Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Insanity

Yesterday I mentioned that I wanted to talk about some chicken insanity.
I am sure that you had hoped that I had a funny story to share with you.
Sorry, but....no... not this time.


I rarely get political about issues 
unless they are related to animal welfare, the environment or health.
I try to keep this blog light-hearted and fun.


But, once in a while an issue comes along that gets my blood boiling,
and then I must share my thoughts.

My goal is to educate and to give you something to ponder.

So....let's begin.

Chicken Insanity

A couple of years ago I offered someone a dozen of our free range eggs to try.
His response to my offering was:
"No, I'd rather buy eggs from the grocery store...
they are cleaner than from a farm."

Ok.
Really?

Hopefully no one reading this blog feels the same.
But in the off chance that you do...keep reading.

If you are buying traditional eggs from a grocery store,
most likely they came from a place like this...

If you are buying your eggs from a grocery store and they are labeled all natural, cage free,
most likely they came from a place like this...

http://humboldtsentinel.com
If you are buying your eggs from a grocery store and they are labeled free range,
most likely they came from a place like this
and most likely their outdoor area is much smaller...


If you are buying your eggs from a grocery store and they are organic,
most likely they came from a place like above...
most likely with much less outdoor area...
the only difference being that they are fed organic feed.

While none of these pictures looks horrific
(I have spared you those pictures..of which there are plenty),
these types of living arrangements are nothing compared to chickens 
who are allowed to run free on a farm with access to fresh air,
green grass and vegetation,  and clean water.

The above pictures are the best case scenarios for each of these types of eggs producers.
Is it any wonder that there are salmonella tainted eggs from these industrial farms?
Industrial chickens lead stressed lives 24/7,
and this type of stress leads to disease and poor egg quality..
not to mention the fact that there is no regard given to the welfare of the animals.
No, these types of egg producers are factories more than farms.


At the present time, the FDA and the USDA (in order to safeguard our health )
are considering regulations to limit
the outdoor exposure of these factory chickens....and all egg producers...
including small farms that produce truly pastured poultry.
They are operating under the assumption that contact with wild birds causes salmonella.
(our chickens are exposed to wild birds, insects, and such every day...
they are healthy birds despite this)


While wild birds (all birds probably) may carry salmonella,
the government is proposing we throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Chickens would not be at risk for contracting disease in the first place,
if they did not live in deplorable conditions.

The FDA/USDA regulations will require that all outdoor areas for chickens
remain free of wild birds, flies, rodents, etc.
They suggest the use of enclosed porches, netting, fencing, concrete, sound cannons, etc. to prevent 
intermingling of chickens with other creatures.

In essence, this regulation will put small farms who truly pasture their poultry out of business.

We, here at Bee Haven Acres will not be affected by this new body of rules,
as we are not USDA certified.
We sell to friends and colleagues who "get it."
But there are many small farms who are certified, who will not be able to
continue their free ranging practices.


Why is it that the regulatory bodies react to things with such a backwards approach.
I am sure it is due to the influence of agribusiness, who hopes to put small, organic 
producers out of business.


What can we do?

1.  Raise your own backyard chickens.
If you are on the fence about this issue and need some guidance, email me.

2.  Give your commentary to the FDA/USDA via their website...
(interestingly..the regulations.gov page that allows you to comment is "down" more than it is up)

3. Find a small farmer who raises his own pastured poultry...
local growers markets may be a good place to start.
Buy local.

Sorry for being so long winded.
Tomorrow we will be back to the usual farm stories.
But, for today....let's do something about the way our food is being
industrialized!
Industrial egg production is just the tip of the iceberg.

37 comments:

Stephane said...

It's just heartbreaking what people can do to animals. If people realized that the eggs they buy in the store are like a month old when the eggs get to the store, how many would continue to buy store eggs. Thank goodness I have my own flock. They have a pen but get to run free for a few hours a day, when they can be supervised because of our coyote issues.

colleen said...

I was just telling my husband..I hope we can keep our backyard hens for many years to come. Collecting those eggs and eating those fresh eggs NEVER "gets old" Even being in our middle ages we are just like two kids going to collect eggs...I don't tell him but I try to go out and collect them before he gets to them. We have just enough hens to keep us supplied and able to give a few away. I wish everyone that gets store bought eggs could read what you wrote

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i only buy my eggs from local farmers. i hate egg factories! whomever the guy was that said he wants to buy his eggs from the store, i want to sell him the brooklyn bridge! he certainly is easily led!!!

shannon templeton said...

It is, indeed, deplorable what people do to animals, heartbreaking really. It is also deplorable what the govt and big agribusiness are doing to farmers and the general public as a result. Watching the internet news and bloggers (like yourself) shows that people are starting to wake up and take more control in their own lives by way of gardens and backyard chickens...thanks for being such a positive roll model and mentor.

Anonymous said...

I am so with you on this! Terri C

Karen L. Bates said...

Thanks once again for being an animal advocate! I totally agree with you and wish all could be as informed.

Dixie said...

I'm with you completely on this issue. I run a bed & breakfast and am not allowed to serve my farm eggs to guests, because I'm not USDA certified. I'm also not allowed to serve homemade jams or homegrown meats. I eat local real foods and am forced to serve my guests what I can purchase in the grocery store. Our food industry is so frustrating!

Lynne said...

Thank you . . . sometimes we are changed when we least expect . . .

Beverly Frankeny said...

Dixie....

Yes, it is ludicrous and just plain stupid that these regulators and such who control how you run your business are trying to save your clients from good, healthy food. My kids have talked about opening a farm to table eatery....but that is almost impossible.
Since we farms are oh so "unclean"!
We humans are stupid.

Kim said...

Egg-actly why we continue to raise our own meat. There is truly something wrong when farm fresh eggs or milk are unsafe and Dr. Pepper and Twinkies are FDA approved. (not that I don't like DP or Twinkies, I'm just saying)

Cindy said...

I so agree with you! Another thing that bothers me is that small food producers (such as those that would like to sell their canned goods at farmer's markets) cannot do so unless it's processed in a commercial kitchen. I would have to say that most home kitchen are much, much cleaner than any fast food kitchen. Yuck! Too many weird regulations.

Denise at Autumn Sky said...

Craziness. Being in any type of farming business is not easy for so many reasons, then dealing with all the regulations makes it nearly impossible to succeed.

Junebug said...

I certain can get on my bandwagon about this same issue. Our young people have been so brained washed by our government about "healthy".

Humm, wonder when I'm 100 yrs. old if I can have my girls in the rest home. LOL!!!

Anonymous said...

I so agree with you. Yeah - the USDA and FDA and really looking out for us - NOT!

missy said...

Amen and well said..."Regulation" can get carried away..I've seen some of those pictures..Just seeing them jammed in to a truck, riding down the highway, feathers flying on hot days is enough for me..

Kris said...

It is really sad!! I have only recently begun to sell my eggs. I have a few loyal customers who value the health properties that true free range chickens provide!
xo Kris

Jeri Landers said...

Typical Government interference, from people who know nothing about chickens or farming! I am angry too!

tpals said...

When I call our eggs 'real eggs', my son says all eggs are real, but he's never had to eat store bought eggs in his life.

Anonymous said...

this is what happens when we lose our liberty, no choice anymore. As for the person saying he preferred to buy his food in the supermarket, I am always amazed at how uneducated people are ..........
Good thing I was not the one he said this to!!!!!

Annie v.

Anonymous said...

In the UK, backyard poultry keepers are not allowed to feed their chickens anything from the kitchen. They are breaking the law if they do. It's to prevent the spread of disease also. I wonder if that is coming down the pike for US poultry keepers.

I have such a huge problem with hawks, that all of my hens are in enclosed chicken tractors that I move to new ground each day. This method is a little more labor intensive, but my hens are safe and based on what I read here, complies with government regs.
Heather in PA

sundog said...

How utterly stupid some people, and sometimes governments, are! To me, it's the eggs from mass producers that are dirty: they all are contaminated with blood and suffering; too bad that this doesn't show on the surface... I hope this regulation/insanity can be stopped!

Rita B Caldwell said...

It's up to us to educate those that know no better!! But it is OK to get upset!

Laura Sudderth said...

I love your post and so educational too! Not many people know that by the time they purchase their grocery eggs they can be a month old! I loved raising my chickens and my eggs were washed with warm water and antibacterial soap...years and years of this and we never got sick.

Diane Cayton-Hakey said...

Eventually they will probably outlaw gardens on our property. We will have to grow in our basements under lamps just like marijuana growers back in the 70's.

:/

Deere Driver said...

What most people don't realize is the stress that chickens create amongst themselves, as they are such barbarians. In any type of close quarters as pictured, this is multiplied, especially if there is competition for food. And even with all the space in the world to pasture, my hens would go after the one worm that the other found as if it were the last worm on earth.

Those hens pictured are badly feathered and literally hen pecked by their barn mates. That makes them inefficient in heat or cold. It would be like us wearing a tattered coat in the winter or a holey shirt with no sunblock in the summer.

But you know this is knowledge gained by being farmers or knowing you producers, and that's the hard part to pass along without the first hand experience. But we keep on trying.

Then there's the crazy vegetarian eggs. Have you seen them? Tell me how that is done. In a bugless vacuum?

We could go on...

Susannah said...

No wonder so many farmers are going out of business and the family owned farms are being sold. I often ask my husband " I wonder what Dad would have to say about all these regulations and etc. if he were still here and farming". Great post, Bev and some very interesting comments!

Susannah

Lindsey at NW Backyard Veggies said...

I talked with someone recently who thought all backyard poultry was gonna give us the bird flu....
It took me a minute to get my head around that one, but when I finally picked my jaw up off the floor, I was able to let him know the truth about that.
I wonder if people ever read past the headlines and research things on their own? Then they would know that organic eggs mean next to nothing - they are just fed non-gmo feed while they are crammed in cages the size of an iPad.
Sigh.
All hail my backyard flock!

Tree Hugger - Suzan said...

I'm standing up and cheering you on!!! YES, YES, YES!!! People - ordinary people can be arrested for inhumane treatment of dogs and cats. rightly so!! But commercial farming of cows, pigs and chickens are the WORST offenders world wide. and yet we support them by buying and eating their food! we deserve the cancer and heart diseases that we as human contact due to the meats and foods we eat!!

daisy said...

Preach it, girl! Until we can raise our own, we will continue to support our local egg farmer.

Gone Country said...

My blood gets boiling on these issues as well. Where is our freedom these days? The government is overstepping it's boundaries more and more each day.

Country Gal said...

Obviously this guy is an idiot , all eggs come from farms just the ones in the stores come from battery hen farms YUK ! I prefer the taste texture and look of farm fresh eggs ! If you were to cook up some and give them to him and do not tell him they were from your farm till he ate them up he would probably change his mind fast about it all as they are better in the long run ! Oh well I guess he will never know what he is missing . Have a good day !

Anonymous said...

At the end of your soap box you ask the question, what can we do. Look at the party affiliate that are instigating these kind of restrictions on SMALL farms. What party do they come from ? Once THEY get all of the guns, then they will be able to completely control us. sooooooooo, take a good hard look at how you vote and the issues because it will come back to haunt you. Have a great day on your small farm......while you still can.

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

Those chicken factories are horrible, when I saw a documentary on how those chickens were treated I cried. And since then I've been trying to buy my eggs from local farms whenever possible.

Anonymous said...

The sheer number of eggs needed-trillions a year, by consumers in the US alone would have a huge negative environmental impact if raised in a free range setting.

My daughters and I had the opportunity to tour a state of the art egg laying facility with their 4H Poultry Club. Each building housed 250,000 birds. There were six buildings on 4 acres for a total of one and a half million birds. The facility was fully automated, and very very clean. There was no ammonia smell and the poops were immediately carried away to be burned by an electricity generating plant on the premises. The ash was sold for fertilizer.The hens were kept in small battery cages and I agree that it is poor life for them, but we saw healthy, well fed and watered birds in small cages.

As long as there are millions of people in this country demanding cheap food, these places will be in business. Our environment would not be able to handle that many free ranging birds. I can't imagine how much land 1,500,000 birds would need to free range. Certainly not 4 acres.

Heather in PA

JudiB said...

I don't know if you will see this Bev. I am late posting..OMGosh you KNOW how I feel about all this political farming going on. Never mind the other foods that are being so badly managed.
What is happening in the USA is also happening in Canada. Eggs who would have thought that the government could mess up on EGGS. Leave the farmers to handle what they know best..FARMING!! Chickens in factories..is not farming. Free range has worked for years. What has NOT worked is the Gov. taking over egg production and making it an INDUSTRY..not farming.
I will not go on any further but it makes me MAD!!
There is not enough paper if the word Monsanto is mentioned..another one of my rants.
Thank you for talking about the issue with eggs. Hopefully it helps more people understand we need to GO Back to farming the way it used to be.

Anonymous said...

(I submitted a comment earlier that must have gotten lost...so here it is again.)

I don't like the thought of hens living in factory systems either. But what would the environmental impact be if the 50 billion chickens farmed each year for meat and eggs throughout the world were all free range? All of that nitrogen would eventually find it's way into our waterways causing big problems for already polluted rivers and oceans.

My kid's poultry club toured a state of the art egg laying facility that housed 250,000 chickens per building. There were six chicken houses at that site, for a total of one and a half million birds on less than 4 acres. The birds had plenty to eat, drink, there was zero ammonia smell inside the building. The facility was very clean. My only complaint was the number of hens living in such small cages and the fact that their beaks were cut short to curtail feather picking.

The manure was carried away on conveyors and burned on the site to create electricity in a process that releases zero emmissions. The facility's environmental impact was minimal. A free range operation of one and a half million birds would consume massive amounts of land to operate.

I love my backyard chickens and want all chickens to live a natural life of fresh air, grass and sunshine like everyone commenting here.

BUT-As long as there are billions of people on this planet to feed, factory farms are a necessary evil.The best we can hope for is less crowded conditions for them. I wonder if the average person is willing to pay more for eggs and meat so that factory chickens can lead better lives?

Heather in PA

Jill Cooper said...

Lordy what will I have to stop buying next? The food industry is (or I should say the government is) just crazy! I try to buy local and from a fresh market as often as possible but sometimes it just isn't possible. I hate going to the grocery anymore as my choices are more and more limited because I know more and don't want to eat things that make me unhealthy and feel bad. URGHHHH!

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