So you have backyard chickens, but what kind of nutrition are they providing you?
One of the greatest nutritional challenges in America right now is the Omega balance we’re getting from animal-based foods including dairy, meat, and eggs. Although we need both Omega 6 and Omega 3 acids, the ratio that we eat greatly affects our bodies.
Before mass industrialization of the food industry, most human diets delivered us a ratio of Omega 3 to 6 of about 1:1 up to 1:3, which is considered ideal for our bodies’ needs. Today, the ratio of Omega 3 to 6 in the American diet can be as high as 1:20!
Research is investigating how this unhealthy ratio may be contributing to inflammatory diseases. Read on to find out how you can help your laying hens re-balance their diets to produce eggs packed with Omega-3s and other beneficial micronutrients.
Step 1: Pasture, pasture, pasture!
The amount of grain we feed our farm animals is a large contributing factor to this unnatural ratio. If you’re interested in raising healthier chickens that deliver a higher ratio of Omega 3 acids, the first thing you need to do is let your birds forage as naturally as possible! Chickens did not evolve eating grains, and the nutrients they gain from their natural diet of plants and insects will be passed down in their eggs and meat.
Step 2: Ditch the Soy
Of course, pasturing at all times is not always possible. Chickens do require protein, which they naturally acquire from foraging insects. When you must use chicken feed, look for alternatives that more closely match a chicken’s natural diet.
Although soy is a high-protien, cost-effective way to supplement chicken feed, consider other alternatives like worms, mealworms, hemp, and a little bit of flax–but keep it below 5% of the supplement or you may risk digestive problems.
Step 3: Give Beneficial Supplements
SeaBuckthorn has been making ripples in the backyard chicken community for a reason! Farmers giving this supplement noticed shinier feathers and combs, increased egg production, and healthier eggs. In 2015, scientists in Salt Lake City conducted a laboratory analysis to compare the amount of Omega 3 in an egg from a backyard chicken that had been supplemented with SeaBuck 7 for 30 days to that of a grocery store egg labeled organic and “cage free”.
The results speak for themselves. The test found 83.6 mg Omega 3/mg of yolk from the “cage free” egg, and 275.3 mg Omega 3/mg of yolk from the backyard bird that had been supplemented with Seabuck oil. That’s more than 3x the Omega 3 fatty acids, after only 30 days of supplementation! To make matters better, laying hens love the taste of SeaBuck7 and it will improve their overall health, too!