Are chickens vegetarian?

Are chickens vegetarians?

When you watch birds in the wild, you’ll see them gobble up insects in addition to scratching for seeds. Chickens grown for food production also get a diet that includes animal proteins, said Mike Kidd, professor, poultry science for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

“Broiler chickens are fed diets with ingredients of known composition so that diets provide nutrients to support maintenance and growth of the bird,” he said. “The two principal ingredient classes fed to broilers are cereals such as corn to primarily provide broilers calories and oilseeds such as soybean meal to primarily provide broilers amino acids.

“In addition, it is commonplace for diets to include fats and oils from animal or vegetable sources to provide calories, and meat meals from animal origin and purified amino acids to primarily provide amino acids,” he said. “The final make-up of the diet is dependent upon the balance of all required nutrients for the bird and the cost of the ingredients offered for blending.”

Broilers can eat an all-vegetable diet or a vegetable diet with oils and meals from animal origin. Formulating diets for energy and amino acids for bird growth are the primary cost drivers.

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