The Georgia-based poultry company announced in January that it was starting a product line with poultry on feed made with hon-GMO Project Verified ingredients.
In addition to raising poultry, the company manufactures its own feed. It also does not use antibiotics with its chickens and has its production practices reviewed and certified by the American Humane Association.
The interest in using non-genetically modified (GM) feed ingredients started more than 20 years ago, said Dale Faunce, director of marketing with Springer Mountain Farms. At the time, the company was looking at organic production.
“It didn’t take long to find out how much of a challenge it would be to do organic mostly because of the feed; we couldn’t find non-GMO feed components to supply the chickens,” he told FeedNavigator. “So we raised an antibiotic-free, quality product but not an organic [one].”
However, the interest in working with domestically grown, non-GMO feed ingredients continued, he said.
A few years ago, it got back on track with that plan, looking at a way to make that transition.
Supporting GMO-free production
Springer Mountain Farms has always been interested in being a leader in the poultry industry, said Faunce. For the company, the move to use non-modified feed ingredients was in keeping with that goal.
“We think it’s the right thing to do,” he added.
To develop the supply line for certified non-GMO feed grains the company worked directly with individual farms, he said. The company already sourced its grain domestically and did not want to turn to imports. There also continue to be some questions about the certification process used internationally.
There has been buy-in from feed crop producers, especially those growing corn he said. “The reaction from them has been absolutely positive.”
“We’ll be 100% GMO-free next year,” he said of the company’s planned development and expansion of the GMO-free production line. “We couldn’t arrange [all the needed] farms this year."
Currently, the product line is available in the eastern part of the US, “Mississippi and east,” he said. However, that is expected to expand in the future.