being new to the backyard chicken scene, i sure was surprised to see this headline, “Arsenic found in Utah kids’ pee traced to their pet chickens’ feed”. apparently feed companies add roxarsone, an arsenic-based additive, to rations to help chickens fend off diseases and grow bigger and tastier. according to estimates poultry producers used 2.2 million pounds a year and now backyard producers who are trying to save a few bucks by not buying organic feed are unwittingly feeding the stuff to their hens which is ultimately ending up in their children’s urine.
as with all things, it appears that it’s a complicated issue, with the typical argument being that the arsenic in the feed is organic arsenic which is less toxic than inorganic arsenic, but according to the fda they are, “…evaluating reports suggesting that organic arsenic may convert to inorganic forms in the digestive track, litter, or soils.”
it sounds like testing of organic layer rations found “little or no arsenic” ( um, shouldn’t that be an unquivocal “no”? ) which is great news for us since The Girls only get organic feed to supplement what they get “on pasture” ( i.e. roaming around the lawn ).
yet another reason to avoid “conventional” poultry and eggs in the supermarket and if you’re doing the backyard chicken thing, shell out extra money for organic feed or do some digging into what’s really in the feed.