Soy or No Soy - Which is best for my animal needs?
Many of our customers are very concerned with soy in the feed. They have heard that it is bad but they are not sure why. So, this is my attempt to shed some light on the subject.
Remember that old adage “If it sounds too good to be true it probably is?” Current research is indicating that this may be the case with soy. In 1999 soy was the miracle food that would lower bad (LDL) cholesterol plus it is high in protein (a great substitute for meat). However, recent studies show that you would have to drink a half gallon of soy milk a day to reap this kind of benefit (or eat 1 ½ pound of tofu) to reduce your cholesterol. This would be difficult plus you would be ingesting extremely high levels of Isoflavones. And it is Isoflavones that are the real danger.
Current research shows that soy contains dangerous levels of these Isoflavones (plant estrogen). Since these Isoflavones are similar to human estrogen you find them in products used to alleviate menopausal issues. Unfortunately, recent studies show that they can also affect fertility in men and have been shown to increase breast cancer in women. It is also being linked to hypothyroidism and early puberty in young girls. Additionally, it appears that those people with a nut allergy are experience symptoms when soy is present (Research is just beginning in this area).
While our country seems to still be on the “Soy is Great” band wagon other countries are not. The Israeli Ministry of Health advises adults to limit their intake of soy. They also advise that babies should not receive soy milk unless there is no other option and they suggest that children should receive very limited amounts. Health officials in Great Britain and France are voicing similar concerns.
Many products sitting on America’s grocery shelves contain some form of soy as it is an inexpensive additive that improves the texture of processed foods. Additionally, it is touted as being heart healthy (lowering cholesterol) and high in protein. This gives the public the idea that it is good for you. And in moderation it probably is, however, packaged foods contain a lot of it and if you do not dissect every label you are probably ingesting too much. With evidence mounting it would seem prudent to be concerned with your intake. However, you should be aware that fermented soy is actually good for you. During the fermentation process the chemical makeup of soy is changed thereby reducing the level of Isoflavones. So natto, miso, temple and soy sauce are good for you.
Another question everyone has with regard to soy is GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). Basically, the grain industry is splicing fertilizers, pesticides, etc into the grain on a genetic level. They are also splicing DNA from varying organisms into seeds (for example; frog DNA into tomato seeds to make the plants and their fruit more cold hardy). I believe that this should be a major concern because there was no testing of the long term effects before GMO’s were introduced into the market place. Additionally, companies are genetically splicing a wide variety of seeds not just soy. On the bright side, you should note that certified organic grains do not contain GMO’s or chemicals of any kind.
With regard to animal feed, soy is very high in protein and is used to raise the protein level in feed. The feeling among animal nutritionist is that today’s poultry needs a higher protein level when they are babies. While not a lot of research has been done, what has been done is troubling.
In 2009 an Ohio State University student named Dante Miguel Vargus Galdo did his master’s thesis entitled “Quantification of Soy Isoflavones in Commercial Eggs and their transfer from Poultry Feed into Eggs and Tissue.” In this study, he found that these Isoflavones were indeed transferred into the eggs and flesh of the poultry through their feed. He also found that when the poultry was transitioned to a soy-free feed there were no Isoflavones in the poultry eggs or flesh after ten days.
So my recommendation is that you error on the side of caution. I would start your poultry on a soy feed but move your meat birds to a no soy ration 2-3 weeks before processing and move your layers to a no soy feed a month before they are due to start laying to a no soy layer ration.
Other good reading on the subject is Dr. Kaaya Daniels book The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America's Favorite Health Food
The RCR Organic Feedstore carries a complete line of Soy Free organic feed for your chickens, poultry and livestock as well as a selection of whole grains.
Author: Cindy Rivers