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Friday, July 31, 2015

CFO's Artisanal Chicken: Conflict of Interest

Second class citizenship isn't a pleasant experience.  Will the Artisanal Chicken Program of Chicken Farmers of Ontario ("CFO") put Small Flockers in a chicken No Man's Land as second class chicken farmers?

CFO has been delegated extensive powers by both the Federal and Provincial Governments.  CFO administers those powers under the Farm Products Marketing Act.  CFO passes By-laws that become Ontario Regulations, with the force of law.  CFO is very powerful for Ontario chicken.

Supply Management is supposed to be self-regulating.  If you are an Ontario chicken farmer, CFO, CFO's Board of Directors, and Provincial District Committee Representatives (DCRs) are elected to serve your interests.

Who serves the interests of Artisanal Chicken Farmers?

CFO's By-laws Section 5 describes the roles & responsibilities of CFO's Directors & Officers, which says:
"5.3   Role of CFO Directors
The Board of Directors, as a whole, is responsible for supervising the management of the business and affairs of CFO.  Each Director participates in fulfilling the Board’s stewardship role by

acting honestly and in good faith with a view to the best interests of CFO (fiduciary duty)

and exercising the care, diligence and skill that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in comparable circumstances (duty of care).

As elected representatives of CFO farmer-members, Directors are responsible for ensuring that the Board fulfills its objectives and mandate for the administration of the Ontario Chicken Producers Marketing Plan and regulations under the Farm Products Marketing Act. Directors do not represent the specific interests of any constituency: Directors act and make decisions that are in the best interests of CFO as a whole."

So this begs the questions:
  1. Are Small Flockers and/or Artisanal Chicken Farmers "CFO farmer-members"?
  2. Will Artisanal Chicken Farmers be allowed to attend CFO meetings?
  3. Will Artisanal Chicken Farmers be allowed to vote for CFO DIrectors, and/or be nominated, run, be elected & hold office as a CFO Director?
  4. Will Artisanal Chicken Farmers be allowed to vote for Provincial District Committee Representatives (DCRs), and/or be nominated, run, be elected. & hold office as a Provincial District Committee Representatives (DCRs)?
  5. Will Artisanal Chicken Farmers be allowed to make, second, discuss, and vote for CFO motions, pleas for relief, and similar actions at CFO's AGM and other meetings, or directly to CFO's Board?
  6. Under what circumstances will Artisanal Chicken Farmers be sacrificed for the greater good of CFO and its farmer-members?
  7. Does the Artisanal Chicken Program put CFO and its Directors, and its DCR's into a conflict of interest with Artisanal Chicken farmers?  What are the detailed reasons, logic, and objective facts that support the answer to this important question?
  8. What will CFO's Board do is one farmer-member makes a motion at the CFO AGM to end the Artisanal Chicken program, another farmer-member seconds the motion, and a majority of farmer-members vote in favor?
It seems to me that Small Flockers and Artisanal Chicken Farmers are and will be in competition with the CFO's farmer-members.  What 's good for Artisanal Chicken farmers is not necessarily good for the CAFO quota-bearing CFO farmer-members.  Doing what is best overall for CFO is not necessarily fair, nor best for Artisanal Chicken Farmers.

Are Artisanal Chicken farmers stepping into a position as a second class chicken farmer, with no representation, no powers, no voice?  This sounds risky and un-democratic.

As an alternative, perhaps the Artisanal Chicken Program should be created by a ruling, order, or regulation passed by Ontario's Farm Product Marketing Commission ("OFPMC"), and CFO gets delegated the responsibility and authority to administer the 3 separate programs for all three groups of farmers (quota, Artisanal, and Small Flock) on an equal and fair basis.

If this isn't done, somebody will get burned when a conflict of interest arises; which will be continuously.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Caveat Emptor of Artisanal Chicken

I have already thanked Chicken Farmers of Ontario ("CFO") for allowing this opportunity of Artisanal Chicken to come forward, but all Small Flockers need prudence, perform due diligence, and excercise caution for CFO's Artisanal Chicken Program.

How much of an opportunity it really is will eventually be learned down the road.  On that basis, I worked till 2:00 AM to read everything CFO disclosed on this program, then submitted my Artisanal Chicken application with trust and hope stretched to the limit.

I'm in the queue line, but I can always leave the lineup later on and remain a Small Flocker under the "Family Food" exemption as we slowly learn what is behind the door we have applied to enter.  I suggest all Small Flockers should consider this cautionary, tentative plan with a clear exit strategy.

When a fox invites a Small Flock rooster to come to the fox's den for dinner, it is prudent to ask what's on the menu before accepting the dinner invitation.

For example, CFO has dangled the carrot that the Artisanal Chicken program will be allocated 5% of the chicken market growth that CFO achieved the previous year.

What CFO doesn't say is that 95% of the growth automatically goes to the kits of Mama Fox.  CFO also doesn't disclose what happens if there is no growth in the previous year.

No quota growth could happen due to weather, economic recession, Bird Flu, rogue CAFO chicken farmers or processors who get caught by animal rights activists or CFIA food inspectors, a fight at the Chicken Farmers of Canada Board where 6 out of the 10 provinces vote to refuse Ontario any quota increase, or a hundred of other reasons.

With no quota growth, CFO's allocation to Artisanal Chicken goes to zero (ie. 5% of zero equals zero), and Small Flockers who made the investment into Artisanal Chicken are summarily executed.  The following year, the door to the fox's den is opened again, the welcome mat is put out, and the fox awaits the next group of Small Flockers to blindly trust & enter.

That may not be the intention of CFO, but it is a reasonable interpretation of what CFO has said so far, and requires some clarification by CFO for prudent Small Flockers before they enter the fox's den.

Unfortunately, this is just one of dozens of other risks that the Artisanal Chicken program currently contains.

Caveat Emptor ("let the buyer beware")

Glenn Black, President
Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

3000 chickens for Ontario's Small Flockers

As startling as it may sound, Chicken Farmers of Ontario ("CFO") just posted on their website (as of late yesterday Jul 28, 2015) the Artisan Chicken Program, where Small Flockers in Ontario will be able to raise between 600 to 3,000 chickens per year for select target markets such as retail customers, restaurants, or local farmer markets.  Small Flock Exemption for 1 to 300 birds per year will be re-labeled as Family Food program and continue as before.

"Play fair, be prepared for others to play dirty, and don't let
them drag you into the mud.
"   Richard Branson, (1950 - ),
English businessman and investor. He is best known as the
founder of Virgin Group, which comprises more
than 400 companies
First, let us count our blessings and give thanks.  I have already sent an email to Michael Edmonds, CFO's Director of Communications and Government Relations, saying:

"Thank-you for bringing this program for all of Ontario's small flock poultry farmers, and the people of Ontario who want and need safe, nutritious, affordable, and locally produced chicken."

You can email or phone Michael too:   Email Michael   Phone: (289).288.4223

I and SFPFC has been lobbying on behalf of Small Flockers and all Canadians for 3 years, others have been at it for far longer. We sought, in addition to other pleas for relief, for raising our Small Flocker exemption from 300 to 2,000 birds per year, but we ended up getting 3,000 birds per year. 

How's that for results!

Small Flockers who are happy in their personal niche sub-300 birds per year can stay there, undisturbed.  Perfect!

CFO passed CFO By-law 212-2015 for Artisanal Chicken as of July 28, 2015.
 
CFO Applications for Artisan Chicken forms must be submitted prior to Friday September 4, 2015. 
Applications will be considered in the order in which they are received, until the allocation available in any year is reached.

That means first come, first served.  I informed all SFPFC members of the good news at Tuesday July 28, 2015 at 7:52 PM, then I started filling out my application form for 3,000 birds, which I submitted to CFO at 9:44 PM Tuesday.  Fair is fair.

Get your application submitted ASAP.  Snooze, you lose.

CFO said, "The available allocation for Artisan Chicken will be 5% of the previous year’s growth."  When they say "growth", do they mean the total allocated quota received from Chicken Farmers of Canada ("CFC")?  If not, does that mean that if Ontario's chicken consumption enters 0% growth for some year for whatever reason, the Artisan Chicken Program will come to an end the next year?  That doesn't seem fair, nor reasonable.  I wonder what CFO really meant to say?

Applications will be processed and initial premises inspections conducted between September 2015 and November 2015. There is no set number of farmers that will accepted into the new program.  Successful applicants will be informed in early December 2015.

CFO said, "Chicken grown under this Policy is not to be marketed for home consumption."

Elsewhere, CFO said,
"The chicken grown under the Artisanal Chicken program and Local Niche Markets program will be counted against Ontario’s national allocation as set out by Chicken Farmers of Canada. Chicken grown under the Family Food program (previously the Small Flock Program) is exempt from the national allocation system as it is intended for home consumption and not considered commercial product."
It seems CFO has now defined (or always defined) that small flock farm gate chicken sales are not "commercial".  Good to know, all yea Small Flockers.  That CFC-CFO definition may come in handy down the road.

CFO said, "Artisanal chicken marketed under this program must be marketed at a price not less than the Minimum Live Price determined under Ontario Regulation 402"  The current minimum live price is $1.563/kg for a 2 kg bird.  Assuming 0.68 kg eviscerated per kg of live weight, that is equivalent to $2.30/kg of eviscerated meat ($5.06/lb.).

CFO said, "CFO has established an Annual Production Licence Fee of 20¢ per quality chick placed. CFO and CFC fees and levies are also payable at 3.6¢ and 1.2¢ per chick respectively. These are payable when the license is issued."

The total is $0.248 per chick placed.  Assuming a 5% chick mortality, the chick placing fee becomes $0.26 per live bird sent to slaughter, or $0.13/kg live, or $0.19/kg of eviscerated meat.  Assuming 1.5% of all birds slaughtered are condemned (unfit for food), that fee becomes $0.194/kg ( $0.427/lb) of eviscerated meat that can be sold.

CFO said, "Overproduction above 5% will result in a financial penalty of $1.00 /bird and impact consideration of future licences."

CFO also said they have plans for a "Local Niche Markets Program.  This program offers interested farmers the opportunity to support those larger niche or regional markets of 6,000 chickens or more per year. This is an application and quota based program.  More details on this program will be announced at a later date."

I found it very interesting that the CFO By-law calls for an "Artisanal Chicken Abattoir".


Obviously, there are many more questions that must be found, expressed to CFO, and that must be answered eventually.

There are some SM quota people who are organic, and who do pastured poultry.  We now have, or will get the express, included right to pastured poultry too; if not now, then soon.  It may take some more "discussions".  I plan to, and hope CFO will be willing to work co-operatively with us.

For some Small Flockers contemplating what to do, the added bureaucracy, paperwork, arbitrary and conflicting and contradictory and ambiguous statements and requirements by CFO under Artisanal Chicken may cause bewilderment, stress, and fear.  The "interesting" requirements of CFO's fine print include:
  • On-Farm Food Safety Assurance Program ("OFFSAP") compliance (including HACCP, risk management, and biosecurity);
  • On-farm audits, planned and surprise
     
  • Animal Care Program compliance;
     
  • Farm Worker Safety Program compliance
  • CFO's Infectious Poultry Disease Isolation Policy compliance
  • CFO's Digital Communication and Transactions Regulation compliance
  • Licence Fees, Levies, Service Charges and Penalties Regulation compliance
  • Artisanal chicken farmers will be active partners in growing the Artisanal Chicken Business Community by funding community development  and program related costs [SFPFC: more overhead costs]
     
  •  Produce birds with a reference weight of 2.225 kilogram live weight [SFPFC:   it is unclear what happens if our Artisanal customers want different weights of birds than CFO's "reference weight"]
  • CFO may take similar action against every other artisanal chicken business community partner(s)who has been a party with an artisanal chicken farmer to any growing and marketing of artisanal chicken contrary to this Policy [SFPFC:   guilt by association, how far will the witch hunt go?]
Perhaps SFPFC can play a role to develop templates that will fit most Small Flockers who apply under Artisanal Chicken.  This could be done on a cost shared basis for SFPFC members, saving everybody time & money.

We have until 2016 to get all our ducks in a row.

We can do it if we all work together.

Friday, July 24, 2015

TPP Trade Treaty Tornado

Things are heating up in Hawaii for the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership ("TPP") talks, now in the final round.

Some, like me, see TPP as a possible escape route away from the good intentioned Supply Management system that during the last 50 years, has slowly morphed into a terrible, dysfunctional, tyrannical Frankenstein monster.

Others, like me, have serious concerns about TPP being nothing more than fascist corporatism who shape and control TPP talks so they can control the world, maximize their profits, run roughshod over domestic industries, and enslave the people.

CNC News has done a reasonable summary of the TPP talks current status.

I suggest there is another alternative.

Fix Canada's Supply Management system.

Here is SFPFC's comments added to the other 600+ comments posted there:

There are about 17,000 Canadian farms that work under Supply Management, which are just 8% of all of Canada's farms.

Federal and provincial governments have delegated special powers to these 17,000 farmers, who have used those special powers to become multi-millionaires by gouging Canadians with over-priced foods.

Under Supply Management, 17,000 farms get huge benefits while 35 million Canadians suffer, forced to pay 38% to 300% more for eggs, chicken, turkey, and dairy than what the rest of the world pays.

Other Canadian farmers, such as the 60,000 or so small flock poultry farmers in Canada, have their civil rights stripped away and are oppressed by a small special interest group of 2,700 Supply Management chicken farmers (just 4.5% of all Canadian chicken farmers), so the SM minority can have their 99.97% market share monopoly on chicken.

The Canadian governments should change Supply Management rules, so that it serves the Canadian people, not the 17,000 special interest multi-millionaire farmers.

Glenn Black, President
Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada
http://canadiansmallflockers.blogspot.ca/

Hopefully the public wakes up, studies the situation carefully, then let's their government know what should be done.

To hasten the process, here are some important email addresses for you.

A customized email, ready to send as is, or you can modify it to suit your personal insights:
Email your opinion to All Federal Party Leaders

Alternatively, you can contact the Leader of your choice:

stephen.harper@parl.gc.ca
thomas.mulcair@parl.gc.ca
justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca
Elizabeth.May@parl.gc.ca

Monday, July 13, 2015

Halal Hen Hoax

Ramadan will conclude in another 4 days, but has been marked by slimy people who commit or enable a Halal Hoax for chicken, or other meats.
Halal is an Arabic word meaning "lawful" or "permissible" (the opposite of haraam, which means "unlawful" or "forbidden").

While people fast during the days of Ramadan, they also have to watch out for fake Halal meats at night.

Global News previously reported on fake Halal meats in Canada:
“Halal is really important to uphold a Muslim’s spirituality, the acceptance of our worship in the eyes of God is dependent on it, that we’re only consuming Halal,” says Omar Subedar, a Toronto-area imam who serves as the secretary general and official spokesperson of the Halal Monitoring Authority ("HMA").
. . .
Subedar says that revelations from [a prior] investigation led to the formation of the HMA, which maintains a comprehensive listing of Halal-certified producers, brands and restaurants.
The next step for Subedar and his fellow imams is to  create an official, national governing body to regulate the certification of Halal products.
There is a growing Muslim population in Canada, especially around Toronto and the GTA.  Lack of supply and demanding customers entices the unscrupulous to buy or create fake Halal meats.

Some feel that Halal is solely concerned about the killing process.  Others believe that the entire life cycle of the animal is important, culminated with the proper prayer and process at the abattoir.  If you are looking for "best in class" animal welfare, you may be interested in small flock pasture raised chicken.  Check out the Mission, Vision, and Principles of SFPFC.  We believe these Principles of SFPFC are clear, open, comprehensive, and effective; unlike the secret, voluntary compliance or non-compliance, ambiguous, superficial, unverified, conflicting, or non-existent principles of the commercial chicken producers in Ontario (see CFO), and Canada-wide (see CFC). 

HMA reported:
"In March 2004 the Jami’yyatul Ulama Canada (CCMT) received complaints from the muslim community and from certain individuals from the halal industry that many things within the industry are not in compliance with halal guidelines. Subsequently, the Halal Foods Department carried out inspections in 4 meat slaughter plants, 13 poultry slaughter plants, 7 further processing plants and several meat & poultry retailers, all of which are the major suppliers of halal consumables within the GTA."
The HMA's certification trademark that will be on the label
of all foods certified by HMA
Any meat products must come from animals which have undergone a prescribed method of slaughtering (known as dhabihah) in order to be considered halal.
In brief, the Halal method of slaughtering animals consists of using a well sharpened knife to make a swift, deep incision that cuts the front of the throat, the carotid artery, wind pipe and jugular veins but leaves the spinal cord intact. The blood is to be completely drained from the body before its meat is cut. The head of an animal that is slaughtered using halal methods is aligned with the qiblah (ie. facing Mecca).  In addition to the direction, permitted animals should be slaughtered in the name of Allah (the Lord) and the person who is slaughtering should be a Muslim and he/she should be in a good mental condition and faith. All these steps have to be completed to render the meat edible for Muslims' consumption.

The long list of problems discovered led the Halal Food Dept. of the Canadian Council of Muslim Theologins to create HMA.  In turn, HMA's methods have been examined and endorsed by 41 different Imams and Islamic Scholars from across Canada.

So far, HMA has certified 4 poultry abattoirs, and 3 further processors for chicken (eg. chicken nuggets).

Halal has similar standards and requirements to kosher.  Kosher specifies how the animal must be slaughtered, but Halal adds spiritual requirements as well.  Inspection and certification of kosher is a more mature system than the newer Halal certification system.
Trademarks that may be displayed on kosher products sold
in Canada, showing the food producer has passed the
necessary auditing and certification for designation as kosher.


Late last year, the owners of a halal beef supplier in Iowa were charged with selling $4.9 million in beef that prosecutors said did not follow the halal practices it promised.

Some other fraudulent Halal cases have occurred: 
  • In November 2011, a supermarket chain in Anaheim, California, paid fines of $527,000 after it sold regular meat as halal.
  • A wholesaler in England was fined nearly $100,000 last year after investigators caught the company putting the halal label on chicken that was traced to a supplier that did not sell halal meat.
  •  A manager pleaded guilty to directing workers at the Midamar Corp. to repackage beef products from a slaughterhouse that wasn’t approved for export to Malaysia and Indonesia.  The company has denied wrongdoing and moved to dismiss the case, arguing the charges violate the US First Amendment for "free speech".  Islamic Services of America, which certified halal beef for Midamar, said the U.S. government can’t enforce religious slaughter protocols.

Backyard Eggs for Minto

The Municipality of Minto, 80 km North of Kitchener, is considering allowing backyard chickens for eggs.

We support this proposed Minto By-law change so that people can have affordable, high quality eggs.  But what about meat birds?  Why are meat birds set aside as a forgotten option?

Do the bureaucrats think that nobody is interested in meat?  Are meat birds considered to be a greater nuisance (eg. noise, disease, smell, or something else)?  DO the Councillors worry about the thin wedge of allowing meat birds will improperly encourage people to be doing backyard slaughtering?

I would also like to know why meat birds, especially pastured poultry, are not being considered?  Small flock, pasture raised meat birds are significantly better than those provided by the commercial chicken system.  I know of no reason to exclude meat birds from consideration.  If you have data to the contrary, I'd appreciate receiving a copy of these data.

If anybody has answers to why this proposal for backyard eggs but no chicken meat, we'd love to hear the answers.

Eggs are "Nature's Little Vitamin Pill", but man does not live by eggs alone.  Eggs are good to eat, but so are small flock pastured meat birds.

In 2013, Canadians ate 21.35 dozen eggs per person (see Ag Canada's website  ).

The average household is around 4 persons (typically 2 parents and 2 children), so a household would consume a total of 85.4 dozens (ie. 1025 eggs per year, or 2.8 eggs per day).  Most layers produce at 28 hrs per egg (ie. 80% daily yield), so this would require at least 3.5 chicken.  Five chickens would allow for cracked eggs not suitable for human consumption, cold weather yield losses, and similar problems.

This proposed 5 bird limit allows for the "typical" family.  What about "non-typical" families?  I therefore suggest that residents be allowed to approach Council for special permission to exceed the 5 bird limit under sufficient circumstances.

Meat Birds

The average small flock in Ontario is 57 meat birds per year.

Canadian average chicken meat consumption is 30.7 kg of chicken per year per person.  Assuming a family of 4 people, they would need 122.8 kg/yr.  Assuming the kg. eviscerated meat to live weight ratio of 0.6863 kg/kg, this family would need 122.8/0.6863= 178.93 kg/yr of live chickens.  Assuming 2 kg/live bird at slaughter, this is 89.5 birds.  The typical mortality rate from day-old chicks to full grown 2 kg birds may be 5%, so they would have to buy 94 chicks.

I would recommend that the Minto By-law permit each family to raise 100 meat birds per year.  Pastured poultry can and should be grown at a slower rate than the breakneck speed of chicken factory farms, so this may require 8 weeks per growout.  They can be raised in the coop &/or outdoors in pastures from May to October, a 6 month window (24 weeks), allowing 3 growout periods per year.  It would be far less work to raise all the chickens in one big flock, but it could be done in 3 flocks of 33 birds per flock.

Please Tell Minto

I have sent this info to Mr. Bill White, CAO at Minto, and he has graciously responded that he will forward the info to Council.

We encourage all our readers to reach out in support for the planned consideration of backyard, small flock eggs for Minto.

Minto Municipal Services
CAO/Clerk Bill White
5941 Highway 89
Harriston, ON N0G 1Z0

bwhite@town.minto.on.ca 
Phone: 519-338-2511
Fax: 519-338-2005
Minto Website: town.minto.on.ca

Monday - Friday 8:30am - 5:00pm






Thursday, July 9, 2015

Chicken: Factory, Pastured, or Organic

There is a great debate about the merits of the three main categories of chicken that are available:
  • Factory Chicken, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation ("CAFO"), or Commercially Produced
  • Pastured Poultry, usually raised by Small Flock Poultry Farmers
  • Organic Chicken (used to be soley available from Small Flockers, but more and more by CAFO commercial chicken factory farms
Click on the image for a full size version.
Many thanks to Murray Stenton, a great graphic artist and cartoonist,
and a friend of Small Flockers everywhere.

CAFO Chicken

The CAFO chicken factory is all about making the maximum possible profit in the shortest possible time, regardless of the consequences.

No Environmental Assessment

 The CAFO chicken factories are easy to spot.  They typically have large chicken factory barns buildings, bigger than football fields, all under one roof.  You will rarely see just one barn on a CAFO farm.  There are usually 6 to 8 barns on each CAFO farm, all the same size, about a football field each.

There is a magical number of chickens that are allowed on a CAFO chicken factory under government regulations.  If you exceed that magical number, you must do an Environmental Assessment before you can build, renovate, or expand that CAFO chicken factory.  Environmental assessments mean public hearings, pesky government technicians who want to ensure the environment isn't damaged, and the alerting of nosy neighbours who always have an opinion on what the CAFO chicken factory should & shouldn't be allowed to do.

Whatever you do, a CAFO chicken factory must avoid an environmental assessment.

That's why the chicken factory will be designed to have 1 chicken less than the magical number of chickens that mandates an environmental assessment.

Air Pollution

There are giant air inlet fans at one end of the chicken factory barns, and exhaust outlets at the other end.  The exhaust air flow runs almost always (24/7/365).  The CAFO chicken factory exhaust air is filled with dust (eg. dry chicken manure particles, bits of feathers, dandruff from 100,000 chickens, toxic and irritating ammonia gas from the chicken's manure decomposition, bacteria, viruses, drug residues, etc.), and lots more.  All of that "crap" is conveniently carried away by the big fans, then the wind; helping make the air inside the chicken factory to be survivable for the birds.

Unfortunately, that dust and vapors can effect people, animals, and the environment who are downwind of that spewing exhaust system.  Studies have shown that everybody downwind in a 10 mile radius (or further) get contaminated with the CAFO crud spewed into the air; possibly or usually including deadly E.coli, Salmonella, Avian Influenza, and other pathogens.  Anybody who lives, works, or passes through that zone of contamination downwind from every CAFO chicken factory may have significant health consequences.

Late Night Dining

The lights inside the barns are kept on for 16 to 18 hrs per day, sometimes longer.  If the lights were turned off, or turned down low, the birds would naturally go to sleep when they became tired.  A sleeping bird isn't eating.  A bird that isn't eating isn't growing as fast as possible.  If the chicken's growth rate is slowed, it takes that much longer for the bird to reach their kill weight, which means the farmer can't raise as many flocks in the year, which costs the farmer lost revenue.

The lights are kept blazing well past the bird's natural bed time.  How do you feel, how do your kids perform when they don't get their proper sleep. It's the same for chickens, except they are forced to do it every day for their entire lives.

Sickness and Death

The animals are all genetically identical, so if one gets ill, likely all of them will quickly get ill from the same germ.  The chickens live 24/7 for their entire lives standing on or laying down on their own filth, unable to escape.  All of that manure is rotting, producing ammonia gas and other by-products that burn their eyes and lungs.

To keep the birds alive and maximize CAFO profits in spite of the terrible CAFO chicken factory conditions, the birds are usually fed a continuous diet of antibiotics, dietary supplements, and secret potions. There are significant consequences for the animals from the chemical soup that is fed to these trapped birds, as well as the meat quality that eventually is produced as human food.  The CAFO witch's brew is added directly to the chicken's feed and/or water, so no chicken can escape being medicated.

Some of the medicines and antibiotics used on CAFO chicken factories are important for human health, and are supposed to be reserved for exclusive use by medical doctors to cure human disease.  Many CAFO chicken factories ignore polite requests to refrain from using antibiotics that are important to humans.  Nobody knows for sure, but some CAFO chicken factories may even use banned or illegal substances if they believe it will put an extra dollar in their pocket.

The antibiotics tend to create Superbugs, bacteria with resistance to 1 or more antibiotics

In spite of (or because of) the toxic tonics fed to the chickens, a significant portion of the birds are sick, disabled, or die from the poor living conditions in the CAFO chicken factory barn.  More birds yet will get condemned at the slaughter plant as being unfit for human food.  The CAFO chicken factory sees these deaths and diseases as a necessary evil, well worth the $ cost and inconvenience, as long as the owners achieve their premium profits.

I'll stop there.  There is a lot more, but I think you get the point.

Pastured Poultry

Pastured poultry are chickens that live most of their lives on live, green, lush grasses growing under the sun, winds, and rain on a real, dirt farm.

Pastured poultry is all about the chickens having a wonderful live each and every day, except the last day (ie. the day they go to slaughter).  All their lives, even on slaughter day, the chickens are treated with dignity, respect, and the best possible care until the very last moment, then they are killed humanely so they can fulfill their life purpose.

Those who practice and/or eat Pastured Poultry believe that birds which are happy and well cared for will have the best health possible, and will subsequently produce the best tasting, most nutritious meats and eggs.

With the sun, wind, and rain the grass grows vigorously, with the bugs, earthworms and others that live in the lucious pasture grasses will supply the chickens with 40% of their nutrition.  The balance of the feed is normal commercial chicken feed.

Every morning the cages that protect the chickens from predators are moved forward onto clean, fresh grass; similar to changing the diapers on each chicken.  This provides fresh food source and a clean environment, thereby minimizing the risk of disease or malnutrition.

If the feed and the grasses are so certified, this same system can be used to produce organic chicken.

Organic Chicken

More and more each month, Big Ag. and Big Food seize tighter and tighter control over the organic standard, rules, enforcement, auditing, interpretations, and usage.  Slow but sure, this designation is being turned and twisted before our eyes into another mechanism to control the people's food, and provide higher profits and lower risk to those who manipulate and hide behind the organic designation.

This propaganda and mirage of good and wholesome foods has become a symbol for elitism, high food prices, and unaffordability.  Those who tirelessly struggled for decades, slaving for the ideals behind organic food have been swept away by corporate expediency, mutation, and an organic coup d'├ętat.

Still some worship at the organic alter, unaware of the insidious changes and slight of hand that have occurred.  Hopefully they will soon come to realize that they and the organic movement have been highjacked and compromised.

Until that day arrives, we have a hollowed out concept that hardly lives up to the original ideals.

In spite of this, some aspects of organic are still better that the CAFO chicken factories.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Poultry Hatcheries Infect Small Flockers

A rash of Salmonella infections has made numerous small flock and backyard poultry owners sick.  The US Centre for Disease Control (CDC") reports the following facts:
  • 181 people infected, 33 hospitalized, none dead;
  • Outbreaks started as early as Feb. 20 2015 and continue to today and beyond;
  • Infections are spread across 40 States in the USA;
  • 4 simultaneous outbreaks (40 people across 16 States, 69 people across 30 States, 56 people across 16 States; 16 people across 8 States);
  • 9 different strains of Salmonella are involved;
  • 86% of the infected persons reported contact with poultry prior to becoming sick;
  • 95 ill people have been interviewed so far to trace the source of these infections;
  • 67% of the ill people who had purchase records available, reported purchasing live baby poultry from 17 different feed supply stores and hatcheries spread across multiple States;
  • Multiple hatcheries have been identified as the source of the infected chicks and ducklings;
  • None of the Salmonella strains are Superbugs (ie. resistant to 1 or more antibiotics)
  • Many of the ill people report cuddling, kissing, or having the poultry inside their homes
It is unknown why or how multiple hatcheries are simultaneously or serially involved.  Is there a common source for the Salmonella that infected all of these 4 hatcheries?  University of Kentucky lists about 90 hatcheries who serve Small Flockers in the USA.  As more infection data comes in and/or our understanding improves, will more of these hatcheries be implicated with Salmonella poisoning?  Only time will tell.

In Canada, Canadian Hatchery Egg Producers ("CHEP") says there are 240 broiler hatching egg farmers in eight provinces across Canada.  There are even more who do other eggs than broiler chickens.  Only 12 of those hatcheries are HACCP (ie. biosecurity & food safety) certified by CFIA.

CDC offers the following recommendations for backyard poultry to protect against Salmonella infections.

Cuddling, kissing, or having the poultry inside your homes (rather than keeping the poultry in an outdoor coop) significantly raise the risk of infecting humans, and are not recommended.

Hands should be thoroughly washed with soap & water before handling poultry (to protect the birds), and washed again after you are finished handling poultry (to protect the people).  Never, ever kiss or cuddle poultry, nor touch your face with hands that might be infected with Salmonella.

Also, in addition to the Salmonella that could be lurking there, be aware that some hatcheries purposefully place drugs on the chick's yellow fluff feathers, the drug dries on the chick's fluff, then other chicks will peck off the drug and eat it, thereby becoming dosed with the prescribed chicken drug.


Epidemic Spread Timeline for Salmonella Infections in Backyard Poultry in USA

Vaccination of chicken flocks against Salmonella can be done, but we don't know if this was done by these hatcheries.  Vaccination against salmonella only reduces the risk by 1/3 to 1/2 for the flock's Salmonella incidence rate of what occurs among non-vaccinated flocks (see http://aem.asm.org/content/76/23/7820.full ).  Were these Salmonella outbreaks a case of stopping vaccination programs for the infected chicks, or were we just lucky prior to this? Today, we have no answers.

It seems to me that these small flocks were cross-contaminated from the same source:  the hatcheries who provided the Salmonella contaminated chicks.

Small Flockers have little or no capability to detect, prevent, or mitigate the risks from an infected supply (chicks or otherwise) that is purchased by a Small Flock farmer.  Small Flockers trust (perhaps too much) that their suppliers will provide healthy, non-contaminated chicks, feed, supplies, etc.

Allowing (or encouraging) family or visitors to kiss baby chicks, or not wash hands before or after contact with farm animals is a breach of biosecurity protocols, whether on Small Flock farms, or commercial chicken factories.  High risk behaviours that are strongly recommended against.