Monday, September 26, 2016

Customers Seek Artisanal Chicken

If you are an Artisanal Chicken Farmer, or a Small Flocker, I have waiting customers for your live chickens. Call or email me, and I will put you in touch with these eager customers.

Enter your info for free into SFPFC's  Artisanal Chicken Farm Database so your prospective customers can more easily find you. 

Sometimes it takes a while for the rain to soak in.  That's why we have things called puddles and wetlands, to hold the excess water until it can be handled.  Puddles and wetlands form when there is too much rain, or it rains too quickly.

Similar to rain and puddles, in the chicken business, we use on-farm inventory of live birds, delaying the trip to the abattoir, and large freezer capacity all help absorb and hold any imbalances in supply and demand.

The prospective chicken customers who contacted me say they want to buy all of my live chickens currently on farm, and all of my production for 2017.  I am licensed for 3,000 Artisanal birds, but they need more than that.

You may have already received an email from me about this opportunity.  Either way, I await your response if you have chicken for sale.

These prospective chicken buyers asked me to notify all other prospective Artisanal chicken farmers in Ontario, asking them to put their hand up if they would like to sell some or all of their current & future production.

Most of these eager customers tell me they have special slaughter and further processing requirements, so they want live birds that they can get processed to their exacting specifications.  Therefore, most of these customers are not interested in fresh never frozen meat, nor are they interested in your frozen birds awaiting sale.  However, other customers may come along who want already frozen birds, so everybody can put their name forward.

These prospective customers do not have any CFO quota for buying/marketing chicken, or do not have sufficient quota, but have a need for more chicken for their hungry customers.

In case you didn't realize, Canada has a quota system on growing chicken, and a separate quota system for buying chicken.  You need a license, and must pay a fee to buy chicken in Canada.  Some think this is extortion when you have to pay to enter a business.  Others realize this is Canada's crazy Supply Management system.  The buyers who want Artisanal Chicken are willing to pay the $/kg to the farmer, but don't want to pay the supply management quota fee for buying chicken.

In this case, these prospective customers would rather buy from Artisanal Chicken Farmers, where no chicken buying quota is required, rather than purchasing quota so they can buy chicken from the CAFO chicken factory Supply Management system.

If you are Artisanal or Small Flocker, feel free to place all your info and particulars in the comments below, so everybody can find you, or send it to me by phone, fax, or email.

If you'd like, I will create a free database of Ontario's Artisanal Chicken Farmers, with all their particulars, so prospective customers can find their nearest or best supplier of this non-SM chicken

Friday, September 23, 2016

Artisanal Chicken: Is it Working?

I have been contacted by a number of people, curious to know my experiences with raising chickens under the Artisanal Chicken program of Chicken Farmers of Ontario ("CFO").

Application deadline for new entrants for chicken farmers to join the Artisanal Chicken program for January 2017 closed as of 2016/09/09.  However, true to form, CFO has changed the rules at the last minute, and has extended the CFO Artisanal Chicken deadline to 2016/09/30.

Therefore if you are an Ontario chicken farmer (or wanna be), there is still time to join the Artisanal Chicken pioneers.  CFO doesn't share all of the details, but I will.  Here is the info you need to make a great decision.

  1. In short, as an Artisanal Chicken farmer, CFO has treated me in a friendly, respectful, and reasonable manner.  Lord knows they had reasons to do otherwise to me due to this Blog.  More or less, CFO has left me alone to grow my chickens. If they have treated me well, they will likely do the same for you and other Artisanal Chicken applicants.  Of course, all that can rapidly change whenever CFO unilaterally decides.  Trust takes along time.
  2. CFO reserves the right to terminate the program any time they feel like it.  Of course, if CFO did that (or some other big player in the Supply Management system forces CFO's hand for their self-serving monopolistic, crony capitalism reasons), that would leave me and most other Artisanal Chicken farmers financially stranded with no recourse.  I doubt I could scream "Unfair" loud enough to make a difference within a reasonable time.  If you borrow money to do Artisanal Chicken, you will be at suicidal (or significant) risk until you get the loan paid off, likely losing everything if CFO harpoons you, you become a beached whale, and the bank come to collect its pound of flesh.  Knowing (or fearing) CFO, I would recommend against borrowing money to enter the Artisanal Chicken system.
  3. After you apply, CFO will come to your farm to interview you and view your farm, barn(s), and infrastructure (eg. water supply, barn yards, pasture, etc.).  My audit was very low key and accepting of where I was staring from.  CFO currently seems to accept you where you are currently at, and makes allowances for you to learn and grow into the program.  You are not expected to be perfect, nor to have everything already in place (eg. your barn doesn't have to be already built before applying).  Of course, CFO could change that approach tomorrow, so be ready.  You should have a reasonable plan for each step that you will have to achieve for your entire first year as an Artisanal Chicken farmer.  I would suggest it would be frowned upon to tell CFO "If approved, I will buy 500 day-old chicks, and once they arrive, I'll figure out what I'll do next", and you likely won't be approved by CFO with this half-baked plan.
  4. CFO will likely approve your reasonable plan and application, as there is more quota available than farmers available to fill it. I base that upon CFO extending the application deadline.
  5. CFO has a tendency to notify tour acceptance at the last minute, which put me at great disadvantage, requiring me to start construction on January 1st.  It wasn't easy.  Be prepared for that.
  6. Once approved, CFO will send you a bill for immediate payment of CFO's fees & levy & license for the entire 2017 year.  Your cash flow for capital purchases will be stretched even thinner by this, but that is CFO's desire to make sure they get their pound of flesh.
  7. You may not be able to get the chicks you want, when you want them.  Call your hatchery before you apply to find out the details and get a tentative commitment (eg. if you get approved by CFO, the hatchery will guarantee to supply you the chicks you need).  You may have to order chicks 6 to 8 weeks in advance.

  8. Once you start, be prepared to continue along your plan, assuming all goes according to plan.  If you hesitate at each step, awaiting proof that each step works as you hoped before you move forward to the next step, you will be lost before you get once through.  Plan well, think about all of the things that could go wrong, what is the earliest point you can detect plan failure, and have remedial plans ready for each of those major risks.  Once you have your plan perfected, put the accelerator to the floor and go for it full speed.  You can re-assess further at the end of your first year.
  9. Abattoir capacity is likely even more constrained than hatchery supply.  OMAFRA has admitted that they nearly killed all of Ontario's small local abattoirs 5 to 10 years ago, and we're still recovering from their bureaucratic mistakes.  I suggest you have a primary abattoir who will process 66% to 90% of all your chickens, and a backup abattoir who will do 10% to 33% of your chickens.  That way, you have a foot in the door if your primary abattoir has a problem and can't serve you as you need.
  10. Due to the long trip to the nearest abattoir, economics said I must raise flocks of 500 birds to keep costs down.  Therefore, I needed a brooder that could handle 500 day-old chicks, and maybe some turkeys and ducks.  I chose a 40 ft. decommissioned sea container.  I made the necessary customizations to create a state-of-the-art brooder.  A
    Inside a brooder compartment with 100
    chick who are 2 days old, maintained
    at 35 deg C, 2 drinkers and feed trough.
    An electric radiant heater is shown at
    the bottom of the photo, added to
    each compartment for the first 48 hrs.
    for those chicks who need extra heat.

    Roof vent cut into steel roof of sea container

    Inside the brooder, showing the 6 compartments (4' x 6' each),
    with a 2' wide aisle on the right, and sheets of Silverboard
    foam wall insulation as lids, 3 LED lights in each
    compartment, and fresh air makeup distributed to each
    compartment via a 4" diameter pipe (5 compartments
    currently in use @ 100 chicks per compartment)

    Propane fired hot water heater (from travel trailer),
    and hydronic heating system for brooder.  Each brooder
    compartment has a separate radiant floor heating zone

    Fresh air inlet to brooder, with hot water heating coil to
    pre-heat air to 35 degC

  11. You will need to do some CFO training via watching 1 or more video.  While this is a mandatory requirement, CFO still doesn't have this set up so it can be accomplished, so I have not yet been able to accomplish this step 10 months after CFO approval.
  12. You will need to prepare a written farm manual saying how you will meet all of the mandatory requirements of the CFO and Chicken Farmers of Canada ("CFC").  Fortunately, CFO has a template manual as a Adobe Acrobat pdf form.  You can fill in the form on your computer and print it off, or print the blank form and fill it in via pen & ink.  The CFO form is a little flakey (ie. the form has limited space in the fields, and won't print properly if you have a long answer).
  13. CFO will do an on-farm audit to see if you are in compliance with your stated methods described in your farm manual.  For example, your manual says what you plan to do, the on-farm audit ensures you are doing what you said you would be doing.

  14. You will need to keep documentation on a daily basis to support and prove that you are following your plan (eg. brooder temperatures, mortality, treatments, chicken feed retention samples or Lot Code numbers, etc.).
  15. I have a 17 to 23 hr day when I go to the abattoir, starting at midnight to catch and crate the birds.  You will likely need some help.
  16. Your vehicle will likely be contaminated by the live birds on their way to the abattoir, and want a clean vehicle before loading your eviscerated meat so it doesn't get cross contaminated.  I have limited vehicle space, and can't afford to make 2 trips to the abattoir (ie. one trip to take live birds to the abattoir, a second trip to pick up the cold, eviscerated meat).  To solve this problem, I had to design a insulated 4' x 8' x 4' cooler box that is stored in pieces in the back of my pickup truck while I travel to the abattoir with my live birds in crates in my trailer.  Once I have offloaded the birds at the abattoir, I go to a truck wash to clean the empty crates and trailer, offload the crates, build the cooler box in the trailer, reload the crates in the pickup truck box, then await the cooled meat from the abattoir.  I load the cold, eviscerated meat in the insulated cooler box, throw a temperature recorder in with the chicken so that I can prove I kept the chicken at the proper temperatures, throw on the ice to keep the chicken cool for twice the expected travel time (in case of a flat tire or other travel emergency), close up the cooler box, and head home.  A long, hard day!  If you have other animals on farm, you still have to do farm chores before you go, and after you get back.  Think about that and get the help you need.  Don't plan on being Superman.
  17. I haven't figured out how to get 500 customers to rendezvous with my trailer full of cold fresh never frozen meat when I return home.  I sell some of it fresh, but am forced to freeze most of it.  Freezing isn't as simple as throwing 300 chickens into a standard home chest freezer.  The typical chest freezer has a limited freezing capacity, and will take up to 2 weeks to freeze the chickens in the middle of the freezer if you load it full of cold chicken.  The chicken in the middle of the freezer will be cold but spoiled (ie. rotten smellly meat unfit for human consumption) by the time it starts to freeze.  To solve this problem, I tightly pack about 30 chickens into the bottom of a large chest freezer.  I then spread 25 kg. of dry ice (-90 deg C) on top of those chickens, then place another layer of 30 or so chickens on top of the dry ice layer.  I continue to add layers of chicken and dry ice until the freezer is full.  I close the lid, and the cold CO2 gas comes blowing out of the freezer as the chickens are rapidly frozen (you need adequate ventilation of the CO2 gas escaping).  Within 12 to 24 hours, the 300 chickens are frozen solid, and the chest freezer's compressor can take over the job to keep the frozen chicken at -18 deg C.  Dry ice is expensive, so I charge 16.9% more for frozen chickens vs. fresh never frozen chickens to help pay for the dry ice.
  18. Growing your chickens is probably the easy part.  The hard part will be marketing.  You will have long days at Farmer's Markets, and costs for advertising and marketing.  Be sure to keep those $/hr labor and marketing costs allowances in your planned selling prices.
  19. Artisanal chicken can sell at a premium price over the crap CAFO chicken that is sold in the grocery store.  I raise grass pastured, free range, no drug, no antibiotic, no chemicals, no hormone, all natural chicken and sell it at $3.85 per pound fresh never frozen, and $4.50 per lb frozen.  I make more profit when the birds are heavy (eg. 7 lb chickens at $31.50 per bird), but most consumers get sticker shock when the birds are too heavy.  You may find it an easier sell at 4 lb birds at $18 per bird.
  20. I will be applying to do Artisanal Chickens for 2017.
  21. There will be some people who need the high quality Artisanal Chickens, but can't afford them.  Please consider:

    •  A discount price to sell some of your chickens to your local Foodbank; or
    • Donating some of your chickens to your local Foodbank; or
    • My insulated wood box, 4' x 8' x 4', disassembled, awaiting
      my next trip to the abattoir.  One person can pick up each
      piece, and assemble the box.  Add eviscerated chicken and
      ice, and off you go.  The box is re-assembled with about
      20 screws and a 25' long cargo web strapping around the
    • Donate a part of your gross sales or profits to the Foodbank so that those who can afford your chickens help subsidize affordable food for those who can't.
I hope this helps you decide if CFO's Artisanal Chicken is for you.  Please add your comments and experiences, tips, and questions to the Comments section below.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Free Training: Poultry Farming in Northern Ontario

Attention Poultry Producers:

Interested in learning about the challenges and opportunities of growing poultry in the North? 

Join OMAFRA Specialists (including our Provincial Poultry Specialist, Al Dam), as we discuss the F.L.A.W.S. principles of poultry management.

Other topics will include: poultry production and nutrition, husbandry, disease and biosecurity, rodent and predation control, barn structure and ventilation, loading and transport and more. 

These workshops are aimed at the small flock and Artisanal and Niche Market farmers.  Come with your questions and be prepared to take home plenty of material. These are free workshops, so don’t miss out on this unique learning opportunity!

Schedule and location of Workshops:

Spring Bay Hall, 9298 Hwy #542, Spring Bay,  7:00 PM-10:00 PM, Wednesday June 8

Massey Arena,  455 Government Rd, Massey, 10:00 AM-1:00 PM, Thursday, June 9

Johnson Township Community Centre, 1 Cameron Road, (upstairs in the Desbarats Arena), Desbarats, 7:30 PM-10:00 PM, Thursday June 9

Caldwell Township Hall, 11790 Hwy #64, Verner, 7:00 PM-10:00 PM, Friday June 10

Nipissing/Parry Sound
Chisholm United Church Hall, 1469 Chiswick Line, Powassan, 10:00 AM- 1:00 PM, Saturday, June 11. 

For questions regarding these upcoming workshops please contact Brian Bell, ADA, OMAFRA at 705-282-1638 or Mobile 705-690-5020 or email  

Brian Bell, Agriculture Development Advisor
Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
35 Meredith Street, P.O Box 328
Gore Bay, Ont. P0P 1H0
Fax: 1-705-282-2792
For information on upcoming meetings and events, go to OMAFRA Dateline at:

Death by Sea Container

My 20 ft. de-commissioned sea container, used to store
animal feed and farm equipment
I built a state-of-the art brooder inside a 40 ft. sea container that handles up to 600 day-old chicks for the first 3 weeks of their life.  It works great.  However, that sea container-brooder could now be the death of my farm, and my dream of supplying safe, nutritious, locally grown chicken for my small community.

For the forth time, my municipality wants to pass a By-law to ban sea containers.  After the first 3 attempts to pass a banning By-law were all failures, I thought the municipality had finally given up due to their repeated problems with the By-law's wording, and the public backlash.

Not so.

In baseball, three strikes you're out.  Apparently, that doesn't count for municipalities.

Attacking sea containers for the forth time, the Municipality certainly demonstrates their perseverance, bordering on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Maybe I do too, as I continue to defend these de-commissioned steel boxes that are both affordable and useful on my farm (and elsewhere).

So why is the Municipality so insistent to get rid of sea containers?

We don't really know for sure, except for the cryptic statement in the draft By-law, claiming it’s “in the public’s best interest to control the placement and use of sea containers”.

I don't believe that window dressing explanation of the municipality's motivations.

Excellent municipalities deliver sustainable services at minimum cost. This challenging goal is aided by sea containers.

If a sea container isn’t on concrete foundations, it’s neither a permanent structure, nor a building, nor MPAC assessed, nor property taxed.

Mediocre municipalities think sea containers are a loophole in their quest for maximum tax revenue and maximum spending.

The Roman orator and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero frequently asked "Cui bono" [latin phrase meaning "Who benefits?"].

Special Interest Groups (ie. home & apartment builders, U-store developers, and others) sometime conspire with mediocre municipalities to ban sea containers. If banned, the next best alternative will likely benefit a Special Interest Group.

So if sea containers are banned, mediocre municipalities and their Special Interest Groups both likely benefit.  A devil's pact against the citizens.  Fascism at its worst.

It is unknown if these motivations are the root causes of the 4th attempt at a sea container banning By-law in my case, but it may be true in your case.

Has your municipality banned sea containers?  If so, let everybody know what happened & how you coped by posting a comment below.

My newly minted family farm uses sea containers in an extensive way:
  • to store animal feed and seeds,
  • on-farm storage;
  • as a brooder for our day-old baby chicks, and
  • for storing the fresh and frozen meats produced by our farm. 
 We customized a 40 ft. sea container to be a world-class brooder.  Without that brooder, we can no longer raise pastured poultry.  Without the income from our poultry operations, our farm cannot survive.

After a sea container has had 5 to 10 years of strenuous use on the high seas, it is forced to retire to its second career. The environmental 6R Rule (Refuse, Reduce, Re-use, Repair, Re-purpose, Recycle) tells us to re-purpose sea containers, rather than recycle them as scrap steel.

By acting in a sustainable, environmentally sound manner, I have backed my farm into a dangerous corner with my municipality.

The proposed By-law specifically prohibits using a sea container to house animals (or people, also eliminating sea containers as a source of affordable housing for all).

Besides my farm, I am also concerned about current farms that have no sea container but could soon realize a need for one, or future farms that might need sea containers if they are to be a viable farm startup.  What do they do after this By-law is passed?

While I might get "grandfathered in" (ie. become legal non-conforming), others likely will not be entitled to grandfathering.

I am aware of the Ontario law "Farming and Food Production Protection Act, 1998, S.O. 1998, CHAPTER 1 (see ) which states:
Normal farm practice preserved
6. (1) No municipal by-law applies to restrict a normal farm practice carried on as part of an agricultural operation. 1998,
c. 1, s. 6 (1).

My brooder-sea container is quite innovative, so it likely meets the definition of innovative farm practices that are protected by the Act.  The other sea containers have pretty standard farm uses, so I assume they would meet the definition of "normal farm practices".

So why isn't my farm, and all other farms excempt from this encroaching By-law?

I have proposed the following amendment to the Municipality's draft By-law:
"All farm lands, farms, farmers, farming operations, and farm processes are expressly exempted from this Bylaw, irregardless of what Zone they happen to be located in, and notwithstanding anything else in this By-law, and notwithstanding anything else in the latest amendment of By-law 2002-07 Zoning."
So far, no comment from them on my "reasonable" suggestion..

I told the Municipality that if the municipality proceeds with this draft By-law as it is currently written, I plan to apply to the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board under this law to strike down the Bylaw as ultra vires the Municipality's authority under this Act so as to better protect my farm and all other farms in Central Manitoulin from this ill advised By-law.

When a Municipality does a frontal assault onto a small, local, family farm, it truly is:

 "biting the hand that feeds you"

My farm's LGD's (Livestock Guardian Dogs) know better, and have better manners than this.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Artisanal Chicken Brooder

In the spirit of Blog 3.0, this post will share my ideas and plans for a low cost, effective brooder for use under CFO's Artisanal Chicken program to produce 3,0000 birds per year.

I have previously posted numerous descriptions about the evils of the CAFO chicken factory. I believe in pastured poultry.  However, that's kind of tough to do when the grass is under 3 feet of snow.  Even in the short Canadian summers, the chicks can't be tossed out into the pasture on they day they are hatched; they must spend time under Mama's wing, or in a brooder.  After 2 weeks, they will be ready for the great outdoors.

It's 17 hours round trip to the nearest abattoir that slaughters poultry.  It's 2 years in jail if I try to do it on-farm.  That regulation isn't for any particular health or safety reason, as it has been repeatedly shown that a farmer with a sharp knife can produce eviscerated chicken with 97% less bacterial contamination that the government approved Chicken Mafia system.  The mandatory abattoir visit is due to regulatory capture by the Chicken Mafia, helping to enforce their monopoly.

Due to the high travel costs, I must max. out the abattoir on every trip.  My nearest abattoir can process 500 birds in one day, so my Artisanal Chicken system must learn how to produce flocks of 500 birds.

Joel Salatin says the poults are ready to go to pasture on the first nice day after they are 2 weeks old.  CFO sets a maximum density of 2.88 kg/sq. ft of barn space.  Using the curve in Figure 1 below, we can design the brooder.

Figure 1:  Chick growth curve for Frey's Whiterock meat birds.  I assumed the
chick was 40 grams when hatched, then used Frey's data, fitted by
Richard's (1959) generic chicken growth equation using 4 parameters (A, b, k, and n),
showing the birds have an ultimate weight of 3.233 kg.
Figure 2:   GFQ's 5 tier brooder
can do 500 chicks for about a
week or less, requires a warm
draft free room, electricity, and a
fat wallet.
GFQ makes a 5 tier stacking brooder at a cost of US$1,130.00 plus shipping, exchange, and taxes, which equates to about CDN$1,850.00 for Canada.

With GFQ's system, I still have to do something different after the first week.  GFQ takes 15 amps to run the 5 electric heaters (one on each level).  That much electricity on a 34/7 basis is close to impossible for my off-grid solar-wind power system to power.  In addition, I have to supply a warm, draft free building.  The living room of our house won't go over well every 8 weeks with my patient spouse.

After scratching my head for a while, and a few back of the envelope calculations, I decided the only available solution was a 40 ft. used sea container.  You can do it in a 20 ft. sea container (about $2,500 delivered, about $15.60 per sq. ft. vs. $75 per sq. ft. to build your own barn, or $150/sq. ft. to have a contractor build it.

I decided to buy a 40 ft. can, as I have other plans for the rest of the space, and a 40 ft can is cheaper than two 20 ft. cans.  I got my 40 ft. can for about $4,000 delivered to the farm and put in place.  Under Ontario Building Code, a sea container sitting on the ground (or 6" x 6" sleepers) is not a building and doesn't require a building permit, and doesn't add to your assessed property value.  Sweet!

Figure 3:   Interior plan view of sea container brooder for 500 chicks.  There are 5 brooders, and a central hallway
for wheelbarrow access.  If you have terrible weather and can't go to pasture after 2 weeks of age, you can throw
a few bales of wood shavings onto the hallway floor, and legally extend the brooder time to a maximum of 3 weeks.
The central hallway has to be 3 ft. wide to accommodate my wheelbarrow.  Double door keep out drafts, and open fully for easy loading, unloading, and cleaning.  Each brooder is designed to hold 100 chicks, from day old to 2 weeks of age, then its out to the pasture for them.  At 2 weeks old, the poults should be 0.412 kg, so at a stocking density of 2.88 kg/sq.ft., we need 14.30 sq. ft. which is exactly what we have in Brooders 2 -->5 (#1 is slightly larger).

Sometimes bad weather, or a delay at the abattoir could cause a backup, where the poults can't go to pasture on the planned date.  In that case, you can throw a few bales of wood shavings or hay down on the central hallway, and depopulate each brooder by 67 birds each, and place 338 poults in the hallway for an additional week, or the emergency has resolved.

At 75 birds per pasture pen (10' wide x 12' long  x 2' high), the birds start at a density of 9.6% of CFO's maximum, and grow to 70% of CFO's maximum density; thereby ensuring no overcrowding.

To protect the brooding birds from winter cold, 1.5" of thermal insulation, covered by 1/2" plywood is between the sea container's cold steel wall and the warm birds.  The floor will have 1" of thermal insulation, then 1/2" PEX tubing carrying 50/50 mixture of heated propylene glycol-water.  When a brooder is cold, the thermostat turns on the small DC recirculation pump for that zone, and sends hot fluid through the PEX to warm the chicks.  I tried getting a used propane fired water heater from a travel trailer for $100, but my supplier was out of supply, so I had to buy a new one for $600

The 2 ft. high 2x4 walls between each brooder keep the chicks isolated, carry the PEX lines to and from each brooder, are internally insulated to conserve heat, then skinned with plywood..  Hockey puck LED or halogen lights will light each brooder.  A sheet of 2" insulation board will be used for a roof.

Ventilation of the individual brooders is by propping up the brooder's insulation board as needed.  Overall, the sea container interior is ventilated by grated air inlets cut into the floor (predator proof), and multiple roof vents.

Minimal cost, maximum energy efficiency, and maximum comfort for the birds.  With Small Flockers, everybody wins.

SFPFC has made arrangements with the owner of this design as an aid to our members.  Anybody who is a member of SFPFC is hereby welcomed and automatically licensed to use this design.  All others must refrain from using our registered design.  The design owner is not vengeful, but can be provoked to attack mis-use or unauthorized use of this design.

Any questions, or suggestions to further improve the design, please comment below or by private email.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Shifting Gears: Blog 3.0

I believe it's time to shift gears on the Blog for Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada ("SFPFC"), moving toward Blog 3.0
Readers of SFPFC's Blog are now from 161
countries, including Antarctica.

This Blog was started  on Feb.28, 2013 (coming up on 3 years old), has posted 444 entries, and attracted a total of 187,723 visits from people in 161 countries around the world. (USA, Canada, Russia, France, Ukraine, Germany, China, and UK leading the way in visitors).

We shifted gears in May 2015 to a non-daily posting, as Blog 2.0

Today, we shift gears to Blog 3.0, where our primary focus will now be to help non-quota poultry farmers, cheerleading their successes, and providing helpful hints to do sustainable, worthy poultry farming that can produce safe, nutritious, affordable, locally produced poultry for our local communities.  This will include non-CAFO poultry farming, small flock, Artisanal Chicken, Family Food exemption, and all similar non-quota poultry farming.

Up until now, our primary focus has been on investigating and describing the plight of non-quota chicken farmers in Ontario Canada, as a proxy and worst case scenario for all Small Flockers across Canada.

Small Flockers in Ontario have historically been the most abused, mistreated, and persecuted of all Small Flockers across Canada.  Our theory was that if we cannot make our case for relief and respect for Small Flockers in Ontario, we would not be able to do any good for anybody else across Canada.

Since starting our crusade 3 years ago, Ontario's Chicken Mafia, as embodied and lead by the Chicken Farmers of Ontario, has introduced "Artisanal Chicken", where a Small Flocker can raise up to 3,000 birds per year; 10 times more than the previous draconian rules by CFO against both Small Flockers and Canadians.

For those who shout "Too little, too late", I agree.

However, these changes forced upon the Chicken Mafia by public opinion and their government masters are a good start.

As the Canadian and world economies continues to tailspin down, out of control, the unfairness and unacceptable cost of Supply Management ("SM") will become more and more apparent to the public.  Soon the public will start shouting for urgent changes for more affordable food that isn't contaminated or depleted of nutrition.  Those additional changes to SM will suddenly start to appear.  We need to be patient.

The Chicken Mafia will think that each concession granted will be sufficient to satisfy the complaints against them and their wicked, dysfunctional system.  The Chicken Mafia think that throwing one last bone to the wolves at the Chicken Mafia's door, they will escape the bite of the ravenous wolves.  The Chicken Mafia think they can then resume their raping, pillaging, and abuse of Canadians and Small Flockers.

However, each changed forced upon the Chicken Mafia will be too little, too late.  It will quench the thirst for change only momentarily.  The grudgingly created concession will help show that change for the better is possible, and show the chronic unfairness that has been imposed for decades by the Chicken Mafia.  Each change will fuel and spread the need for more change.

That doesn't mean that the Chicken Mafia can escape by refusing all change, sending forth their lobbyists with more money and propaganda to quell the growing disturbance.  The Chicken Mafia can no longer delay, deny, destroy, defend, distract, deride, and deflect.  Refusing to change for the better will quickly end their tinpot monopoly.

For those who are interested, the evidence of the Chicken Mafia's dirty deeds is collected together and fully explained here.  For those interested, the Internet will spread the message.  For those who wish to stay dumb and blind, nothing written here will change anything for them.

Also, there is little to be gained from re-hashing the same crimes and misdemeanors of the Chicken Mafia over and over again.  It's now time to move on.  However, if the Chicken Mafia commit another unique and grisly offense against Small Flockers or the Canadian public, you will likely hear about it here first.

Now  we will build our own Small Flocker community.  We will share and support each other.  We will build the policies and best practices of Small Flockers, so that this becomes the nexus of sharing and celebrating everything Small Flocker.

I therefore call upon all our readers around the world for what they have done to improve their flocks and better serve their local communities.  You are all requested and invited to share your stories, pictures, and other successes here.

The dysfunctional CAFO chicken factories and their quota monopolies, lies, cheating, and incest are hereby abandoned, out of the spotlight, and can wallow in their own filth as long as they want, slowly rotting, rusting and inbreeding to their heart's content.  We are done with them.  Good-bye.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Your Chicken Choice Is Clear

We now have scientific evidence that pastured chicken is more nutritious than the CAFO chicken factory meat sold in the typical grocery store.  Your choice in chicken is now clear.
The Choice in Chicken is Now Clear

I have previously posted comments made by a number of sources that free range and/or pastured chicken was better, but I was never able to find hard scientific numbers to back it up.  Fortunately, courtesy of our American neighbours, we now have those science-based data to support the former anecdotal testimonies.

I have previous posted about the good fats and other benefits of pastured and free-range chicken (see Blog postings Animal Fat in our Diets, Vegetable OilsFood Quality & Nutrition: Factory Chicken Vs. AlternativesPastured Poultry and Mental Health).

Figure 1:   Comparison of chicken fats from CAFO chicken factories Vs.
Pastured Poultry.  As can be easily seen here, pastured poultry is better
in at least 10 out of 12 categories.  Recent research shows dietary
cholesterol is no longer seen as a problem, and is essential for building
healthy membranes within all cells,  so that would make pastured chicken
better in 11 out of 12 categories (no data exists in the 12th category, so no
comparison can be made in the final category.   Source: APPPA
American Pastured Poultry Producers Association ("APPPA") conducted the research "Pasture and Feed Affect Broiler Carcass Nutrition", on the nutritional difference between pastured chicken and the CAFO factory chicken that is ubiquitously available in all Canadian grocery stores.  The APPPA's summary report was written by Mike  Badger, revised 4/22/2015.

As compared to CAFO factory farm chicken, pastured chicken has been found to have:
  • 33% less of the bad Omega-6 fat;
  • 91% more of the good Omega-3 fat,
  • 47% to 80% better Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio (depending on the supplemental feed used);
  • 407% more Vitamin E;
  • 52% less Saturated Fat
  • 53% less Monosaturated fat;
  • 32% less polyunsaturated fat;
  • 50% less fat (all types).

All About Fats

Trans fats are the worst, often created by the chemical factory processing of vegetable oils via high temperature oil extraction (often using petroleum based solvents such as hexane), deodorization, or hydrogenation. Because they have been deodorized, we can no longer detect when the oil has gone rancid, enabling us to unwittingly consume rancid oils.  Deodorizing these oils is the same as a car manufacturer purposefully not installing the LOW OIL PRESSURE switch on your car's engine, perhaps with the purpose that you will destroy your engine, and they can sell you a new car sooner.

Next worst after trans fats are PUFA's (Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acids).  PUFA's are an essential fat (ie. we need it but our bodies can't produce our own, so we must consume it from our food), but we only need a tiny bit that is naturally occurring in many foods.  PUFA's are unstable due their unsaturated double bond, are easily oxidized, and quickly go rancid.  When eaten in excess, PUFA's have a terrible effect on our liver, pancreas, thyroid, and obesity.  Eating PUFA's at the same time as fructose maximizes the harm, as these interact to form AGE's (Advanced Glycation Endproducts).  Omega-6 (eg. Linoleic acid such as corn oil, canola oil, and most other liquid oils, salad dressings, margarines, etc.) is a PUFA which is one of the worst, clearly shown to cause or contribute to coronary heart disease.  Omega-6 fats also tend to cause or contribute to systemic inflammation in our bodies (eg. irritable bowel, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.).  In North America, we consume way too much Omega-6 PUFA fat; 8 times more than historically.  The rest of the world has followed us down this swampy path to PUFA hell, hurting their health too.

Omega-3 ( α-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) obtained from foods such as flax seed, cold water fish, etc.) is also a PUFA.  Omega-3 tends to counteract many of the negative consequences of Omega-6.  Omega-3 is best consumed as food rather than as a pill or other supplements (eg. fish oil), as too much Omega-3 is not good for you, and pills are of questionable quality and freshness (ie. likely they are contaminated or denatured by the extraction process, and likely oxidized or rancid due to sitting too long on the shelf).  The ALA type of Omega-3, primarily from flax seeds and other vegetable sources, can't be metabolized directly, so the body has to convert ALA to EPA &/or DHA for it to be used, and that conversion process is long and inefficient, so animal sources of Omega-3 are the best.

PUFA's are in most foods, so it is very difficult to avoid them. In meats, the PUFA's aren't as bad as the vegetable oils, usually because the meat isn't rancid, and if it is rancid, it's easily detected, and rancid meat likely won't be eaten due to the terrible taste.

First and foremost, PUFA's should be severely limited in our diets.  For the small amounts of PUFA's that are permitted to remain in our diet, the next important factor is the Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio.

Before humans got their first chemistry set for Christmas, it is believed that human diets had an Omega6:Omega3 ratio of 1:1.  A ratio of 4 or below is generally considered excellent (ie. 4 parts Omega-6, 1 part Omega-3).   Unfortunately, mainly due to our modern foods made by Mad Scientists and their chemistry sets, or processed foods, and/or CAFO factory farming, our typical diet in North America has way too much Omega-6, and our N. American diet ratio of Omega-6:Omega-3 is often as high as 20:1


To understand the healthier choices in meat, most science-based nutritionists suggest looking at minimizing the amount of Omega-6, then minimize the ratio between Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats in the meat.  

Looking at the table above, we can see that soy-free pastured chicken has 32.9% less Omega-6 fat, and as low as a 3:1 ratio, both of which are excellent for a healthy diet.

This research also shows that when chicken feed is made with soybean meal as the primary protein source, the chickens tend to add significantly more body fat.  However, when peas are used as the primary source of protein, the chickens tend to be significantly less fatty.  Of course CAFO chicken factories tend to be highly reliant on soybean meal as a cheap source of protein.  Non-soy fed pastured chicken has a ratio as low as 3:1 (ie. excellent), while USDA tests of CAFO chicken factory meats have a  15:1 ratio (ie. not so healthy).  On this basis, pastured chicken is up to 5 times better than meat from CAFO chicken factories.

Omega-9 (eg. oleic fats, such as olive oil) are mono-unsaturated fats ("MUFA") that are generally considered as excellent dietary fats, better than PUFA's.  However if a MUFA is used in a high heat cooking process (eg. grilling, frying, roasting, etc.), it will denature and form bad oxidation products.

8 Chicken legs (2.23 kg raw) were roasted,
producing 150 ml (144 grams) of excess fat in
the bottom of the roasting pan.  This excess
CAFO factory farming fat is $0.5 Billion
per year of waste to Canadians.

Practical Test of CAFO Chicken

To put this information to a practical test, I purchased two packages of whole chicken legs (4 drumstick & thighs per package, 8 legs in total, with skin), for a total raw weight of 2.23 kg.  I paid the standard Chicken Mafia gouging prices Canadians must pay due to this unholy Chicken Mafia monopoly.

I roasted the chicken and collected the grease left in the pan.  After cooking,  I had 150 ml of rendered chicken fat in the bottom of the pan.  I'm sure there was still some additional fat in the skin and on the legs that didn't liquefy.  That excess chicken fat weighed 144 grams, so we had 6.41% (ie. 144/2230*100%= 6.41%) of the raw purchased weight ended up as unusable fat in the bottom of the roasting pan.

The Hidden Costs of Soybean based Chicken Feeds

According to CFC's Annual Report for 2014 (see page 18), Canada's Chicken Mafia raised a total of 1,067,291,000 kg of eviscerated chicken in 2014.  Assuming my home kitchen test applies to all of that Chicken Mafia chicken, that 6.41% excess fat converts to a total loss to Canadians of 68.41 million kg of wasted fat.  Statistics Canada Table 326-0012 reported the Canadian average cost of whole chicken in 2014 was $7.23/kg., so that excess CAFO fat is a total loss caused by excess, unhealthy fat of $494.6 million per year; forced upon Canadians with no knowledge, disclosure, nor choice.

As calculated above, the CAFO chicken fat isn't healthy for us to eat, and overly fattened CAFO chickens wastes about $0.5 Billion per year from Canada's wallets.

In addition, soybeans are well known for their isoflavones (such as genistein and others, plant compounds that mimic human estrogen).  Soybean is the leading suspect in causing 9 yr. old girls to grow breasts and start early menstruation.  See this Scientific American article.

While the soybean is a relatively cheap source of protein, perhaps there are reasons for it being cheap, and we need to be wary of the hidden consequences of that cheap protein source.

No doubt, soybean-based feeds for chickens will maximize the Chicken Mafia's profits.  However, perhaps  it would be far better for Canada and Canadians if there was a different feed formulation and/or better CAFO growing methods so as to avoid adding this excessive and wasteful fat to their chickens.


There ought to be a law against the dysfunctional and questionable practices of the Chicken Mafia and their CAFO chicken factory methods.

Let this be a lesson to all of us.  This is what happens when we are provided no choice.  This is what happens when the Chicken Mafia is expected to make all the choices on our behalf, and we end up with no choice, and the final product presented to us happens
to be better for the Chicken Mafia, than for us.

In short, buy pastured, free range chicken, especially if it is fed a non-soy ration to supplement its natural diet of grass & bugs.  That's the best for both you and the planet.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Chicken Consumer Due Diligence

If the Chicken Mafia are surviving and prospering by spewing their propaganda far and wide, what can a consumer do to overcome the lies, half truths, and misleading omissions by the CAFO chicken factory owners and their henchmen?

Consumers must fight back with due diligence.

The above clip from the TV show Portlandia satirizes what well informed restaurant staff must go through to make a sale to overly conscientious guests who must know the provenance of the chicken on the menu.

It's funny because it went to an extreme.  It's sad, because that is what consumers are being forced to do more and more so as to overcome the Big Food propaganda machine.

Monday, January 18, 2016

C4: Canadian Campylobacter Contaminated Chicken

About half of Canada's chicken on retail store shelves is contaminated with campylobacter jejuni.

FoodNet Canada collects food safety surveillance samples at 3 different sentinal sites (Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta) on behalf of Public Health Agency of Canada.  In the 2014 Short Report of FoodNet Canada, they reported:
  • "In 2014, Campylobacter and Salmonella remained the most common causes of human enteric illness in the [three] sentinel sites",
  • "Campylobacter was the most prevalent pathogen found on skinless chicken breast in all sites with close to one-half of all samples testing positive.";
  • "In turkey [farms] in the BC [sentinal] site, Campylobacter was again the most common pathogen found in 2014, as in 2013. Campylobacter was also commonly found in beef and dairy manure samples in the ON [sentinal] site, as in previous years. Campylobacter prevalence in broiler chickens was variable across the [3 sentinal] sites, ranging from 8.7% - 22%.";
  • "...the 2014 FoodNet Canada sampling year have demonstrated that retail meat products, particularly chicken products, remain an important source of human enteric pathogens."
Perhaps Canada's Chicken Mafia thinks this level of chicken contamination is OK, because UK's CAFO chicken is 73% contaminated and US CAFO chicken is about 40% contaminated, so Canada's CAFO chicken is in the middle of the pack.

The common denominator across Canada, UK, and USA is their use of dysfunctional CAFO technologies, which causes serious problems in all countries that use CAFO.  Most unfortunately, those CAFO risks spill over to all countries who don't use CAFO.  Everybody on the planet gets impacted by CAFO, whether their country has used CAFO, or not.

Who Cares?

OK, so Canada's chicken is contaminated.  So what's the big deal?  Can't I just wash it off?  If I cook it properly, won't it kill the bugs?

Good questions.  Perhaps you don't have to worry.  On the other hand...

In the 2014-2015 year long study for the UK study of chicken in UK grocery stores , they found that 7% of the chicken packaging was contaminated with deadly bacteria on the exterior surface of the packaging.  I think it's reasonable to assume the same packaging contamination exists in Canada and USA.  Therefore:
  • When you pick up the package from the meat counter, those deadly bacteria are now all over your hands.  If you touch your mouth or eyes, you will likely be infected, and can get very sick.  If you touch your child, or your fresh vegetables, now they are contaminated too.
  • If your package of CAFO chicken brushes up against your fresh vegetables while they're in your shopping cart, you may die from this invisible mistake.
  • Somebody used your shopping cart before you arrived at the grocery store.  What will happen to you if that prior cart user handled or purchased CAFO contaminated chicken?  In that case, the inside of your grocery cart may be contaminated with deadly bacteria before you begin your shopping.  It isn't enough to sanitize just the handle of your shopping cart.

  • If you put your CAFO chicken into your reusable shopping bag to take it home, the contamination on the packaging exterior (plus any meat juice that oozes out of the package) has now contaminated your shopping bag.  How often do you sanitize the interior of your shopping bags?  Do you keep just one specially marked shopping bag for just CAFO chicken?  If you don't, the next time you go shopping, you may cross-contaminate your fresh produce and kill a family member.
    A HAZMAT suit, optional
    equipment for buying,
    storing, or cooking CAFO
    chicken in Canada
Have I got you scared yet?

Here are our recommendations on how to buy, store and cook CAFO chicken factory meat. So far, a HAZMAT suit is optional.

If you try to wash the bugs off your chicken, you will likely splash those bugs all over your kitchen counters and anything sitting on them within a 10 ft. radius from the sink.  Each micro drop splashing off the chicken can have enough bacteria to make a person seriously ill.

A scientific study has shown that the 50% probability of an infective dose of campylobacter for humans is approximately 900 cells; thus, the potential for human exposure to the bacteria through cross contamination, poor hygiene, or undercooking in the kitchen is high.

That is why public health officials recommend against washing the chicken before cooking.

Why don't they tell the public that a farmer with a sharp knife can kill and process a chicken with 96% less bacterial contamination than the CAFO chicken factories and their high speed processing lines?

Beyond the health risks, there is nutrition and taste.

Why don't they tell people there are alternatives to CAFO, such as pastured poultry, where no antibiotics are required, the birds are healthier and happier, the resulting meat is better tasting, and the nutrition levels in that pastured chicken is far superior to that produced by a CAFO system?

How Sick Will You Get?

How sick you get will depend upon your prior health, how big of a dose of bacteria you get, the state of your immune system, and how quickly you get the right medical help.

Campylobacter jejuni, has been recognized as a major cause of acute bacterial gastroenteritis in humans since the late 1970s and it is estimated that Campylobacter sp. are responsible for 400–500 million cases of diarrhea each year on a worldwide basis.

Prior to 1992, fluoroquinolone (FQ) antimicrobials (e.g., ciprofloxacin) resistance in Campylobacter was rarely observed in the USA and Canada, but several recent reports have indicated that approximately 19–47% of Campylobacter strains isolated from humans were resistant to ciprofloxacin.

That means it isn't a sure thing that a hospital can cure you of a campylobacter infection by using antibiotics.  If it gets bad, you could die, or have a few feet length of your bowl removed during emergency surgery.

This Blog has previously reported on the mis-use of ciprofloxin by the Chicken Mafia.  All CAFO chicken factories are supposed to be monitored by the supreme Chicken Farmers of Canada ("CFC"), as well as their respective provincial Chicken Mafia boss.  In spite of this alleged monitoring and supervision, more than one CAFO chicken factory was caught using illegal feed laced with this antibiotic; a ploy to maximize that CAFO farmer's profit and minimize their risk, in spite of the added risks to the public from their bad behaviour.  Fortunately, Public Health Canada discovered their plot, found them, and stopped them from continuing to feed this illegal antibiotic to chickens that produce eggs for hatching into meat birds.

The circle closes.  Campylobacter resistance to ciprofloxin is rapidly growing, likely caused or contributed to by the mis-use of this drug by the Chicken Mafia.  Unfortunately, it isn't just ciprofloxin where the mis-use of antibiotics occur.

Public Health Agency of Canada has reported that:
 "each year there are 4000 hospitalizations (range 3200–4800) and 105 (range 75–139) deaths associated with domestically acquired foodborne illness related to 30 known pathogens and 7600 (range 5900–9650) hospitalizations and 133 (range 77–192) deaths associated with unspecified agents, for atotal estimate of 11,600 (range 9250–14,150) hospitalizations and 238 (range 155–323) deaths associated with domestically acquired foodborne illness in Canada."
"Key pathogens associated with these hospitalizations or deaths include norovirus, nontyphoidal Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., VTEC O157 and Listeria monocytogenes"
"These estimates of hospitalizations and deaths capture only a part of the burden for all pathogens as they only account for acute illness and do not include hospitalizations or deaths related to chronic sequelae associated with the original infection (e.g., Guillain-Barre´ syndrome associated with Campylobacter spp.). Additional work to better understand the burden of chronic sequelae associated with foodborne pathogens in Canada is needed to inform Disability-Adjusted Life Years and cost estimates and facilitate international comparisons."

Those who become infected by campylobacter sometimes develop Guillain–Barré syndrome, an autoimmune disease where, instigated by the campylobacter infection, the body attacks the nerves, dissolving the myelin sheath on the nerves, resulting in numbness, nerve tingling, paralysis, and other serious symptoms.  In the worst case, you can no longer breath, just like in polio, so you get placed on a respirator.  Since the widespread vaccination for polio, Guillain–Barré syndrome has become the #1 cause of flaccid paralysis which puts people onto respirators. 

One study found that campylobacter infections caused 30 cases of  Guillain–Barré syndrome per 100,000 persons infected with campylobacter.  The risk of developing Guillain–Barré syndrome is 100 times greater due to campylobacter than all other causes of this disease.

The National Institute of Health says:
  • "there is no known cure for Guillain-Barré syndrome."
  • "Guillain-Barré syndrome can be a devastating disorder because of its sudden and unexpected onset. In addition, recovery is not necessarily quick. As noted above, patients usually reach the point of greatest weakness or paralysis days or weeks after the first symptoms occur. Symptoms then stabilize at this level for a period of days, weeks, or, sometimes, months. The recovery period may be as little as a few weeks or as long as a few years. About 30 percent of those with Guillain-Barré still have a residual weakness after 3 years. About 3 percent may suffer a relapse of muscle weakness and tingling sensations many years after the initial attack. Guillain-Barré syndrome patients face not only physical difficulties, but emotionally painful periods as well. It is often extremely difficult for patients to adjust to sudden paralysis and dependence on others for help with routine daily activities. Patients sometimes need psychological counseling to help them adapt."
In short, if the government allows CAFO chicken factories to continue causing campylobacter outbreaks, the Chicken Mafia are being allowed to play with fire, and it's you and me who get tossed into that fire.

Mis-Use of Antibiotics

As mentioned in yesterday's Blog posting about the MCR-1 fiasco, this mis-use of important antibiotics by CAFO factories has been going on for more than 46 years.

It's about time the government brought it to a full and complete stop.

Unfortunately, the government's current plan is to coast into the next exit ramp, then take a different antibiotic highway (ie. the back roads), so that it isn't so obvious that the Chicken Mafia will continue doing what they do best, screwing and endangering the public so they can maximize their profits.

The Chicken Mafia are already multi-millionaires.  Why do the Chicken Mafia have to put the whole planet at risk so they can earn an artificially higher income?

I guess they feel being a multi-millionaire isn't enough, they want to be a billionaire.

Friday, January 15, 2016

MCR-1: Tragedy of the Commons for Antibiotics

CAFO factory farms have done it again.  MCR-1 may be the clarion call to the end of the antibiotic era, where most bacteria will be totally resistant to all or most antibiotics.

Originating on a Chinese CAFO  (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) factory farm for pigs, scientists discovered the plasmid-mediated colistin resistance mechanism ("MCR-1" #mcr1) that gives bacteria resistance to an extremely important antibiotic called colistin. 

I call it another example of #TragedyOfTheCommons, this time attacking the "Antibiotic Commons".

CBC Radio program The Current has summarized the MCR-1 issues quite nicely in a 25 minute segment.  Listen here.

Colistin resistance has been found encoded within a bacteria's plasmid, a piece of genetic material found in most cells, including bacteria.  Plasmids can be rapidly transferred between different bacteria, makings rapid spread of this antibiotic resistance highly likely.  That newly discovered colistin resistant plasmid is called "MCR-1"

Nothing New Under The Sun

Jim Romahn of Agri007 informs me this risk from MCR-1 is nothing new.  Transference of antimicrobial resistance via plasmids was a known risk back in 1969 when Lord Swann presented his "Report of the Joint Committee on the Use of Antibiotics in Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Medicine, 1969"  to the UK Parliament.

The 1969 Swann Report said:
"the administration of antibiotics to farm livestock, particularly at sub-therapeutic levels, poses certain hazards to human and animal health"; in particular it had led to resistance in enteric bacteria of animal origin. This resistance was transmissible to other bacteria (it had been the discovery that this might be so, followed by an epidemic of resistant S. typhimurium in 1963-65, which prompted Ministers to appoint the Committee); and enteric bacteria were transferable from animals to man. 
It therefore recommended that only antibiotics which "have little or no application as therapeutic agents in man or animals and will not impair the efficacy of a prescribed therapeutic drug or drugs through the development of resistant strains of organisms" should be usable for growth promotion. The Report named the following antibiotics, which were then in use for growth promotion, as unsuitable for such use: chlortetracycline, oxytetracycline, penicillin, tylosin (a macrolide related to erythromycin) and the sulphonamides. The Government largely accepted these recommendations.
The Report recommended that a single advisory committee, constituted under the Medicines Act 1968, "should have overall responsibility for the whole field of use of antibiotics and related substances whether in man, animals, food preservation, or for other purposes". It also recommended research into alternative means of growth promotion; and improved surveillance and epidemiology of diseases common to animals and man.

Government:  Hare or Tortoise

Now we don't want to rush the governments of the world, but we have been on this Mis-Use of Antibiotics for the last 46 years

Isn't it about time that we can move forward with confidence and clarity about antimicrobial mis-use?

China Syndrome

Medscape reports:
  • China is the world's largest producer of both pork and chicken;
  • About 10% of China's pork and chicken is exported to other countries;
  • 22.3% of China's retail pork samples, and 28% of chicken meat samples were infected with MCR-1 as of 2014;
  • 1% of inpatients in China's health care system with infections have MCR-1 as of 2014
That doesn't mean the world can be saved by slapping a ban on all things Chinese, and impose travel restrictions.  It's already too late.

MCR-1 Contamination of the Planet

Today, 23 countries have found MCR-1 present, dating back as far as 2005. Canadian scientists have found MCR-1 in samples taken from an Ottawa hospital patient who had previously traveled to Egypt, as well as ground beef sold at Canadian retail stores as early as 2010.  France found MCR-1 in samples taken from ill veal calves way back in 2005.

The bugs know what they're doing.  Us stupid humans might eventually find out what the bugs know and what the bugs have been doing all along, however that human knowledge will often be gained 10 years too late.  Is this reason enough for the Precautionary Principle to become irrefutable public policy?

As far as we know today, MCR-1 bacteria are not resistant to other antibiotics, but that can soon change. See the previous paragraph.

Colistin:   The Ancient Wonderdrug is Re-born

The colistin drug was discovered in 1949, with its use on human infections starting in 1959.  Colistin was found to be toxic to the kidneys and nerves of humans, so ongoing use of colistin was dramatically reduced, thereafter limited to just drastic situations for very sick humans. In North America, colistin has been reserved as a "antibiotic of last resort" due to its powerful effects on infections, as well as the significant negative side effects for humans.  That meant minimal sales income for the Big Pharma manufacturers of colistin

Did someone bother to tell China about this decision on colistin?  Maybe China didn't get the Memo.

Tough Questions for China, Big Ag., & Big Pharma

I have some questions about China and colistin:
  1. Who is using colistin in China? 
  2. Is it just the Chinese Big Ag. CAFO factory farms that use colistin?
  3. Have any Small Flock farms used colistin?
  4. Whether CAFO or Small Flock, who taught the Chinese about colistin?
  5. Did the Chinese government suggest or force some or all farms to use colistin?
  6. Were North American, European, or other "experts" (with or without self interest, conflict of interest, or bias) responsible for training, selling, or suggesting the use of colistin?
  7. If foreigners aided or abetted the Chinese starting to use colistin, do these outsiders have some stewardship, liability, or responsibility for the imminent disaster from the use or mis-use of colistin?
  8. Did the use of colistin take off in China because foreign "Snake Oil Salesmen" were preying on dirt poor, peasant farmers in China? 

I don't know the answers to these interesting questions.  If you do know for sure, please post the answers below (and the source of your knowledge) so we will all know.  I sense that China is all grown up and can stand on its own two feet, both now and 10 years ago when colistin use in China was just starting.  However, I also assume that there is significant variation from the most aware, to the least aware person in China.   

Look at how many Canadians fall each year for the ongoing Nigerian scams, phishing, and other frauds. Was it the same in China for colistin?  Some media reports say that colistin is used for the large Chinese CAFO farms, so that is what we will assume is true until we have better knowledge.

My Assumptions

I assume that:
  1. Chinese CAFO's are as bad or worse than North American CAFO's
  2. China realized that they needed a strong and effective antibiotic for their CAFO factory farms for chicken and pork;
  3. China couldn't or wouldn't afford the expensive, modern drugs and antibiotics that have been used in North American CAFO factory farms for the last 65 years.
  4. The patent on colistin had run out, and this drug technology was free for the taking.
  5. China learned that farm animals could be treated with colistin, survive the terrible CAFO experience, and avoid most side effects that limited colistin use by humans.
  6. China learned how to manufacture colistin for the rapidly growing number of Chinese CAFO farms.

China:  Their Colistin Production & Use

The Guardian reports that China is now one of the world’s largest users and producers of colistin for agriculture and veterinary use. Worldwide, the demand for colistin in agriculture is expected to reach almost 12,000 tonnes a year by the end of 2015, rising to 16,500 tonnes by 2021.

National Geographic reports:   "Of the top ten largest producers of colistin for veterinary use, one is Indian, one is Danish, and eight are Chinese.  Asia (including China) makes up 73·1% of colistin production with 28·7% for export including to Europe."

One Chinese manufacturer chosen at random, boasts that they can  supply 1000 kg per day of colistin.  It is unknown if this is the plant's maximum capacity, or just the un-sold capacity for which they seek additional customers.  They recommend colistin use for calves, lambs, chicken, turkey, and rabbits.

A search of Alibaba shows 85 pages of ads from  Chinese colistin manufacturers, with about 38 ads per page, for an approximate total of 3,230 ads that sell the colistin antibiotic for agricultural use.  Some of these ads may be duplicates, or slight variations on the same product (eg. different packaging).  Even so, that's a lot of ads and commercial activity focused on just one agricultural antibiotic.

Colistin has been used for more than a decade in huge quantities in the Third World (especially China) as a tool to artificially increase farm profits. Colistin is mainly used for treating intestinal infections (or CAFO living conditions) for rabbits, pigs, poultry, veal calves, cattle, sheep, goats, and aquaculture (ie. fish farms); including animals producing eggs and milk destined for human consumption.  The primary uses for colistin are pigs and chickens.  Colistin is also used to treat horses with infections.

CAFO-based Use of Antibiotics

Whether in China or elsewhere, factory farmers increase their profits by feeding their animals the colistin drug (and other witch's brew) on a chronic basis. Colistin can help ensure higher profits and lower risk for the farm by lowering the farmer's risk of an animal becoming sick or dying, and helping the animal gain weight faster.

Animal absorption of orally dosed colistin (ie. colistin added to the animal's food and/or water) is very poor, meaning most of the drug never leaves the animal's digestive tract, requiring large doses of the drug to get the necessary effect.  This means the manure and other farm waste streams will have a high concentration of colistin, and that drug will tend to travel off-farm to the surrounding environment (ie. via manure spreaders, wind, and water flows).  What happens for the Chinese village that takes its potable drinking water from a stream just downstream of a CAFO farm that uses colistin?

Antibiotic Priority:   Human or Animal?

On a kg. per year basis, about 80% of all antibiotics in the world are used on farms to treat animals, and 20% are used to treat humans.  While the drug sale price for agricultural use is much lower than human drugs, they make it up on volume.

In 2013, Pfizer (the world's largest pharmaceuticals company), spun-off its 80.2% interest in Zoetis (the world's largest agricultural drug company), for a sale price of $10.3 Billion.  That makes Zoetis worth  $12.84 Billion.  In 2014, Pfizer's gross sales from continuing operations was $9.1 Billion; just 70.9% of the value of Zoetis. 

I therefore suggest that the agricultural side of Big Pharma is just as important as the human side, if not bigger.

Because colistin wasn't being used much for humans,  there was little or no antibacterial resistance developing from this limited use, in spite of colistin having been around for 66 years.  Meanwhile, other "drugs of last resort" were developing antibiotic resistance (eg. carbapenem resistance in Gram-negative bacteria was reported in 2012, and was quickly seen as an extreme concern, as few therapeutic alternatives remained for humans).  This growing resistance rendered these "drugs of last resort" less useful, or useless to help people.  As drug resistance grew for carbapenem and other drugs, colistin started to be used more and more to treat human infections.

When you use a drug on a handful of very sick people as a "drug of last resort" used by medical professionals, the risk of developing antibiotic resistance is pretty small.

What about feeding that same drug to millions of farm animals?  I suggest the risk of developing drug resistance from CAFO agricultural operations is orders of magnitude bigger.

As you can guess, these two simultaneous but different uses of colistin would soon collide.  The dramatic collision between the conflicting uses of colistin occurred when MCR-1 was born.   Chinese researchers found colistin resistant bacteria, and that resistance was readily transferred to previously non-resistant bacteria while the scientists watched.  Further investigations showed the resistance to colistin had been transferred by a special plasmid that had never been seen before; an MCR-1.

Rather than hiding it, the Chinese scientist alerted the authorities, and the Chinese government allowed the publication of this critical info in the Lancet, the leading medical journal.

Well done China, for quick & full disclosure.  This is proof positive that the Chinese are team players in the world community.

I find it interesting that we usually get delay, deny, destroy, defend, distract, deride, and deflect from Canada's Chicken Mafia.  Thank God MCR-1 occurred in a Chinese CAFO, rather than Canada.

MCR-1 Impact on People

MCR-1 will primarily effect people with immune compromised systems.  Unfortunately, about 30% of Canada's population fit that category.  While you may not have a compromised immune system, it is likely that you are surrounded by people who are immune-compromised.  Once an immune-compromised person becomes infected, with life threatening consequences, you may be next as their growing infection might spill over to you via direct or indirect contact with those immune-suppressed persons who get hit by MCR-1.

While the human use of colistin has been previously limited, not so around the world.  China and other developing nations have been using huge amounts of collistin on farm animals (eg. pigs, chickens, etc,).

Antibiotic Mis-Use:   Who to Blame?

Why would Chinese farmers do this colistin treatment to their animals? 

Chinese farmers treat their pigs, chickens, and possibly other animals with colistin because:
  • Chinese farmers can buy colistin at a cheap price;
  • There are significant, immediate benefits to the farmer's pocketbook;
  • There are no laws against it; and
  • Colistin has acceptable side effects on animals (significantly less than those on humans).
Those colistin treated farm animals eventually become food for the Chinese people, as well as food exported to the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, Chinese farmers chose to increase their personal, private profits, while the risk and costs from the farmer's questionable behaviours get pushed onto the unsuspecting public.  It isn't just Chinese farmers; Canadian and USA farmers are just as guilty, European farmers less so recently, but all of these still do it to a lesser degree.  For example, Canadian poultry farmers and egg hatcheries have been guilty of abusing ciprofloxin, ceftiofur, and other Class I antibiotics.

Do you know where the food in your grocery store comes from and how it was raised?  Again, you can only truly know your food by knowing your local farmer, coupled with traceability and full disclosure.

It isn't just farmers who are guilty of antibiotic mis-use.  Humans who are non-complaint during the taking and/or disposing of their antibiotics are also guilty.

In other words, there is enough blame to go around for everybody.

Tools to Help Solve Antibiotic Mis-Use

When a problem is large, important, urgent, complicated, and diffuse, Pareto says we should focus our efforts using the 80/20 Rule.  More than 80% of all antibiotics are used in agriculture, exactly fitting the 80/20 Pareto Rule.  In addition, most of the worst violations (based on magnitude, frequency, incidence rate, prevalence rate, severity, risk, and detectability) all occur in agriculture.

Therefore all of our efforts to find and enforce a solution should be focused in agriculture.

These cases of on-farm antibiotic mis-use usually happen at CAFO's, also known as factory farms.  Therefore we should put all of our attention and resources against mis-use of antibiotics on CAFO farms.

As a small flock farmer, I have never used antibiotics for growth promotion.  I suggest it is the rare (I doubt any) small flock poultry farmer who would use antibiotics for growth promotion. I find no need to use ionophores (a non-antibiotic) to control coccidiosis.

In contrast to small flock farms, CAFO poultry factories would have thousands of dead birds without using their coccideostats and antibiotics.  Agricultural experts who work for the Ontario government have stated that it is impossible to raise commercial chickens without the use of antibiotics.  If a CAFO chicken factory stopped using antibiotics, and repeatedly suffered huge mortality rates, soon the CAFO chicken factories would die a different death:   bankruptcy

Therefore, we need to focus our antimicrobial efforts on CAFO factory farms.  After the CAFO-based mis-use of all antibiotics (and related products) is solved, we can move on to the secondary priorities.

The fight against CAFO-based mis-use of antimicrobials should receive first pick of all available government resources and attention (eg. manpower, research, $, media releases, surveys, audits, regulatory action, etc.) until the battle is won.  No secondary efforts (eg. hospital use of antibiotics, non-CAFO use, etc.) or other distractions should be allowed to occur if they would impede or distract from CAFO-based antibiotic mis-use.  These seemingly radical recommendations are based on Pareto, and Project Management principles (PMBOK and CCPM); all of which are well established methods to get the greatest impact as quickly and cheaply as possible.

Canada's Plan Against Antibiotic Mis-Use

The Canadian Federal Government has developed a framework to attack antimicrobial resistance, which has a focus on Surveillance, Stewardship, and Innovation.  Sounds nice, doesn't it.   Unfortunately, after reading what that means, it seems to me that Big Pharma and Big Ag. lobbyists were involved in the drafting of that framework, achieved regulatory capture, and controlled the development of that Federal Government plan through delay, denial, distraction, defending, destroying, deriding, and deflecting.  Apparently, they never heard of Pareto, and the previous Conservative Government didn't want to rock the boat for their friends in the Big Pharma-Big Ag. industries.

A Sham:   Canada's Ban of Antibiotic Growth Promotion

A Canadian ban is scheduled to come into effect in 2017 on the use of antibiotics for animal growth promotion, similar to what is planned in the USA.  It used to be that some antibiotics caused some animals grow more quickly and reduced their mortality rates (ie. think Frankenstein, coming back to life, and unable to be killed).  Note that this doesn't necessarily mean that the resulting antibiotic-enhanced meat is nutritionally better or safer; likely the contrary is true.   Today, antibiotics are fed to farm animals with little or no proof that they are effective for the intended purpose; especially in real farm conditions.  The ideal laboratory conditions that Big Pharma may have based their drug research upon may not apply to the real CAFO farm conditions.  Colistin is so old, there is little research ever done on efficacy or risk.

Most antimicrobial drugs can be used as growth promotants, or to treat a disease.  Only "growth promotant" use will be banned in 2017.  When the 2017 growth promotant ban comes into effect, will Big Ag. force or influence their Veterinarians to write prescriptions for the continued use of their antibiotic drugs of choice, as permitted in the pending regulations by a mile-wide loophole in the 2017 ban?

One of the biggest problems in CAFO farms is that Big Pharma aids, abets, and encourages these antibiotic mis-uses.

Un-Holy Alliance between Big. Ag. & Big Pharma

In general, Big Pharma may have some ancient dusty, limited research to indicate some positive effect for an agricultural drug, perhaps decades previously. Are these Big Pharma studies on antibiotic use on farms similar to the ones conducted by &/or for the tobacco industry that showed smoking didn't cause cancer, was not addictive, and was good for you?  Do those ancient results still apply to today's CAFO farms in all cases?  It's possible that the antibiotics being used have no noticeable effect (or are a detriment), yet they are still used today based on that antiquated Voodoo quasi-research by biased researchers.  If true, that un-necessary use of antibiotics that are wrongly encouraged by that faulty research brings no benefits, but it also brings the guaranteed risk and costs of antimicrobial resistance from this pseudo science; based upon a Big Pharma--Big Ag. unholy alliance.

In Canada, the farmer really doesn't care about the cost of  the drugs he feeds the animals, as he receives guaranteed reimbursement for all standard costs, plus a handsome profit margin.  All costs are fully passed on to consumers.  If farmers had to justify the spending of their hard earned money on questionable drugs each month, they might ask Big Pharma some tougher questions.  If the Supply Management industry spends huge efforts to justifying the use of CAFO antibiotics, they might find these potent and risky drugs aren't totally necessary, they stop buying, their farm costs go down, and the next cheque they receive under Supply Management for their farm gate price goes down accordingly, and their farm markup also goes down as it's based on a percentage of the costs, and the CAFO-based Supply Management farmers then earn less money.  Do you see one reason we have an unholy alliance between Supply Management (Big Ag.) and Big Pharma?

When Big Pharma's conducts R&D for an antibiotic, huge amounts of money are spent.  Big Pharma wants to recoup that investment any way they can, as quickly as possible.  Big Pharma is highly motivated to get cash flow NOW to recoup their R&D expenses.  While they may be limited within the developed world to "do what's right" by government regulators and the fear of lawsuits or fines when they get caught, those same forces don't exist in the undeveloped world.  Unfortunately, Big Pharma isn't internally restraining themselves to "do what's right" in the Third World.  The big cost is the R&D, while the cost to manufacture the drug is dirt cheap.  Does Big Pharma decide on a Third World price for their antibiotic so that Third World agriculture can be enticed to use it, thereby generating instant cash flow for Big Pharma, regardless the long term consequences for the entire world?

Bad science and unethical use of antibiotics anywhere in the world will eventually result in the growth and spread of these antimicrobial apocalypses indirectly, as seen by MCR-1.

Antibiotic Resistance:  MCR-1 and Beyond

MND-1 (a.k.a. NDM-1), is another example of antibiotic resistance, and the consequences for mankind.  Medical News Today says:
"NDM-1, which stands for New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase-1 is a gene (DNA code) carried by some bacteria. If a bacteria strain carries the NDM-1 gene it is resistant to nearly all antibiotics, including carbapenem antibiotics - also known as antibiotics of last resort.

Carbepenems are the most powerful antibiotics, used as a last resort for many bacterial infections, such as E. coli and Klebsiella. The NDM-1 gene makes the bacterium produce an enzyme which neutralizes the activity of carbepenem antibiotics.

A bacterium carrying the NDM-1 gene is the most powerful superbug around.
As of 2010, some strains of bacteria, such as E. coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae carry the NDM-1 gene.  NDM-1 has spread from India, to Europe, Australia, and is now in Canada and USA.
Today, CDC estimates 2.3 million people per year in the USA will get sick this year from an antibiotic resistant infection, and 37,000 will die as a direct and indirect result of antibiotic resistance.

Health Canada reports a 14-fold increase in the use of last-line antibiotics to treat difficult infections since 2002, and more than 18,000 patients acquire multi-drug-resistant strains of bacteria each year in Canada.  Canada doesn't collect antibiotic resistance statistics similar to CDC, but based on 10:1 population ratios between US and Canada, we can estimate that 230,000 Canadians become sick, and 3,700 Canadians die each year from antibiotic resistance.

This Blog has also been pointing out the antibiotic crimes and misdemeanors in the poultry industry and in farming in general (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).

World Health Organization ("WHO") reports that in 2013, there were about 480 000 new cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB, ie resistant to all known drugs) has been identified in 100 countries.  MDR-TB requires treatment courses that are much longer and less effective than those for non-resistant TB.  USA's Centre for Disease Control ("CDC") offers similar warnings.  XDR-TB can no longer be effectively treated by antibiotics for 50% to 70% of patients.  This antibiotic resistance was primarily started by the mis-use of TB antibiotics, primarily in the 3rd world.

The use of antibiotics in agriculture is primarily an enteric (gut or digestive) system focus, not TB.  Humans are also dramatically effected by enteric infections, and most of the enteric infections of animals can be immediately transferred to humans and infect humans by the meat and animal products that are contaminated by enteric bacteria from the animals.  If the above history for TB is valid for the continued mis-use of antibiotics for enteric problems of farm animals, it seems reasonable to assume at some point in the future, as many as 70% of human enteric infections will no longer be treatable by antibiotics.

That means thousand to millions of people will die each year from untreatable enteric diseases due to the mis-use of antibiotics that has already occurred, or what will soon occur if we allow the destruction to continue due to some unknown suicidal tendency.

So what are the long term consequences for ignoring the consequences of mis-use of antibiotics for the last 46 years (ie. 1969 Swann Report to today), and plan on continuing this Russian Roulette for another 46 years?

Tragedy of the Commons

I suggest that the mis-use of antibiotics is a sad example of the "Tragedy of the Commons", which is quickly killing the world's "Antibiotic Commons".

To protect the Antibiotic Commons, what is prohibited directly (ie. domestically) must be prohibited from occurring indirectly (ie. in foreign jurisdictions).

We only have one world.  For antibiotics and their mis-use, what is done by one person eventually affects all persons.  No man nor nation is an island unto themselves.  Rules to protect the Antibiotic Commons must be consistent everywhere, or all of us will eventually suffer from the weakest link in the world-wide chain of antibiotic use (or mis-use) that binds us all.

"The last capitalist we hang shall be the one who sold us the rope.”

Karl Marx, German economist & Communist political philosopher (1818 - 1883)  

Is there an equivalent quotation for governments, Big Ag, and Big Pharma and their 46 year co-operation and insistence on the mis-use of antibiotics in agriculture?  

Dr. Elinor Ostrum won the Nobel Prize in Economics for showing that the Commons is not always a tragedy.  Dr. Ostrum had her summer cottage on Manitoulin Island, about 15 km. from my home.  In her research, she gave numerous examples where individuals and communities had developed systems to protect their particular Commons, and enhance it; making their Commons a sustainable resource for hundreds of years.

These positive examples can be used as a catalyst to develop solutions to protect and enhance the Antibiotic Commons.

The Montreal Protocol for reducing ozone depleting substances is generally the best example of co-ordinated international action to protect a Commons; in that case, the Ozone Commons.

I suggest that the Antibiotic Commons is no less important than the Ozone Commons. 

Time To Act

The time for action is now, before it's too late.  We cannot afford to waste another 46 years, distracted by the lobbyists of Big Ag and Big Pharma; two of the biggest and most powerful lobbyist groups in the world.  

Once again, the world has been warned; this time by MCR-1.

When will we listen, learn, and change our behaviours for the better?