What Is The Difference Between Chicken Meal And Chicken By-Produc

What Is The Difference Between Chicken Meal And Chicken By-Product?

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Last Updated on December 16, 2023 by Pauline G. Carter

Chicken meal is a concentrated form of chicken, while chicken by-product includes various parts of the chicken. Chicken meal is made from rendered chicken meat, while chicken by-product can include organs, feet, and other parts.

Chicken meal is a high-quality source of protein, while chicken by-product may not always be as nutritious. If you’re concerned about the quality of protein in your pet’s food, it’s important to understand the difference between these two ingredients. We’ll explore the disparities between chicken meal and chicken by-product, helping you make a more informed decision about what to feed your pet.

Understanding the variances in these ingredients will enable you to select the best diet for your pet’s individual needs.

What Is Chicken Meal?

When it comes to understanding pet food labels, it’s essential to distinguish between chicken meal and chicken by-product. Chicken meal is a commonly used ingredient in pet foods, but what exactly is it, and how does it differ from whole chicken or chicken by-product? In this article, we’ll delve into the definition, processing, nutritional value, benefits, and common uses of chicken meal in pet food. Let’s start by understanding the definition and processing of chicken meal.

Definition And Processing

Chicken meal is the dry rendered product from a combination of clean flesh and skin with and without accompanying bone. It is exclusive of feathers, heads, feet, and entrails. The chicken parts are ground and cooked to remove moisture and fat, resulting in a concentrated protein source. This processing method ensures that the final product is rich in protein and nutrients, making it a valuable ingredient in pet foods.

Nutritional Value And Benefits

Chicken meal holds significant nutritional value for pets as it offers a concentrated source of protein, essential amino acids, and minerals. Due to its high protein content, it can support muscle development and overall health in pets. Additionally, it provides necessary nutrients for maintaining healthy skin, coat, and immune function. The controlled processing of chicken meal retains the essential nutrients, offering health benefits for pets.

Common Uses In Pet Food

Chicken meal is a widely used ingredient in pet foods, including dry kibble and canned formulations. Its high protein content and nutritional benefits make it suitable for formulating complete and balanced diets for pets. It is often included as a primary protein source in many pet food recipes, contributing to the overall nutritional profile and palatability of the food.

What Is The Difference Between Chicken Meal And Chicken By-Product?

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Chicken By-product

Definition And Source

Chicken by-product refers to the parts of the chicken that are not typically used for human consumption, such as those that remain after the meat has been removed. This includes organs, bones, and parts like the feet and neck. While it might sound unappealing, by-products are rich in nutrients and can be beneficial for pets.

Regulations And Quality Control

When it comes to regulations, the pet food industry is tightly monitored to ensure that the by-products used meet certain standards. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sets guidelines for what can be labeled as a by-product in pet food, and these guidelines help maintain quality control and safety for pets.

Nutritional Content And Concerns

Chicken by-products are often misunderstood and can be a valuable source of nutrients for pets. They contain protein, vitamins, and minerals essential for a well-balanced diet. However, there are concerns about the variability in nutritional content between different batches and the potential for lower quality parts to be included. While some may have reservations about by-products, with proper regulation and sourcing, they can provide a nutritious option for pet food.

Key Differences

Ingredient Composition

Chicken meal and chicken by-product are two common pet food ingredients, but they differ significantly in terms of composition. Chicken meal is dehydrated and ground chicken flesh, while chicken by-product consists of various parts of the chicken, such as feet, necks, and internal organs. The inclusion of different parts in chicken by-product can vary by brand and quality, leading to a broader range of the ingredients it contains.

Nutritional Comparison

From a nutritional standpoint, there are noticeable differences between chicken meal and chicken by-product. Chicken meal primarily provides a high concentration of protein, as it is made from muscle tissue, which is highly desirable for pet diets. On the other hand, chicken by-product may contain lower levels of protein and a wider range of nutrients due to its diverse composition. The exact nutritional value of chicken by-product may therefore require more scrutiny when compared to chicken meal.

Impact On Pet Health

When we consider the impact on pet health, chicken meal is often considered the superior option due to its high protein content and relatively cleaner composition compared to chicken by-product. While the latter can still contribute essential nutrients to a pet’s diet, the potential variability in its composition raises concerns about the consistency and quality. This may require pet owners to be more discerning when selecting products containing chicken by-product to ensure it aligns with their pet’s nutritional needs.

Making Informed Choices

When choosing pet food, it’s important to be well-informed about the ingredients. Two common terms you might come across on pet food labels are “chicken meal” and “chicken by-product”. Understanding the difference between these can help you make the best choice for your pet’s health.

Reading Pet Food Labels

One of the first steps in making informed choices about pet food is learning how to read and understand the labels. Look for the specific ingredients listed, such as “chicken meal” or “chicken by-product”, and consider their nutritional value for your pet.

Considerations For Pet Owners

As a responsible pet owner, it’s crucial to consider the quality and nutritional value of the ingredients in your pet’s food. Chicken meal, which consists of dehydrated, ground chicken, contains high protein content and is often a preferred ingredient. On the other hand, chicken by-products may include parts like feet, heads, and organs, which may not be as beneficial for your pet’s diet.

Final Recommendations

When choosing pet food, opt for products that list high-quality ingredients like chicken meal over chicken by-products. Always prioritize your pet’s health and well-being by making informed choices about their nutrition.

Frequently Asked Questions For What Is The Difference Between Chicken Meal And Chicken By-product?

What Is Chicken Meal In Pet Food?

Chicken meal is a concentrated source of protein made from chicken parts. It’s a nutritious ingredient commonly found in pet foods.

Is Chicken Meal Better Than Chicken By-product?

Yes, chicken meal is a higher quality protein source than chicken by-product. It contains more muscle meat and fewer undesirable parts.

Can Cats And Dogs Digest Chicken Meal Easily?

Yes, both cats and dogs can easily digest chicken meal. It provides essential nutrients for their overall health and well-being.

What Are The Main Benefits Of Chicken Meal?

Chicken meal provides high-quality protein, essential amino acids, and nutrients necessary for pets’ muscle development and energy.

Does Chicken Meal Contain Any Fillers Or Additives?

No, chicken meal is a pure protein source without fillers or additives. It is a wholesome and nutrient-dense ingredient in pet food.

Are There Any Specific Health Benefits Of Chicken Meal?

Yes, chicken meal supports pets’ muscle growth, energy levels, and overall health. Its high nutritional value contributes to their well-being.


Understanding the distinction between chicken meal and chicken by-product is crucial for pet owners. Opting for high-quality, nutrient-dense chicken meal can provide many health benefits for your furry companions. On the other hand, it’s important to be wary of products containing chicken by-products due to the potential lack of nutritional value and quality.

Making informed choices ensures the well-being of your pets.

About Author (Pauline G. Carter)

Pauline G. Carter

Pauline G. Carter is a well-known pet blogger who has written about the world of pets for several years. She is passionate about pets, from cats and dogs to birds, reptiles, and poultry. Her blog, which is updated regularly, is filled with articles and guides on pet care, nutrition, and training. She also shares her experiences and observations on pet ownership, making her blog relatable and informative for pet lovers. She is a true animal advocate and is dedicated to promoting responsible pet ownership. Let’s Go …

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