Friday, May 23, 2014

Sick Chickens Go To Market

When a flock gets sick, the fastest and lowest risk solution is to send those birds to slaughter, passing the problem off onto unsuspecting consumers.  Is this standard procedure for the Chicken Mafia, or just the actions of a rogue chicken farmer?

The reading of government records can yield interesting questions and glimpses behind the curtain.  Sometimes CFIA takes actions, and lays charges against a member of the Chicken Mafia.  The member of Chicken Mafia wants to escape censorship and the resulting fine (2 tickets @ $6,000 per ticket= $12,000 total fine), so they often plead and whine, promising anything that will get them off the hook.  In spite of this, sometimes CFIA sticks to their principles, and won't let the issue die.  The Chicken Mafia member then often chooses to appeal the CFIA charges to the Canada Agricultural Review Tribunal ("CART").  That is where the public gets to see behind the Chicken Mafia curtain of secrecy.

In one case, of which I know nothing except what I read of  the CART decision, a farmer (Peter and Lisa Rombouts, whose farm is located at Bosanquet, ON) was having 80 chickens die per day from some unknown cause.  After suffering these huge losses for a week, the farmer decided to ship his problems off to the abattoir, crystalizing his profits to cash before the whole flock ended up dead.

The farmer called a company (Greidanus Poultry Service Ltd. ) that is in the business of catching birds, loading the chickens into cages, putting them on a truck, and shipping them to the chosen abattoir.

After the first of two trucks were shipped, the farmer disclosed to the trucker that he had had a huge death rate in his flock the week before.  The trucker then examined the farmer's records, and confirmed that this was substantiated.  There is a responsibility that a sick or fragile bird  should not be loaded.

Because this critical info was withheld by the farmer, and/or due diligence by the trucker was delayed or done out of sequence, it is questionable if the birds were properly assessed prior to shipping.

From CRAC's decision, we learn:
"Buttar [an employee of the trucker] told the Tribunal that on that night he did discuss flock health issues with the producer and the producer informed him that there had been a big death loss the week before the loading, up to 80 bird deaths per day during that period, which was verified when Buttar reviewed the producer’s log on the day of the loading."
In cross-examination, Buttar told the Tribunal that the increased mortality at the Rombouts’ farm in the days before the loading was not brought to his attention until the end of the loading process. While this increase was a concern, one of the loaded trucks had already left when this fact was brought to his attention and at any rate he told the Tribunal the decision to send or not to send the truck would be the producer’s or the processor’s. However, Buttar said that as foreman he has an obligation to only load birds that are fit for transport.

Buttar said that the crates into which these large chickens were being loaded that night would hold about nine 4-kg birds, and so, with loading instructions to load only six to seven birds per crate, there would have been room for up to two more birds in each crate.

When asked under cross-examination, Greidanus
[the owner/manager of the trucking company] agreed that about 9,600 chickens were loaded by his crew in around two hours and that it was possible for a loader to load a chicken into the crate on its back, particularly with the heavier chickens. Greidanus added that he would not leave a chicken on its back in a crate but that “everyone is human and it is possible to miss [righting] a chicken [back onto its feet]”.

total length of time from beginning of loading to beginning of processing: 15 hours 45 minutes for first trailer and 18 hours 35 minutes for second trailer

Buttar also stated, however, that at the end of the loading he chatted with the producer and noted that there were at least 60 dead birds and 10 smaller, injured or frail live birds in the producer’s barn which were not loaded for transport by his crew.

The evidence is equally clear that on January 20, 2011, when the birds were unloaded for processing, 334 of the 9,599 birds were dead and of these 156 were found dead on their backs.

"Greidanus told the Tribunal that his company had experienced a lot of problems shipping birds to Quebec because of the increased transport distance and the heavy size of birds that are shipped. The birds now grow so rapidly that they are stressed and it takes so little to make them die, he stated. Greidanus testified that he has seen birds dying in a crate and has seen a bird flip over and die in its crate."

Do other possibilities exist for where and how the injury and death of the chickens took place? Yes, the chickens might have been in a fragile state before loading, as indicated by the producer log sheets, showing a higher than normal mortality rate in the days and weeks before the shipment. The chickens might have experienced increased stress due to their heavy weight, the long distance and the long period of time between the farm of origin and the abattoir, which could have resulted in increased mortality while en route.

Greidanus has his theory that the chickens were large stressed birds that travelled a very long distance and died of a heart attack en route, which may or may not be consistent with the rare phenomenon mentioned by Lefebvre
[chicken Vet] and Fortin [Chicken Vet], which has been observed in chickens called “flip-over disease”.
From all of this, we learn about the razor edge that has been created by the Chicken Mafia's search for maximum profit.

Birds grow so quickly, they face the daily risk of dying from too rapid of a growth.  About 560 birds died the week before shipment (ie. 80/day * 7 days= 560).  Another 334 were DOA (Dead On Arrival) at the abattoir, and 70 birds were left behind as too sick or too frail to ship, and 9,265 made it to the abattoir alive to reach their ultimate purpose of going to slaughter.

It is unknown how many were approved or condemned at the slaughter stage, but I previously showed that it's typically 1.26% (see Condemned Chicken Blog posting of 2013/03/14), where I show that Ontario has a condemnation rate that is "23.3% worse than Atlantic Canada, and 21.7% worse than BC".  If that holds true in this case, 117 birds were condemned during the slaughter process as unfit for human consumption.  Therefore we have a total death or ill toll of 1,081 birds with 9,148 becoming chickens sold, so a loss rate of 10.57%.  In addition, we would have the losses in the early life stage (ie. day old chicks to 5 weeks of age, which can be equally horrific under the Chicken Mafia's system of pseudo agriculture animal husbandry.

When will be learn that the current system designed and practiced by the Chicken Mafia  has become more and more broken as we go down the wrong road.

This is not right, nor sustainable.

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