Why Eat Soy-Free Meats
The primary benefit of feeding your chickens soy-free chicken feed is that the eggs they produce (and that you eat) are less likely to contain allergens and elevated hormone levels associated with soy.
The dangers of over consumption of soy are becoming more widely recognized. Historically, people have considered soy a good source of protein. However, research indicates too much soy can have a negative impact on our health, growth, and development.
The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act recognizes soy as one of the eight most common allergies (about .2 % of the US population).
Soy is rich in phytoestrogens specifically isoflavones Daidzein (DZ) and Genistein (GE). Phytoestrogens are the plant version of estrogen. Significant research was performed around the benefits of these soy byproducts as an alternative to Hormone Replacement Therapy. Historically, many women experiencing the side effects of menopause were treated with Hormone Replacement Therapy until studies demonstrated that hormone replacement therapy increased the risk of breast and endometrial cancers.
Soy isoflavones were then introduced as an effective and less toxic alternative.
Now, there are substantial indicators that increased usage of soy in our diets may have negative impacts. One study found in the FDA’s Poisonous Plant Database links the possible connection between phytoestrogens, milk, and coronary heart disease. The study indicates that isoflavones and plant phenols resemble non-steroidal synthetic estrogens, like diethylstilbestrol, which have atherogenic properties (leading to increasing build-up of cholesterol in arteries).
Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that when phytoestrogens were consumed by lactating cows, the estrogenic substance is passed to the consumer of that milk as well.
Without going into every study, it is important to know that there is ongoing research about the potential negative impacts of the over consumption of soy in our diets. Such impacts may include:
1. Early onset of puberty in grade school females (due to soy in baby formula, milk, etc)
2. Risk of GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) Contamination since many soybeans are genetically modified to withstand the increasing use of herbicides.
3. Soy is also known to be high in Phytic Acid with blocks the absorption of vitamins and minerals (especially true in livestock like your chickens!)
The Weston A. Price Foundation has done far more research about soy than I have and goes into significant detail in their Soy Alert Trifold
Soy has likely become out of balance and over consumed because it is relatively easy to produce on a large scale and its wide acclaimed status as a good source of protein. Therefore, it became an ingredient in livestock feed, baby formula, protein powder, soy-milk, soy burgers, tofu and so on.
The fact that the estrogenic substances do not seem to break down (at least in the example with cow’s milk) and are passed along to the end consumer only inflates the potential for over consumption.
Thus, soy-free chicken feed is a viable and useful product to help you limit the amount of soy, or specifically, estrogenic substances in your diet. Strong evidence suggests soy-free helps limit the phytic acid consumed by your chickens which increases absorption of nutrients.
Why Corn Free?
There are growing concerns about corn being a more common allergy than people think. Even though it is not one of the top eight allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, milk, egg, shellfish, fish, and soy) it is still an allergen for many people.
In addition to being a potential allergen, corn for chickens is similar to candy for children. Corn contains simple sugars, which can be converted easily into energy. This energy can be particularly useful in cold winters to help keep chickens warm. In excess though, particularly in meat birds, this causes rapid weight gain.
Health Issues for You:
In general, grain-fed chicken meat is lower in omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid, magnesium, calcium and potassium compared with free-range chicken meat. Feeding chickens primarily corn produces an imbalance of omega-3 fats to omega-6 fats in their eggs. Healthy ratios should be between 1:2 and 1:4, but corn-fed chicken eggs have a ratio of up to 1:20. Omega-3 fats are important for cardiovascular health because they reduce inflammatory reactions, but too many omega-6 fats negate their benefit. Additionally, free-range eggs are often higher in vitamin E and beta-carotene.
Corn-fed chickens are also more susceptible to being contaminated with grain pesticides, which can build-up in the fatty tissues of animals. Genetically engineered corn is commonly used in chicken feed, but any long-term health effects of eating animals raised on GMO grain are unknown. Because corn-fed chickens are typically raised in CAFOs, they are given large amounts of antibiotics to reduce infection rates, which may affect their meat and eggs in ways that are currently not understood.
In Conclusion, Soy and Corn both can cause serious health issues in the animals that consume them which are passed to the person who eats them. We have chosen to feed all of our animals corn-free, soy-free, and non-GMO feed so that we are raising healthy animals and eating the healthiest meat possible!