They've been eating organic feed since they were two days old. Until six weeks ago it was a blend that relied on soy for its protein component (around 17% by weight). I've since switched to soy-free organic layer feed for two reasons.
First, because of the levels of omega3 fatty acids available in soy-free feed. Those fats make their way through the chicken and show up in the eggs. You might have seen the egg cartons in the supermarket that make statements about the eggs having omega3 fats. My eggs are now the same.
The protein in the soy-free ration now comes from flax meal, fish meal, and crab meal. Still organic, but has those good fats.
Also, I think letting the chickens forage for bugs in my sideyard can only help round out the nutritional value of the eggs.
The second, maybe equally important reason, is that soy may be harmful.
Originating in China, soybeans have been consumed by humans for thousands of years. It’s only been in the last century that the way we eat soy has changed dramatically. Fermentation is how soy was first prepared for eating. It was a side dish that complimented the rest of the meal. Raw soy is not fit for consumption and can be considered toxic. Today’s soy is processed in variety of methods (not fermented) which denatures the proteins and increases levels of carcinogens.
Soy is a prevalent ingredient in almost all processed foods. Those with a soy allergen (it’s one of the top eight food allergens for humans) know this best. It’s in fast-foods, baby food, processed meat, breads, etc. Unless you are very conscious of everything you eat, it is easy to consume an unregulated amount of soy products every day.
Perhaps you are not allergic to soy, here are some other findings that may be important to you. Soy is not a complete protein (as commonly believed), lacking some important amino acids. Soy foods can cause deficiencies in calcium and vitamin D. Soy increases levels of estrogen (possibly simulating the growth of related tumors) and decreases levels of testosterone. It has been related to pre-mature sexual development in females, and delayed development in males. Animal studies show soy foods causes infertility in animals.
Because soy is a prolific food allergen, the FDA requires it to be listed clearly as an ingredient in processed foods. At this time the FDA does not require meat, raised on soy feeds, to be disclosed. People highly allergic to soy are affected by this.
Soybean is the human choice for animal feed, thus covertly making it another avenue into our daily consumption of it. Chickens receive the highest level of exposure, and it is retained in their meat and eggs.
The wholesaler is CFS Specialties located in Cashton, WI
You can find an image of the feed bag by choosing Poultry Rations from the menu on the left side of the page -- then click on No Soy poultry rations
The retailer is Backyard Chicken Run.
John, the owner, also sells some nice, though expensive, dog and cat foods. The best part of the deal is that "free" delivery is included in the price. That price, at least for chicken feed, was the same as I was paying at the previous supplier (The Feed Store in Summit, IL).
I think his business is well worth supporting.
More on the nutritional and dietary fats found in chicken feed.