In recent years, feed recalls have been a huge problem. Regardless of the animals you have, chances are you have been affected, or were nearly affected, by a recall. It is always scary when the news of a feed recall starts making rounds because it is natural to immediately fear the worst. Even if the feed you use is not tainted, it is hard not to think about the \'what if\' and worry about the price you and your animals will pay if recalled feed has been consumed. Lots of times, recalls are voluntary and are a \'just in case\' type of measure. This does not mean something cannot go or has not gone terribly wrong, but it is reassuring to know that \'just in case\' still matters.
When it comes to chickens, the depth at which a recall can affect you depends largely on your chickens\' diet. Depending on how much your adult birds are able to free range, actual feed may be a low priority in their lives. When it comes to chicks that eat starter feed, however, a recall can be much more of a problem for you. The key to deciphering how big of a problem lies in how well you keep track of what you are feeding.
It is easy enough to say that you feed X version of Y brand. In some cases, that is all it takes to determine whether or not a recall affects you. More often than not, however, the recall is going to be more specific than that and you will need batch, lot, etc. numbers to determine if the recall affects you. That is not a problem as applicable numbers are printed on the feed tag on the bag, so all you have to do is look at the tag and see if the numbers match. This works well unless you behave like me and thrown away the tags.
Old habits die hard and I like a clean feed room so I have a tendency to throw empty feed bags away as soon as possible. It took a recall scare for me to change my ways. When a recall was announced, I had no way of knowing for sure if the numbers on my feed tag matched the recall numbers because that feed tag was long gone. In the end, I had to assume my feed was tainted and thus it was disposed of but how easily that could have been avoided had I kept that pesky little tag!
These days I implore two methods of keeping feed tags handy. For the horses, since horse feed is often sticky, I have a bulletin board where feed tags are pinned. Those tags remain there until the bag is spent and then they are replaced with the feed tag of the next bad. For the chickens, since stickiness is not a problem in their feed, I just toss the tag in the storage container with the feed. When the feed is used, the tag gets removed and a new tag goes in its place with a new bag of feed.
This little step truly is a lifesaver when it comes to the potential problems that could arise from accidentally or unknowingly using recalled feed. For some of us, throwing tags away creates a hard lesson learned, but such lessons can be avoided by keeping those tags around until the feed is used and even then you might want to file them for a week or two should a problem arise. The importance of knowing what you are feeding your chickens, especially from specific lot/batch numbers, is paramount to their continued good health, thus keeping track of feed used is something you should thoroughly embrace.