Suppose you don’t know which of two brands of chicken feed is the best. What do you do?
Here’s a very simple test: set out two identical feeders, right next to each other, one filled with Feed A and one filled with Feed B. Note which feed the chickens prefer. Keep it up for a while (say, a week), so that any initial hesitancy the chickens might have had because of some trivial difference in texture or flavor has been overcome. Buy the feed that the chickens like best.
The idea here is that chickens, like people, can detect small differences in feed quality through their various senses — sight, smell, taste, and how they feel after eating. Discriminating between good food and bad is something that creatures are very good at.
There are large differences between different brands of livestock feed. Some vendors bulk up their feeds with cheap filler ingredients, while others use semi-spoiled ingredients because they’re cheap. Chicken feed made with moldy corn or rancid soybean oil meal is not going to work as well as feed made with quality ingredients. Fortunately, the chickens can tell the difference.
(See also my other blog posting on feed quality.