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Hormones and Antibiotics in Poultry Feed


No hormones are used in any poultry food in Australia.  This has been illegal here for over 40 years.  The situation is similar in the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe.

There have been cases in other countries where serious developmental problems have been caused to humans that have eaten poultry fed with hormones added to the feed.  There are good reasons for the addition of hormones to poultry feed to be illegal.  This prohibition applies to all types of poultry food, both for meat birds and for laying ones although I have not seen reports of serious affects on people from eating eggs from hens given hormones.

Antibiotics for Laying Hens

There are no antibiotics in the food we sell for laying birds.  This would be generally true of all other foods for laying birds.  However, the situation for chicks and young pullets is different.  Most of the foods sold for them contain a coccidiostat. These substances may not technically be antibiotics, but are certainly similar.  They are put into feeds such as chick starter crumbles and pullet grower micro pellets at low concentrations.  The idea is not to kill the protozoan parasite (the coccidian), but to slow down its growth so that the young birds can develop immunity to the disease.

Normally poultry intended for laying will have developed immunity by the time they are 14 weeks old.  Foods containing a coccidiostat should not be fed to laying poultry because a tiny amount of the coccidiostat could get into the eggs.  I have never seen any evidence of direct harm to people from eating eggs with coccidiostat in them, but this should be avoided.

Antibiotics in Meat Production

Years ago, it was discovered that adding antibiotics to the food eaten by animals being grown for meat would increase their growth rate.  It became standard practice to do this and much more antibiotic was used for animals than for people.  Because so much was used, there was much more opportunity for bacteria to develop immunity to these antibiotics and this has contributed to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria which are causing serious problems in hospitals.

Although Betta Trading sells an enormous amount of feed for laying poultry, we do not keep in stock any feed specifically for meat animals.

Meat in Poultry Food

Hens, Ducks and most birds kept for laying eggs are naturally omnivores, as we are.  Most poultry food has meat meal added to it.  Most people are quite happy about this, but a number prefer not to give their birds meat meal in feed.  One of the reasons for this is that hormones are sometimes used in the food given to cattle.  The fear is that a larger than normal amount of hormones will be contained in the meat meal and cause problems.

Personally, I am a vegetarian, having made the choice not to eat meat or fish about 30 years ago, but I have no objection to feeding meat meal containing food such as Golden Yolk to my Hens and Ducks.

Red Hen

Laucke is an excellent company producing very good products, and the Red Hen foods are of high quality, made using natural ingredients where possible, and we sell a lot of them.  This range of poultry feed has the statement on it:

“Antibiotic and Hormone free”.

This statement is true, but certainly does mislead people.  Some of our customers assume from the statement that other brands of food for laying hens are loaded with hormones and antibiotics.  When this feed was first introduced by Laucke, I pointed out this statement on the bag to the company representative, and he told me that several other retailers had also pointed out the misleading nature of the statement.  Despite our objections, this statement has been retained on the bags of the Red Hen Range of feeds.