get in contact with gluten.  It's an ongoing risk.  

I think we need to study nutritional value of foods more closely and try to live as close to a "farm to fork" life as possible for our best health.  It's hard for me to make claims such as "small operation, family farmed food is healthier" without a lot more data to back that up.  But it's what I believe and what many also believe.  Food is a basic need and I'm surprised we don't pay more attention to its quality.  Food becomes politicized instead of studied for its nutritional value. I hope that can change in the future.


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