Free Range Chickens

Naturopathy Yarraville
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April 26, 2016
Walking to improve poverty and injustice around the world
April 26, 2016

Last month saw me investigating our “free range” chicken.  Like myself you may have come across the news that a major retail chicken supplier, feeds their chickens genetically modified ingredients.  Below is the companies Facebook page response to its customers:

“We’ve received a number of comments from you around GM feed for our chickens.

At Lilydale, we have a policy to feed our free range chickens a nutritious, vitamin enriched diet that includes seeds, grains, peas and canola. In addition to the diet, the birds are free to forage for fresh grass during daylight hours. Currently we are unable to source all non-GM ingredients for Lilydale feed due to a range of factors including the source and seasonal nature of some crops used in components of the feed.  Our nutritionist sources the best possible feed for our chickens to make sure they meet our strict quality standards.”

I discovered that the only chickens not to be fed this GM feed are in fact organic chickens.

Chickens in Australia eat soy as part of their feed.  Soyabean meal, canola meal, meat and bone meal primarily provide the protein.  Soy is in fact one of the world’s largest genetically modified crops.  Chicken feed is made up of 85-90% grains, such as wheat, sorghum, barley, oats, lupins, soybean meal, canola and other oilseed meals and grain legumes.  International grain prices affect the cost of production significantly and interestingly only 5% of grains grown in Australia are purchased by the chicken industry.  So our great farming country, imports 95% of the ingredients that are fed to Australian chickens.

The Australian Chicken Meat Federation Inc states, ‘The optimum and most economical combination of feed ingredients that meets the strict nutritional specifications….is selected by ‘least cost formulation’ computer programs.  The dietary formulation will therefore vary with changes in the availability, price and quality of specific feed ingredients..’

An example of a typical chicken feed:

Composition of a Typical Broiler Feed %
Wheat 45.0
Sorghum 25.0
Soyabean Meal 12.0
Canola Meal 8.0
Meat & Bone Meal 7.0
Tallow 2.0
Lysine 0.3
Methionine 0.2
Vitamins & Trace Minerals 0.5


Interestingly free range chicken meat accounts for only 10 to 15% of chicken produced.  What I found surprising was less than 1% of the total production came from organic.

Organic farming methods are totally against anything to do with genetic modification.  I mention to my patients all the time– buy organic whenever you can.  It’s not just the free range chicken but also the free range eggs.

Rebecca Screen
Naturopath & Health Coach