There are hundreds feed manufacturers around the country from small mom and pop operations all the way up to the well-known name brands with seemingly unlimited advertising budgets. Always try to find a feed mill who makes it fresh, with the highest quality local ingredients available.
No brand of feed is “best” for everyone, and if one was, that would be the only feed on the market. That being said, the old adage “you are what you eat” holds a lot of truth in it. Residues of everything your animal eats are contained in their meat and, in the case of birds, their eggs. So if you don’t want to eat it, don’t feed it to the animal producing food for you.
What is the difference between Conventional, Non-GMO, and Certified Organic Feeds?
The main difference here is not necessarily what is in them, but what is not in them. Conventional feeds are made from grains produced using modern agricultural methods. Typically, but not always, employing the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (Grains) and chemical herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers. This allows the price to stay as low as possible. Non-GMO feeds are still produced conventionally, but contain no Genetically Modified Grains. This usually means that a much lower amount of herbicides are used since Non-GMO crops can’t withstand them and survive. Organic feeds must be produced from grains grown on a certified organic field (no chemical herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers for at least the previous 3 years), they must contain no GMO grains, and they must be milled in a certified organic feed mill. This is why organic feed is more expensive, you are paying for higher costs of production by employing organic farming techniques and all the required government certifications which guarantee the absence of chemicals and GMO’s.
What are “GMO’s” and why should I be concerned about them?
GMO is short for Genetically Modified Organism. In agriculture, genetic modification is used to increase yields, to strengthen resistance to pests or disease, and to make them unaffected by common herbicides. There are many different reasons people object to the use of GMOs, from general principle to the risk of “genetic drift.” Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are created unnaturally by merging the DNA of plants, animals, viruses and bacteria. Certain crops have been genetically modified to resist the direct spray of herbicides and to produce a protein that repels insects. Of these genetically modified crops, soy is at the top of the list. According to the USDA over 90% of soy grown in the US is genetically modified. Because GMOs are relatively new, no one really knows what the long term effects will be. The “Non-GMO Project” reports that the use of chemical herbicides have increased 15 times since the introduction of GMOs. Practically speaking, crops which have been created specifically to be resistant to herbicides are more likely to have been sprayed by those same strong herbicides, meaning they will likely contain residues of them, which are then consumed by humans or by animals and then passed to humans. I don’t know about you, but a nice bowl of breakfast grains marinated in non-selective herbicide doesn’t sound very good for me.
Why do some people not want to consume or feed soy?
Not only is soy on the top of the GMO list, but there are other concerns as well. Soy contains phytochemicals called isoflavones. Studies have shown that isoflavones can mimic the body’s estrogens. This has potential problems for both men and women. In men, soy has been shown to lower testosterone levels. In women, soy can potentially throw off the body’s normal hormone levels which can create an assortment of problems.