*Since this blog was published in 2018, we have since phased out all corn from the chicken feed as well. All of Primal Pastures chicken is soy and corn free.*
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.
Even in their wild environment, their predecessor the red junglefowl (pictured above), forages 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 of our beef and lamb is 100% pasture raised, grass fed, and grass finished with zero grains.
In our last Chicken Processing Workshop, students got 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. The feed is certified organic, non-GMO and soy-free (soy in the United States is more genetically modified than any other crop and can cause big problems when digested by humans).
The corn in our supplemental feed makes up a small percentage 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. You can check out all the ingredients here.
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, that's some quality grains as part of a varied omnivorous diet.
Learn more about what makes our chicken different, and shop all our pasture-raised meats.