For example, CAFO methods require or strongly recommend "All In, All Out" methods. This means than the chicken barns are cleaned, scrubbed, washed, and sanitized so as to remove all microbes from the barn. The empty barn is then filled with day old chicks. People coming in are required to wear sterile boot covers and coveralls, some CAFO farms mandate that workers wear surgical masks, ensuring minimal or no chance of introducing microbes (both helpful and pathogenic) to the chicks. The chicks in this "sterile" environment are raised to full age, then all of the birds are harvested and taken to slaughter. All the birds move together as one flock.
This concept prohibits the separation of a flock into separate sub-flocks, prohibiting the harvesting of part flocks at separate timing.
The "All in-All Out" concept proposes that biosecurity is optimized under the following scenarios:
- Preventing new chicks from introducing infections to an existing flock;
- Existing older flocks likely have disease pathogens, for which the older birds have developed immunity or adequate defenses. These potential diseases from older birds are prevented from being passed to new day-old chicks who have little or no immunity.
- Catching a flock introduces pre-used cages into a "sterile" barn; cages that may be disease laden. Many sub-contractor persons who have just finished catching a flock at another farm and may be carrying pathogens are introduced into a "sterile" barn. For those birds caught and immediately slaughtered, there is insufficient time for those caught birds to become ill from the catching process, but the stress does taint the resulting meat. There is also extreme stress to the birds not caught (they see and hear the screams and flapping of the birds that are caught). They are also exposed to the crates and the catching crew, and have time for those exposures to start incubation. When stressed, most digestive and other hormonal systems are dramatically changed and disrupted. Prior medical conditions and pathogens that had been dormant or in remission suddenly come alive with a vengeance (eg. you tend to develop a cold sore on your lip after being emotionally stressed, lack of sleep, or other illness, even though we usually have adaptive immunity and the virus usually lays dormant within our bodies). The catching process significantly exposes the remaining uncaught birds, and they are left to deal with the consequences, often deadly.
Alternatives to CAFO DysfunctionThe alternative viewpoints against "All-In All Out" are as follows:
Chicken eggs are sterile, free from disease, bacteria, or viruses by definition. If that wasn't true, the eggs would rot and turn bad long before they hatch during a 30 day incubation at warm and moist conditions.
When the fertile & sterile egg eventually hatches, the chick is also free from any microbes.
A "biome" is defined as the complex family of digestive system microbes that live on the feather or skin of the chicken, and/or inside the gut of every member of the flock. There are more cells within the biome than the cells that make up the chicken (eg. feathers, brain, kidney, skin, etc.). If it was majority rule, the biome would win, and the chicken would lose.
In natural chicken life, chickens normally eat chicken poo; their own, their parent's poo, or that of siblings or neighbours. This especially occurs is CAFO chicken factory barns, as the chickens live on top of the poo for their entire life. You may feel that is gross, but that is the life of chickens, and exists for good reasons. It's not only chickens. Dogs will naturally eat horse manure, and sometimes chicken manure. Pigs will eat chicken manure, or cow dung. On feedlots of today, 25% to 75% of a steer's diet is chicken manure or litter (manure and wood shavings scraped from a chicken coop).
On the first pass through the digestive system, only about 33% of the nutrients from the food have been extracted by a chicken's digestive system. The first pass frees up and makes more nutrients bioavailable. Re-eating chicken manure ensures a flock extracts maximum value from the available food.
When a chicken eats chicken poo, this also inoculates every bird's digestive systems, helping share and re-invigorate their digestive systems (ie. thing probiotic, similar to eating yogurt with an active bacterial culture),keeping all members of the flock "normalized". If anybody is exposed to a new microbe, they are all soon exposed to it, so they all develop a shared biome of gut bacteria.
By chicks living under the wing of Mom, they are exposed to the biome on Mom's feathers.
By a chick eating a little of Mom's poo soon after birth (a natural and "planned" occurrence), the chick's digestive system is welcomed to the flock, sharing in the wealth of microbes that the flock has developed over the years.
Flocks with bad or inefficient digestive biomes tend to die off, and are replaced by other flocks with better biomes. Darwin's Law of Natural Selection.
When fertilized eggs are snatched from Mom, and incubated in "sterile" environments, there is no biome available to these chicks. When the day-old chicks are placed in "sterile" barns, they are again denied a natural biome.
The more perfect the hatchery and the CAFO system enforces their biohazard prevention protocols, the more severe and longer in duration is the chick's denial of their biome birthright.
|Figure 1: Image from the movie based upon the life of |
David Vetter, the "Boy In A Bubble". David suffered
from severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), and had
no viable alternative to his bubble. Unfortunately, CAFO
chicken farmers choose this type of "biohazard bubble
technology", a questionable approach when many
better alternatives exist for biohazard risks.
Do you remember David Vetter (1971-1984), better known as the "Boy In The Bubble". David had a congenital disease (SCID) where he had to be protected from every microbe, or die; for David had no immune system.
Why does CAFO chicken technology try to raise millions of chickens inside a biohazard bubble suit?
Would it not be better for all chicks to be allowed to spend some time with their parents, enabling them to receive their birthright biome system from their parents and relatives?
Alternatively, that birthright biome could be cultivated and standardized in the same way that yeast is developed and grown for the bread, beer, yogurt, cheese, and other fermented foods, which is then fed to the chicks soon after they hatch.
Another alternative is the free range or pastured poultry system where the biome is naturally accepted, and shared from one generation to the next by shunning the misguided and dysfunctional systems proposed by CAFO chicken factories.
Dr. Martin Blaser wrote the book Missing Microbes which discusses the growing evidence that modern food and medicine have destroyed the human biome for millions of people, causing or contributing to the growing epidemics of auto-immune diseases (eg. such as Addison's Celiac, Dermatomyositis, Graves', Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Multiple sclerosis, Myasthenia gravis, Pernicious anemia, Reactive arthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren syndrome, Systemic lupus erythematosus, Type I diabetes, etc.), obesity, asthma, cancer, allergies, and possibly many others.
Dr. Blaser discusses the questionable practice of agricultural antibiotic use, and the terrible consequences for humans. It isn't difficult to extrapolate from biome deprived human diseases in his book, to the CAFO chickens who suffer similar fates in CAFO factory barns.
The biome depletion theory (a.k.a. The Hygiene Hypothesis) for humans has been around since 1989 formally, but has been anecdotally discussed for decades before that. The Hygiene Hypothesis has been independently studied and judged to be statistically credible based on known evidence of allergies and morbidity in humans. It is suggested a similar effect can be demonstrated in chickens.
I am not suggesting that farmers should be lazy and leave their animals ankle deep in manure. If the pads on the chicken's feet are ulcerated from standing in manure all day, that is not what I'm suggesting, and is unacceptable conditions that should not occur.
For example, Merck Vererinary Manual states:
"True age-immunity does not occur, but older birds are usually more resistant than young birds because of earlier exposure to infection."and
"A species-specific immunity develops after natural infection, the degree of which largely depends on the extent of infection and the number of reinfections. Protective immunity is primarily a T-cell response."However, if CAFO "Bubble Boy" biohazardous isolation techniques are done in a half baked, slipshod, lackadaisical manner, it might achieve acceptable results; as this would approach what I am suggesting is natural. The more a farmer perfects and is in full compliance with CAFO "Bubble Boy" biohazardous techniques, the greater the risk to humans, and the greater the risk of catastrophic death rates to the chickens if there is one slip-up by the farmer. Hence we see HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza) that kills one third of the US layers flock across hundreds of CAFO farms.
Doesn't seem like CAFO "Bubble Boy" biohazardous isolation techniques can work too well in the real world.
While the chickens are raised inside their biohazard isolation bubble, they must be fed massive doses of antibiotics on a regular basis to help ensure the profits of the CAFO farmer and better "seal" the biohazard isolation bubble around the chicken factories. Those antibiotics often create Superbugs, and infect people, often fatally; for the retail customers cannot and will not live in a bubble. Sooner or later, consumers pay the price for this CAFO Craziness.
Dr. Mercola seems to agree, recommending against CAFO chicken.
Why does CAFO chicken factories insist this flawed approach must be used and further perfected?
Like Canada's Supply Management system, CAFO chicken factories are based on flawed, dysfunctional, and dangerous technologies.
Most small flock farms do not attempt to put chicks into biohazard bubbles. Our chicks get the biome inheritance of their ancestors. Small flocks live clean and healthy lives. There is rarely a need to medicate any individual. There is never a need for massive, continuous dosing with antibiotics. There is no need for a sterile biohazard bubble around free range or pastured poultry.