Monday, November 9, 2015

Flawed CAFO Chicken

The Chicken Mafia promote and use flawed CAFO (Cincentrated Animal Feeding Facilities) as the one and only system for raising chickens.

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.
If you drink of the CAFO Kool-Aid offered by the Chicken Mafia, all of the above might seem reasonable at first blush.  However, as you dig deeper, the dysfunction and wrong-headed assumptions in the Chicken Mafia's CAFO fairy tale become more and more evident.

Alternatives to CAFO Dysfunction

The 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."
"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.

Friday, November 6, 2015

HPAI Ban Impact on Broiler Chicken

Canada can, and should learn some lessons from the 2015 HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza) infection in the North American poultry industry.  Will we?  That remains a big, important question without a good answer.

What is the impact, on US and Canada, from HPAI and the resulting bans on US chicken by CFIA?

Numerous reports show a devastating impact on the US poultry industry.  One third of US egg layers were lost to HPAI, by either disease or culling to stop the spread of the disease.  Meatingplace reports that 5 major broiler chick hatcheries are breaking eggs (ie. destroying their eggs) rather than hatching them for a market that no longer exists.

At the height of the HPAI outbreak, 57% of US broiler production was banned from Canada due to HPAI.
As of Sept. 1st, 2015 CFIA updated its ban on all chicken associated with 8 remaining US States, removing California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington as being clear of HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza).  Today, 34.6% of the US broiler production remains banned from Canada.

It's not just Canada that has banned US chicken.

The export market for US broiler chickens has disappeared due to HPAI bans on US chicken exports. reports that 20% of the prior US broiler chicken export market has disappeared, mainly due to HPAI.  Global Meat News reports that this loss is worth $390 million per year.  Ouch!

Businesss Insider reports that total bans of US chicken (whether the State was HPAI infected or not) have been imposed by China, South Korea and Angola, whose markets were valued at nearly $700 million last year.  Double Ouch!

All it takes is one HPAI biohazardous-ignorant idiot to cause a total ban for the entire nation.  Triple Ouch!

Canada is part of that ban on US chicken.  Table 1 shows 2014 data for the US broiler industry, and the impact of the ongoing Canadian ban.

Table 1:  Broiler chicken production and processing by US States
under HPAI ban by CFIA.  Banned US States (red coloured)
represent 34.6% of US broiler production, 6.2% of US broiler chicken
processing, for a total impact of 9.1% of the US broiler industry.  The States
newly released from the CFIA ban (green coloured) had 23% of the US chicken
production and 4% of the US chicken processing, for a total of 27% of the
total US broiler chicken industry.  HPAI affected States (currently banned and
previously banned) had 57% of US broiler production, 10% of the broiler
processing, for a total of 36% of the total US broiler $ economic impact.  How
will the US broiler industry respond to this ongoing broiler ban by CFIA?
In Table 1, banned US States (red coloured) represent 34.6% of US broiler production, 6.2% of US broiler chicken processing, for a total impact of 9.1% of the US broiler industry total economic impact.  The States newly released from the CFIA ban (green coloured) had 23% of the US chicken production and 4% of the US chicken processing, for a total of 27% of the total US broiler chicken industry.  HPAI affected States (currently banned and previously banned) had 57% of US broiler production, 10% of the broiler processing, for a total of 36% of the total US broiler $ economic impact.

The CFIA ban includes eggs, live birds, meat, feathers, and all non-cooked or non-commercially sterilized chicken products that originate or are processed in the banned US States.  That's pretty comprehensive.  How will the US broiler industry respond to this ongoing US ban by CFIA?

Figure 1:   Map showing the CFIA ban on US chicken due to HPAI.  Green States have been removed
from ban as of 2015-09-01 as they are now HPAI-free.  The red States are still banned as of 2015-09-01.
 The infected States can't ship to non-infected States, and can't export out of the US, so they are left with the consumers and processors within their own State as their only available customers.  The non-banned States can export to Canada, but it's likely a longer way to the Canadian market (likely at a higher cost), but an opportunity to establish a relationship with Canadian customers who lost access to their normal chicken supplier due to the HPAI import ban.

NRDC reports that ten large companies, referred to as "Integrators" (eg. Tyson, Perdue, Pilgrim, etc.), produce more than 90 percent of the USA poultry.  The individual farmers enter into a contract with one Integrator to supply them full grown chickens ready for slaughter.  The Integrator supplies to each farmer the day old chicks, feed, medicine, and expertise; and audits the farmer's performance to ensure it meets the Integrator's contractual requirements.

This Blog previously reported that 85% of all HPAI infections in the USA occurred at CAFO chicken factories, in spite of the vast majority of chicken flocks being small non-CAFO producers (ie. Small Flockers).  I also previously reported that there are strong reasons to believe that CAFO chicken farmers are shooting themselves in the foot, causing or contributing to their HPAI infections due to poor biohazardous protocols by CAFO chicken factories.

Therefore I suggest the following lessons for Canada's Chicken Mafia:

  1. Biohazardous risks have severe economic impacts that go way beyond just the few who become infected.  Everybody suffers, even the nation as a whole.

  2. Canada's CAFO-based Chicken Mafia is its own worst enemy.  CAFO chicken factory technology is significantly flawed for biohazardous risks, and many other reasons.  CAFO needs to be abandoned, or dramatically improved.

  3. Since Canada's Chicken Mafia is content to rape the Canadian public on an ongoing basis, and mostly ignores world export opportunities, the impact of HPAI infections today is mostly limited to the farms that become HPAI infected.  If Canada, through TPP or otherwise, starts to export considerable quantities of chicken, the risk exposure for Provinces (or all of Canada) dramatically increases due to the resulting export ban for an entire region, Province, or Canada-wide.

  4. .Biohazard risks (ie. HPAI infections and all similar incidents) cause an entire industry to be no better than its weakest link.  That means Canadian governments (both Federal and Provincial) and the Chicken Mafia SM bureaucracy need to focus their efforts first and foremost on the weakest links, identifying them, helping them improve, or mitigating their threats to the entire industry by weeding them out of the industry.
  5. Spent chicken importers who cheat on the SM system (ie. pretend it's spent fowl when they're really broilers, to save the 285% import duties) don't play by the rules, they are motivated by the almighty dollar.  If they are willing to mis-label chicken as spent fowl, they are likely willing to mis-label as to the State of origin or processing; thereby bypassing CFIA's HPAI ban. If a producer is in a banned area, they may be willing to take a significant price cut if someone is able to spirit away his banned chicken in the middle of the night; thereby adding additional economic incentive to the Chicken Cheater.  This cheating puts everybody at risk, but Canada's Chicken Mafia and their friends are not concerned about the risk, as the profits are too great, and their personal risk exposure is significantly compensated by the Federal Government, the Chicken Mafia, and/or others.  We can therefore expect to see some significant movements and possibly some significant "incidents" on spent fowl and IREP (Import for Re-Export) chicken while this CFIA ban is in place for US chicken from these 8 remaining States.
Please leave your comments on my five points of learning, and any additional learning points that you think are important.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

CFO's Stonewalling of Artisanal Chicken Answers

Artisanal Chicken:   It's been more than two months since we asked some respectful yet tough questions on of Chicken Farmers of Ontario ("CFO"), and still no answers.

I previously posted about our questions to CFO on their new Artisanal Chicken program (see Blog posting
For more info on CFO's Artisanal Chicken, see here, here, here, and here.
Time is running out.  If Small Flockers don't get CFO's answers, they will soon be forced to make a decision about joining Artisanal Chicken while kept in an information vacuum by CFO.
If we assume that CFO is suddenly and inexplicably acting in the best interest of Small Flockers, why would CFO ignore these valid and reasonable questions, stonewalling, and refusing to answer?  At best, CFO might be too busy on more pressing issues for the Artisanal Chicken launch.  In this is true, how long does it take for CFO to say "CFO received your questions, and will fully answer as soon as possible, but no later than what applicants will need to make an informed decision to join Artisanal Chicken without delay".  If that is the case, why didn't CFO respond in that way in a timely manner?  If the questions inadvertently fell through cracks in CFO's bureaucracy, why didn't CFO respond and fix the oversight when I reminded them at the one month delay point?  I can think of no other method to explain and justify these slim possibilities.  I therefore suggest these and all other assumptions that view CFO's actions (and inactions) through rose coloured glasses are ridiculous and unlikely possibility, and therefore I reject all of these from further consideration.
We are therefore left with the distinct possibility that CFO's Artisanal Chicken is designed to enhance and defend CFO's self serving and dysfunctional position. 

Most Small Flockers must make capital purchases in excess of $5,000 to be ready for Artisanal Chicken.  Should they proceed, hoping and blindly trusting in CFO, that none of the risks materialize?  An un-necessarily risky approach for a Small Flocker.  Alternatively do we shun the Artisanal Chicken opportunity until CFO decides, or is forced, to answer all reasonable questions?

If somebody is a traditional Small Flocker, and considering becoming an Artisanal Chicken Farmer, they need to make an informed decision about the risks and benefits associated with this big decision.

If you decide to go forward, and later learn some critical, hidden consequence, the retreat back to Small Flocker (now Family Food) will be fraught with costs, traps, consequences.  CFO could even decide to arbitrarily bar re-entry into Small Flocker status (now Family Food).  There is no limit to CFO's powers, nor their desire to monopolize the chicken market.

CFO may have designed Artisanal Chicken as a honey pot to attract CFO's enemies and advocates for Small Flockers' rights & freedoms (us and others like us) within the Small Flocker's rank and file.

Stonewalling may indicate that if it isn't CFO's plot to kill off CFO's critics, then it is likely that CFO launched Artisanal Chicken because CFO had their arm twisted by Ontario's Farm Products Marketing Commission, who may have been silently and secretly ordered by Ontario's Ministry of Agriculture, who may have been pushed by Ontario's Cabinet.

It is doubtful that CFO launched Artisanal Chicken on their own volition because they suddenly realized the previous unfairness they caused to Small Flockers and the Ontario public.

Has CFO acted like a petulant teenager who is forced to do some task by their parents?  Will that misguided teenager purposely misinterpret, and do the task in a way that nefariously interprets the parent's instructions; Is CFO's Artisanal Chicken program designed like a teenager's passive aggressive attack against the parent's imposition of a family duty on the teenager?  When the Artisanal Chicken program is eventually exposed for the dead end, dysfunctional trap will CFO say "We were against this Artisanal Chicken idea, we warned them this would occur, so don't blame CFO now that these risks have arrived on your doorstep."

Never forget that this Artisanal Chicken program is likely designed to help CFO's condition, not that of consumers, nor the life of Small Flockers.  It is likely designed to divide & conquer, to douse the flames on the greatest critics of CFO and Supply Management ("SM") in general.  By separating critics into two smaller groups, CFO divides the critical voices, separates the critics on a few key issues, and this can do nothing but strengthen the position of CFO.

Why would CFO want to answer questions that expose their diabolic plan?  It is far better to delay, stonewall, and ignore any questions that might tip your hand and expose CFO's self serving agenda.

And that is what CFO has done.

Until proven otherwise, I suggest all Small Flockers, and all those Artisanal Chicken applicants be wary of CFO's other shoe that will be suddenly dropped at the most dangerous time for the Small Flocker who trusted in the good faith, competence, and purpose of CFO.

My latest email to CFO again requesting answers to critical questions about CFO's Artisanal Chicken program.