Introducing Bethesda Farm Soy-Free Eggs has been a real eye-opener for fans of organic pasture-raised eggs. Most people do nor realize that virtually all eggs produced for sale contain soy because the hens that lay them eat soy as their primary source of protein.
Instead of soy protein, Bethesda Farm hens receiving a soy-free diet get their protein from wild-caught fish and crab as well as from alfalfa and the grasses and bugs on pasture. Below is some more detail regarding the wild-caught marine sources of the protein. As always, Bethesda Farm seeks to provide the best quality feed for our hens; we know it makes a difference in the eggs that they lay.
A Word on the Wild-Caught Fish and Stone Crab Used in Bethesda Farm Soy-Free Feed
Animal proteins are a very important part of a laying hen’s diet. Chickens are omnivores and the amino acids in animal proteins ensure the hens receive the methionine, cysteine, and tryptophan they need to effectively produce eggs.
When soy is eliminated from a hen’s diet, the hens tend to become deficient in the amino acids listed above even when they are raised on pasture. One way producers fill this void is by utilizing DL methionine from the oil industry, which is simply a cyanide capture from oil wells.
Our menhaden fish meal supply is sustainable harvest certified, and it must be wild caught for it’s use in certified organic products. The meals are tested for toxins and more intensively, for mercury. Neither our fish nor our crab have ever had mercury levels of more than 0.01ppm by wet weight. The Stone Crab meal sources range from Nova Scotia to Mexico. The meal is produced from crab that didn’t pass the visual test for human consumption, however it is nutritionally equivalent. This “sustainable reutilization process” uses stone crab that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Both the fish and the crab are cooked, dried, and then milled into meals.
Fish meal can have higher levels of mercury, but that largely depends on what type of fish is used to produce the meal. The soy-free feed consumed by the hens at Bethesda Farm only use naturally preserved menhaden fish meal. Very few feed mills use menhaden fish meal, and even fewer use naturally preserved fish meals. Typically, cheap white fish meals are used and they tend to have much higher levels of mercury.
Not all fish meal is of the same quality. In menhaden fish meal, mercury is not a concern. Mother Jones states, “If you’re concerned about high mercury levels in farmed salmon or tuna, menhaden may start to sound more appealing. Unlike most fatty fish, plankton-swilling menhaden eat near the bottom of the food chain and have low mercury levels, 0.01 ppm (wet weight).” The Greenpeace Research Lab routinely publishes identical findings.
Beyond mercury in the fish, a big concern with fish meal is how the product is preserved. Most fish meal are been preserved with ethoxyquin or other highly toxic preservatives. Our fish meal is preserved with Naturox IPO antioxidant. It has an organic sunflower oil base carrier.