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Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Chicabee19, Jan 23, 2009.
I'm sorry, but that article makes me so mad. they are still talking about factory-farming, except that the chickens are on the floor. But they are probably in a filthy environment -- with 35,000 chickens, they are breathing "fecal dust" which is basically dried poop that becomes airborne. It is a totally unhealthy enviroment that is sure to cause the hen deaths they refer to. Just having "access to the outdoor" in reality in factory farming may just mean there's a small door on one side of a huge warehouse type building with a small run outside. I'd like to know if all 35,000 chickens can be "outside" at the same time! The premise of the article is ridiculous and the doubts it tries to raise are also ridiculous given that it's still factory farming.
To me, "free-range" implies LOTS of space for each chicken, outside all day long, digging in the dirt, eating green grass, etc.
I agree, Chicken Annie.
But a new thread here on real free-ranging and the disease possiblities would be a good idea that could come our of this factory-farm story. Off the top of my head, I already have checked off roundworms as one risk from free range chickens eating infected earthworms. Common problem. Fortunately there are effective wormers.
Anyone want to start a list of other illnesses and parasites?
Flock size was part of the problem, Fossum said. Cages held a maximum of 10 birds. But free-range flocks sometimes contained as many as 35,000 chickens. Even though these chickens had the freedom to hop outside and roll in the dirt, they were more likely to bump into each other, fight, and share diseases.
Number of animals is definitely an issue here.
Nutritionally, Porter added, free-range eggs and meat are virtually identical to the same products from caged chickens.
Why wouldn't they be, if they're eating the same feed, just with space to walk around.
My alumni magazine recently featured an alumni family, the Wilcox family, who raises chickens in WA State: http://www2.ups.edu/arches/. There was a pic (not shown online) of their free-range birds, which was outside... or at least that's the impression given from the shots.
ETA - you can download the PDF of the magazine layout to see the pics of the hens on the grass. DBF laughed that they'd still have grass. The hens look debeaked to me.
I don't know what you call how they keep the chickens in that article, but it sure ain't free-ranging like my chooks do it.
My chickens are free to roam 80 acres from early morning until they choose to go and roost (in their secure coop) at dusk.
They're healthy and pecking issues are non-existent. Lilith has her troubles, so she stays in the yard by her own choice while the others roam. Most important to me they just LOOK happy!
I've seen the inside of quite a few commercial houses where the chickens are raised on dirt floors covered in shavings. There's no comparison. Stay in one of those houses for five minutes and you'll lose your appetite for commercial raised chicken for a long time.
I have to agree, this corporate model of "free-range" is crap. It's not a natural sort of environment at all, and can't be realistically compared to what most people think of when you say "free-range".
I have 22 acres, my birds wander all over it, I have no pecking or cannibalism issues. I seldom see any illness in my flock, and the only parasite problems I encounter are external mites. I deal with them in the fall, at the beginning of molt. By the time they build up again, it fall molt time again. The feed contains food grade DE, I haven't seen any internal parasites with my flock.
Real free-range, at my place:
This is NOT what that article is about.