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The Feather Meal Fluff

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  1. Concerned

    Chicken feathers are just a (currently) fairly useless byproduct of the chicken industry. If the chicken industry can make a little extra money by selling the feathers to pet food companies and pet food companies could have an unlimited cheap protein source, they’ll all go for it. But will pet parents? I hope not. It doesn’t matter what animal (dog, cat, eagle, coyote, rodent, I could go on) eats a chicken, they DO NOT eat the feathers. They get plucked or torn out and left. Unfortunately I know this for a fact owning free range chickens.
    And worm meal?! Really? What dog or cat would eat a worm?! Other than the occasionally gotta stick everything in my mouth dog.

    1. Melisse

      I’ve caught my dogs eating worms. More frequently they want to roll in them, but eating the occasional squirmy wormy has it’s appeal. Just sayin’.

  2. Dragon77

    For what it’s worth, worms ARE considerably high in proteins – I know a lot of people who DO eat them (both raw and cooked – I had a biology teacher who used to make Worm Cookies). Also VERY high in protein, and eaten in MANY parts of South America, are termites – they boil them and mix them with rice.

    It is not the protein SOURCE that concerns me, as much as the PROCESSING and resulting protein QUALITY. The hydrolyzing (to ME), would tend to indicate high temperature processing, which *could* significantly reduce the quality of the protein itself. Now I’m not saying Feather Meal would ever be my first choice in proteins (yes, I’d go for worms and termites before feathers), but i would not utterly discount it without knowing more of the details.

  3. ellie

    It appears that these companies have realized that there are many Americans who will believe anything if the information is presented to them by someone that they consider to be informed on the subject.
    It is sad because no one should believe that feathers are a source of nutrition for anyone.

  4. Donnie

    The best way to get rid of industrial waste is to stick it in the food, non-food, and water supplies, and tell people it’s good for them. That may not be true, but at least they don’t have to pay for disposal in landfills, etc. Oh, by the way, how many of the chicken feathers come from China, in addition to American chicken factory farms. We just know that they won’t be using feathers from organic chicken farms. Read the labels, and hope there may still be a bit of truth in labeling left.

  5. jane

    I’m sure it’s from CHINA ! They had the Bird Flu , what did they do with All the feathers ? other than making Down Comforter’s and Pillows, shipping them to USA and other Sucker’s.

  6. Gitta

    As usual: there is no thought and NO testing to determine long term safety. Safety in puppies, pregnant animals, lactating animals, old and sick animals.

    As usual humans see what they want to see and deny any possibility of adverse effects of unintended consequences. As if completely changing nature and using chemistry and technology to create yet another Frankenfood is guaranteed limited to the wishful thinking of the creators.

    Feathers were never meant to be food. Again, we force an animal to deal with a substance that is entirely unnatural. What waste product next? How about recycling old leather shoes and handbags. They contain protein.

    As long as the official view is: it is safe until proven unsafe I suspect it will end up in pet food with a name we wont recognize as ground up waste.

    Worm meal raises the question: what were the worms fed?
    A worm is no more yuck than beef brain, chicken gizzards or lamb liver. And how are the worms processed? If we are just using another animal (like the lion meat in favor these days or the horse meat) that was never intended to be a feed animal – then there are no restrictions as to what these worms are being fed.

    So, I might be able to accept worm meal if it is declared properly and I can choose to buy that food or not.

    Feathers? Certainly not. Drugs can be easily found in human hair long after the body has cleared them. I don’t think feathers would be different.

    Oh – the holy twin cows of greed and profit.

  7. Robin

    I feed my dogs raw WHOLE chickens, feathers, feet, beaks, everything. Feathers are a source of fiber for dogs.
    While I do not agree with the idea that they must be ultra processed to be used in pet food as processing ruins everything valauble about them, if I had to decide between a kibble with corn glutens and other crap with one made with feathers, I would choose the feathers.

    1. Concerned

      I wonder, do you literally give the whole chicken to the dog and the dog eats it in entirety? Or do you ‘prepare’ the chicken then feed it to the dog in a bowl?

    2. Allison

      I feed raw too and have noticed that my dogs won’t eat all the feathers. They will eat some in the process of devouring the chicken but they won’t go around after and pick up all the feathers left lying around…makes me think it really isn’t that nutritious. A pet food made solely out of bird feathers would be extremely unnatural and unhealthy…no way around it. If you threw a bucket of feathers on the ground would your dogs eat it? Mine wouldn’t.

  8. dmiller

    Tongue in cheek here. Maybe they should feed the feathers to the worms.

  9. MFH

    Feather mael has been widely used in the farm animal feed business for quite a while.

    1. Allison

      That’s horrible. Farm animals should 100% not be eating feathers! A cow or pig would NEVER eat feathers on their own. I actually picked up a bag of ‘hog grower’ pellets just to see what was in it and the 1st ingredient was pork fat. Pigs eating pigs. Happy I’m a vegetarian.

  10. JosiesMom

    Worm meal would be more digestible than feathers. However is more likely to introduce dirt to the mixture also. Feathers are already found in pet kibbles. How is mixing with water supposed to change the crude protein into digestible protein? And with all that processing how then will it be cost effective?

    Then they have to ADD flavorings to make it palletable for the pet?

    I am sooo happy my furred companions eat a whole prey, raw meaty bones diet and no longer eat ANY kind of kibble! They are healthier, more vibrant, more active and have already lived longer than their kibble fed counterparts!

  11. Amee Rech

    Best titled post ever! No feathers for mine, thank you very much!

  12. lettucehavewhirledpeas7

    What goes around comes around. Many long years ago I used to buy 50# sacks of blood, bone and feather meal for my “organic” vetetable garden. Then one day realized that all this stuff comes from factory farms. Egads!!! You can buy a 50# sack of feather meal for $50.00 at the garden supply store.

  13. Brittany Dean

    This article offends me. I think this is another one of those “scare tactics”. The only formulas that contain this “feather meal” are the hydrolyzed protein and hypoallergenic formulas. I work at a vet clinic, and the only time we even prescribe these formulas are when a pet hasn’t responded to any other protein source, i.e. rabbit, venison. I have a 6 year old pitbull with horrible skin allergies, and this food (Royal Canin HP) has worked for her after trying everything from grain-free, raw, alternative protein sources, even up to a vegetarian diet that her digestive system could not tolerate. This is not a common ingredient in Royal Canin’s food, or any food for that matter. It is actually more expensive for these companies to process these feathers into a hydrolyzed protein. It is not some “cheap filler”. Some pets actually need this hydrolyzed protein to not have digestive upset, skin irritation, and ear infections. I think it is completely irresponsible and uneducated to down an ingredient like this that is only used in prescription diets, that some pets benefit highly from.

    1. Grateful

      You’ve fallen for the pitch. Don’t feel too badly, many have. But perhaps you can educate yourself more about what goes into these so called prescription “foods”. These companies don’t care about your dog.

      1. Brittany Dean

        So I guess I should have just continued to feed my dog raw even though she was still scratching her skin off? Is this acceptable to you? It’s really not fair you are making me out to be some uneducated and impressionable consumer when I am not! My other dog eats raw and my cat eats nothing but Merrick’s canned food. I wish my other dog could eat these “acceptable” foods, but she can’t due to having an allergic reaction to EVERY meat out there. As I said, we even had her on a vegetarian food (poor thing), that cleared her skin up but she had nothing but constant loose stool and gas! I do know what I’m talking about, I haven’t fallen for some “pitch”. I do not need to educate myself on what is in her food, because I know what it is. I’m not happy with the ingredients, but you know what, IT WORKS FOR HER. You must think so highly of yourself to try and act like I am some idiot while you are trying to educate me. Please. Also, on another note, not every family that feeds a “substandard” food does so because of the pretty bags and “pitches”. I would much rather see a lower middle class family feeding their dog Ol’ Roy than see that dog in the shelter. Get off your high horse. You are not smarter than me, I am informed on what my babies eat, and I am also informed on what hydrolyzed protein is, and what it is used for. As I said, Royal Canin HP uses it, as does Hill’s Z/D formula. These foods are used as a LAST RESORT when all other feasible options have been exhausted. I highly doubt it will be “coming to a pet food near you”, and well, if it does, I guess I can quit paying 80$ a bag for Punky’s prescription food.

        1. Susan Thixton Author

          Brittany – you have your opinion of this ingredient based on a very particular need for your pet. What the post was about, was the chatter in the industry that this ingredient – feather meal – is probably going to be seen in more foods (not allergy foods). No one has said thy are smarter than you, no one questions the ingredient as a last resort. We question its use in more foods – as a cheap alternative to high quality protein sources.

          1. Brittany Dean

            No, but when i have some person telling me I am just falling for a “pitch” and I should “further educate myself” when I made it perfectly clear that my pet had no other options, that is uncalled for. So either “Grateful” can’t read, or has no regard for my pet and my experiences, other than to tell me I need to educate myself. Looks like “grateful” needs to be further educated on being considerate of other people’s experiences, other than saying they are gullible and uneducated.

          2. Susan Thixton Author

            The whole point is not to argue or take offense – it is to learn – all of us learn, myself included. Bickering between pet food consumers does nothing but hurt us.

    2. Allison

      It bothers me that you called this article a scare tactic. Consumers have the right to know about every ingredient in the food they are feeding their pets. The companies aren’t telling people so someone has to! By the way I have a lab with extremely severe allergies and guess what her real problem was? All the stupid drugs the vet prescribed!! Once I took her off the steroid prednisone her hair started growing back. I’m now feeding a raw no carb diet and she’s doing better than ever. My vet tried telling us to feed the HP diet and when I found out it contained a preservative commonly used to make rubber tires I decided to do the right thing and say NO! It took us a while to find what works for my dog with allergies but it was worth it not falling for a prescription diet that will only cause further problems. The HP food and steroids actually caused my friend’s dog to have liver problems. Just so you are aware.

      1. Brittany Dean

        My dog is not on steroids, and we have tried a raw no carb diet. I think everyone is missing the point. My dog is allergic to chicken, fish, red meat excluding kangaroo, which I CAN NOT afford, lamb, and countless environmental triggers, and the list continues. We have had her allergy tested, not to mention trying every food on the face of the planet. All I’m saying is I don’t see this ingredient becoming a staple in pet foods. Also, as “label savvy” as we all are, I think we would think twice about feeding something called hydrolyzed protein or feather meal. I’m just saying that this article is putting RC on blast for using hydrolyzed protein, when there are dogs like mine out there that benefit from that formula. Not every dog can eat a raw prey model diet, or a homemade diet, or a high quality kibble. Punky is a white pitbull who is also deaf in one ear and blind in one eye. We got her as a mange infested, flea ridden, heartworm positive, PREGANANT needing a c-section dog. I highly doubt there are many people out there that would have sunk the time and money into a “stray” like we did. It upsets me more that anything that everyone here thinks BARF diets and homemade food is going to solve the problem. It doesn’t work for everyone! I wish Punky could eat a prey model diet, my other dog does and he is a whopping 14 with no health issues and still acts like a puppy. I doubt Punky will even make it to 10 🙁 If there is any link that anyone can give me to some kind of vegetarian homemade diet??? That is about the only thing that I can think that would work for her. It’s sad, I know the ingredients are substandard, but what is a pet parent to do after all other options have been exhausted???

        1. Becky

          Hi Brittany – It’s a year later and I have a 14-year-old chihuahua who has been fairly miserable the last few years from digestive issues. My new vet recommended Royal Canin Hypoallergenic canned and so I’m doing some research. I’d love to hear how Punky is doing and if you’re still feeding her this food. If you would like to communicate privately, I actually sent you a message on Facebook but it goes into your “Other messages” box, which no one ever looks at. To get to your “Other” folder, click “Messages” on the left side of the homepage, then click “Other” in the top left.

          If you should see this comment, I’d really appreciate a reply and ideally, a private reply on FB. I’d love to communicate with someone for whom this food is a success, as I’ve had no success with so many other diets and am at my wits’ end. And my poor baby needs some relief. Thanks!

          1. Kelley

            Hi Becky. I just met a very knowledgeable representative from “Answers Pet Food” who is versed in theraputic remedies for dogs who are challenged with digestive issues and upsets. She has been formally trained in agricultural sciences, and specialized in the dairy cow industry, although she is now only involved with raw goat milk and raw food products. Her product definitely represents the “answers” to a lot of pet’s nutritional issues, and she can respond to any question you might have about how her products could help your dog as well. I encourage you to follow up through their website and to call their helpline number. They will to answer any questions without obligation towards making a sale.


            Please let me know how this goes, if you have the time, and remember at a later date to post again, or to reply to my comment. Thank you.

        2. Kelley

          Call Answers Pet Food at (below) and inquire about how their products can help.

          I do not work for the company, nor receive any compensation for recommending their products. I am just another PF consumer.

  14. Donnie

    Another thought. Chickens on factory farms are routinely fed chicken feed that contains arsenic. I wonder if that contaminates the feathers, too. I don’t feed my dog any chicken or turkey pet foods or treats.

  15. Grateful

    Thanks for the heads up Susan. There is no end to the lengths these greedy corporations will go to, at the expense of our pets.

  16. KAH

    To Brittany Dean: I have a 14 yr. old poodle who will throw up chicken within 20 minutes of consumption! He lacks an enzyme to digest it. Which means he can’t eat any poultry products or poultry additives. He will eat grass, and throw up bile, if not fed every morning at the same hour, meaning he has a very acidic stomach. He’s had a $1500 pancreatitis bout, that will reoccur if fed fat. He used to be able to eat Orijen’s original formula 70/30 but not when they changed it to 80/20. Yet his stools are firm when fed a much less expensive brand, but the brand worried me. He bites at his sides if fed lamb (considered a “hot” meat) and licked his paws obsessively when fed solely a fish formula. He was also plagued with skin tags, some which nearly required removal. I say all this, to help the reader above, in part, who’s dog also has very serious dietary issues. I recommend this approach NOT to be critical or to be condesending. But only to suggest that learning about pet nutrition is a VERY evolutionary (and sometimes experimental) experience! During the journey the average PetSumer goes through absolute and utter disbelief, disgust, doubt, denial, defensiveness, anger … and if they make it that far … sometimes even guilt. Commercial PF contains so many elements, including the synthetic vitamins, minerals, colorings, flavorings, etc. it’s almost impossible to track down the real cause of a dog’s “allergic” reaction. Even with the so-called single ingredient PFs. That’s why a Vet will often recommend an owner go back to a basic diet of protein + rice when the dog is very sick. That’s not an optimal diet in any way, but it eliminates so many other dietary variables, that it allows the pet to come back to status quo. It’s only meant to be temporary. Some Vets choose to use the prescribed diets only because they know exactly what the composition is made up of, and they can therefore, center their testing and tracking around those diets (to eliminate other variables).
    I promise you, that if you try a home made diet, your dog will improve. Dogs are much easier to feed than cats. Pick a protein (in my case beef stew meat works great because I can control the fat level) and minimally bake it (15 minutes) so it’s safe to handle. Figure out if your pet can eat egg (at least the white). You can add cooked liver crumbles. Pick a carb (cooked Oatmeal is the easiest) but Sweet Potato also works well. THK’s Preference is also very easy! Steam some green veggies and fruits (aides digestion) and add a little lactose free (fat free) yogurt or kefir to also aid digestion. You may have to take these steps one at a time, building to the eventual full recipe. But your dog will thrive, with less (no more smelly) stools. My dogs have gained a welcomed 1-lb this past year, they’re full of energy, and very satisfied during the day. It has greatly improved their temperment, especially the 14 yr. old. Eventually you can add a pet supplement (Udo’s Pet Essentials is based on organic whole food compounds) so you know your dog won’t be missing anything in the diet.
    Good luck; the people who follow TAPF only want to be helpful. Please don’t take offense.

  17. FrogDogz

    Just to clarify, Feather Meal is NOT a ‘new ingredient’. Royal Canin admitting it uses FM is new, but this ingredient has been a buzz word in the pet food industry since early 2000.

    In 2009, GoldMehl introduced a new method of FM processing to the market place, that they promised would increase “feces scoring” (ie; reduce the incidences of projectile diarrhea seen when control dogs were fed traditionally processed FM).

    Feather Meal has other issues besides projectile poop. It’s a high protein form of keratin, composed of cross linked cystine – the amino acid that dogs afflicted with cystinuria are unable to process.

  18. Carol

    Using feathers that have been chemically treated to make them digestible sure doesn’t appeal to me for my pet’s diet. I try to minimize chemically treated foods in general.

    I don’t mind the worms so much. Surprisingly, they are a high fat/high protein food source. My friend had a Silky Terrier show dog that kept getting fatter and growing a magnificent coat. She kept cutting the dog’s food back and she wouldn’t lose weight. Finally, she discovered her dog was eating earthworms at night in the damp, dew covered soil in her area. I’ve never seen a more robust and beautifully coated dog!

    You’d have to wonder though, what’s in the soil the worms are eating? Just like you have to wonder what’s in the feed given the chicken or beef in your dog’s diet. Many commercial feeds for livestock are loaded with things that can cause their meat to affect sensitive individuals. The dog that can’t eat meat of most normal sources might be able to eat those same meats if the chicken, beef, etc. were fed organic feeds without chemical additives or GMO grains. It can go back farther than just the type of meat, it can be the diet given that meat source causing the problems!

  19. Peter

    I think it is important that you duly mention that “The GoldMehl feather meal manufacturer performed a seven day digestibility trial in dogs.” Not much, is it? It simply isn’t appropriate to assert that consumption of feather meal is safe or nutritious for the lifetime of a dog (or cat) without adequate research. Essentially, it is the consumer who performs “lifetime” testing of food ingredients and additives, with their pets as the test subjects. And not that much is really known about this ingredient, when you think about it. I doubt many consumers would welcome this as an ingredient in their pet’s diet. Especially since it tastes so lousy (or doesn’t “taste” at all) that manufacturers have to add “palatants” to get the dogs to eat it. Perhaps AAFCO will help the suppliers come up with a fake name that can hide the fact that it is feathers (a waste product), much like the created term “Brewers Rice” for the junkiest parts of junk broken rice, so that it sounds like something better than it really is.

  20. Choking on feathers

    I’m completely torn. My dog is a 7 year old mix with the most sensitive digestive system imaginable. Thousands of dollars spent on specialists, naturalists and on every slight chance of hope I could find, just to improve his situation. Every expert was going to show up all of the ignorant attempts before them, but to no avail. Enter anallergenic with its feathers and worms. So gross and fundamentally against everything I stand for! Guess what? It took about 24 hours and he has been perfect ever since. It has been over a year, maybe two years.
    He is probably the best dog anyone who meets him has ever known. Collie Briard mix. Handsome, smart and well trained . Now I can’t bring myself to make him sick again and take him off the potentially hazardous and disgusting food. My other dogs eat super quality, well monitored diets tailored to them. I’m a consumer and in the trade. What would you do for this angel of a dog who is finally comfortable? I’m torn.

  21. Katie LaaLaa

    I was filling my dog’s bowl up about 10 minutes ago and found what I’m assuming is a dried up feather. It was in 1 of the kibbles. And I mean it was lodge it there. No taking it out.
    How do you miss that there’s a feather? And it’s pretty big. I’m glad I caught it. I’m gonna take a picture of it and send an email to the company.
    Needless to say I will probably be switching.
    I do consider the “WOW a feather, real chicken.” aspect of it but I also think of “What the heck is wrong with these people? Are they blind?!” How do you miss that? There’s no way!
    So in terms of feather meal being in pet food now. I think it’s disgusting. It’s just another filler, away to save a buck. Trying to make it sound like it’s a good thing. No it’s not. Use common sense and think. Grinded up or not. Feathers were not made to be edible. End of story. I’ll be making my dog her food for now on.

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