Hey guys, Farmer Paul here. When we first started the farm, I was following Paleo and wanted to produce a 100% grain free chicken, and set out to do the research on making that happen because nobody was doing it. The more I dove in, the more I learned that healthy grains are a species-appropriate food for omnivorous monogastric animals like chickens. They are NOT a species appropriate food for herbivorous multigastric ruminants (aka cows).
Even in their wild environment, their predecessor the red junglefowl (pictured above), forage for grains. A key reason for this is the special and unique organ that poultry possesses called a gizzard. The gizzard actually sprouts and stone grinds the grains to make them fully digestible to their system.
All of this is completely different than ruminant herbivores such as cattle and sheep. Their species appropriate diet is grass only, they do not have a gizzard, and grains are totally toxic to their system. That's why all beef and lamb should be 100% pasture raised, grass fed, and grass finished with zero grains.
In our Chicken Processing Workshops, students get to see firsthand what their chickens had been eating by inspecting the gizzard. You’ll see mostly grass and a yellow grainy substance. While the chickens spend their days foraging for grass, bugs seeds and worms, we provide a supplemental feed that includes species-appropriate grains. All of the feed we use is milled locally and completely free of any drugs, antibiotics, or weird additives.
The grain in our supplemental feed makes up part of our chickens’ diet, otherwise consisting of bugs, grass, organic alfalfa, wheat, limestone, diatomaceous earth, grit, and other natural ingredients that chickens feed on in the wild.
So instead of looking for 100% grain-free everything, look for animals that live outside on pasture 24/7 and are eating a species-appropriate diet. For beef and lamb, that species-appropriate diet means zero grains; for chicken ad pigs, that's some quality grains as part of a varied omnivorous diet.
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