Factory "Farm" Culled Chick Rescue and Recovery

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by dennisfear, Jun 30, 2011.

  1. dennisfear

    dennisfear New Egg

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    Jun 26, 2011
    North Georgia is "home" to thousands of factory chicken houses. Every day dozens of "culls" are gathered from each building and disposed of at the discretion of the factory manager, who usually lives on site and is contracturally obligated to cull non-standard chicks according to agribusiness specifications. I acquire culls from a neighbor and friend who burns these "useless" birds. Presumably he wrings the live culls' necks before throwing them on the fire. I haven't asked.

    I would like to meet someone from my area (Northwest Georgia) who caponizes and could give me some hands-on instruction. I'm not much of a book-learner. Initially, I asked for culled birds simply to experiment on in learning to caponize young roosters, but the idea expanded as soon as I was introduced to the live birds, who are deeply traumatized by the brutal concentration-camp experience of the factory farm. Now I'm thinking a bit bigger, and perhaps a bit badder as well. On first bringing the chicks home, four or five out of about a dozen were already dead, and I tried to find testes through surgery but was unsuccessful. Perhaps they were all hens? It is my understanding that these birds are not sexed, and that I should get about 50/50 hens and chicks. I don't yet know how to sex young chicks, but I have met a local chicken house worker who may help me with that.

    Those birds who survived the shock of liberation have amazingly and gradually begun to act like real chickens, and their individual personalities have started to emerge, along with their instincts to scratch and forage. They are, naturally, still terrified of humans. If I am to continue this project into the future, there are a number of issues and questions to be addressed:

    Diseases - When first acquired, the living chicks smell of death, and not just because of the dead birds they accompany. When released in their new home, this smell lingers with the birds for several days. This is the smell you will find inside a chicken house, masked from the outside by the concentrated smell of chicken manure, which while offensive to some, is far more pleasant than the smell inside the houses. When no longer fed massive doses of hormones and antibiotics, the chicks' immune systems and natural behaviors should rapidly rebound, but in the meantime what diseases or parasites am I likely to bring home with these birds and spread to my flock, which may eventually become overwhelmingly based on these birds? I may set up a quarantine area for the new birds, but could use some guidance in this. And what about some sort of dusting or bathing or gassing of the new chicks? Perhaps they should be fed antibiotic/antiparasitic natural food additives, like garlic, diatomaceous earth, etc?

    Legality - I'd like to see other animal lovers engage, in a friendly way, in this sort of rescue. Make friends with chicken house managers, who are usually fairly poor and just trying to hang onto their family farmland and make a living off of it. They should not be judged or condemned for the monstrous torture they are forced to collaborate in. But I am fairly sure they are contracturally obligated to dispose of culls in a way that seeks to elliminate all culls from the market through their destruction and burial. Anyone who has knowledge of the contractural obligations of fryer/broiler factory farm managers would be a great help here. For now, I'm not going to ask my supplier directly. I'm pretty sure he doesn't know and doesn't care.

    Advantages - Of course the birds are free for the taking, and for some managers I hope there would be a sense of relief from the necessity to gratuitously murder innocent creatures at the start of every workday, although they are unlikely to talk about it. If you like to have chicks to eat bugs in your garden, cull rescue will give you chicks all through the growing season. After a growth and purification period, you will have meat birds year round, if culls are rescued regularly. These are not birds from an egg producing breed, but of course like all chickens they will lay, just not as much as laying breeds, but perhaps (is this true?) over a longer period. I don't even know what breed these birds are, but of course they are all white. Does anybody know? Leghorns? They are not bred for beauty, and are frankly still a bit unattractive, especially about the head.

    I've heard there are what, 5, 10, 20?, times as many chickens in the world as there are humans, and almost all of them suffer unimaginably inhumane living and dying conditions. This state of affairs is intolerable and unsustainable. One day soon I expect we will have the opportunity and necessity to transition from this sort of mass over-production to a more humane human/animal society. This project might be a small embryonic step in that direction.

    Love to all, including the birds.
     
  2. Blue

    Blue Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 6, 2010
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    If these are meat birds, they're most likely Cornish x, which means that they may not actually work well if you're looking for a laying flock, as they're prone to heart failure because of they're large size and may never even reach laying age. If you're using them for meat birds, then they'll probably be ready for the table around 7 or 8 weeks. However, I'm a bit confused about what type of chickens you're trying to start a rescue for, even though it seems like you're talking about meat birds. I knew that males from egg factory hatches were often culled because they can't lay eggs, but why cull meat breed chicks? Do they only cull the hens? If so, maybe because they're less meaty than the roosters? [​IMG]
     
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Note: No hormones are allowed to be fed any chicken in the US.
     
  4. dennisfear

    dennisfear New Egg

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    Jun 26, 2011
    Blue,

    I had no idea the trait selection process in chickens had gone so far that there was a breed that is was unable to lay! If they're not good layers, if they mostly die before laying age, how do we get the birds in the first place? How do they reproduce? Are they clones? These are birds being raised specifically for the table, so they are meat birds, brought to the farm next door by the millions in flat-bed trucks loaded with cages. The cages are taken away empty. It is my understanding that there is no profit in sexing non-hybrid chicks at an early age, and no point at all for meat birds, as you suggest, so these chicks have never been closely or singly examined, coming straight from the factory. In my first dozen culls were several dead birds, which obviously have to be culled. There were two with deformed legs splayed out so they could not stand. This must be a fairly common deformity in the in-bred birds. The rest were just growing more slowly than the others, so they could not reach the drinkers and would soon die of thirst anyway. They are culled as soon as possible, while still alive, to save feed that will be wasted on a dying bird. This is what I was told by a farm manager. I don't think the sex of the chick could enter into culling at this stage. The farm manager I talked to, who supplied the culled chicks to me, said he did not know hens from roosters at this early age. I don't remember what age the birds were. 2 weeks maybe?

    Fred's Hens,

    About ten years ago a broiler/fryer farmer who would not eat the meat he helped produce because of what the birds were fed, including growth hormones which cause the birds to become table ready as early as 6 weeks. How do they get them to grow so fast without hormones in feed? Do they inject it? Is the drastic decrease in the time necessary to raise a table bird due to artificial selection alone? Have the rules changed in the past ten years? What law or regulation are you relying on for your information?
     
  5. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    The USDA, the United States Dept of Agriculture.

    The rapid growth of Cornish X Rock is the result of breeding, not of hormones. Hormones have not been used in the production of poultry in the US for over 50 years. It was tinkered with in the 1940's but it did not improve growth, ie, it did not work. Further, federal law prohibits the use of growth hormones in poultry.

    The backyard raisers of these same CornishX achieve astounding growth rates as well. Again, it is the result of good feed and breeding genetics. Hundreds of BYC's here raise them. There are many, many threads on their experiences.
     
  6. Blue

    Blue Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:About the meat birds, it's not that Cornish x chickens can't lay; it's that they're bred to grow so large so fast, that the strain on their heart usually is too much, and they die prematurely (that's why their optimal butchering age is so young). The meat companies wanted a bird that could grow very large in a short number of weeks, so breeds like this were produced. Since they're only intended for meat, their ability to lay eggs didn't even factor into the equation. Now, as for how they reproduce, the commercial meat chickens like the Cornish x are not an actual breed, but are a cross of 2 breeds, so the actual offspring don't even need to be able to reproduce. The Cornish x is just a mix produced by breeding a Cornish to a White Plymouth Rock.

    It's just the combination of breeds that causes the chickens to grow so fast. Now, how they discovered that combination would yield those traits, I have no idea. Trial and error? They grow that large on their own (you can order Cornish x from hatcheries to grow yourself, and this is just their natural (or unatural...) rate of growth. You have to feed them a special feed with a very, very high protein content to keep them as healthy as possible until butchering age. I prefer the heritage and other types of chickens personally. Cornish x chickens seem to unatural to me, much like broad-breasted turkies. I know they're intended to eat, but nothing should be forced to grow so fast that its health is affected.
     
  7. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Please understand, I am no particular supporter of mass production of chickens either for meat or eggs. My signature contains my own personal aspiration and this sustainable agriculture, at which we work very hard to improve and to continue to learn. With that as background, hopefully, however, you see that fact checking is important when writing a rather lengthy, passionate piece early in your posting career here on BYC on this topic. It is a touchy subject, to be sure. I wish you well in your endeavors.

    From the US Gov:

    "Poultry in the U.S. are fed diets which are primarily ground corn to supply heat and energy and soybean meal to provide protein. Vitamins and minerals are also added in their feed. It takes only 11.4 pounds of feed to rear a broiler to a 6 pound market weight. This same broiler would drink about 3 gallons of water during this time (approximately 7 weeks). Part of the poultry industry's increase in productiveness has largely been attributed to the efficiency of conversion of feed to gain -or- egg production. This increased efficiency can be largely attributed to improvements in genetics and nutrition."

    Also this:
    http://www.ca.uky.edu/poultryprofit...e_US_broiler_industry/Chapter20_hormones.html
     
  8. Chick15

    Chick15 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG] WHY ARE PEOPLE SO HORRIBLE?????

    It is terrible how animals are treated... We are planning to take our roosters to the butcher as we cannot have them. People ask how we will eat the meat (knowing it was "Rusty"or "Rex") and I tell them that i would rather eat one of my chickens which i know what it has been fed and I know that it has had a good life opposed to chickens in factory farms such as these. I find it utterly apalling that young people like me know that this is wrong but grown adults who work here and run these farms do not. I find it quite amuzing that these people have the nerve to call their chickens "cage free" and "farm fresh" to trick people into believing that the eggs and chicken they sell is good, when in fact, they are locked up in a barn with barely space to turn around and treated like this.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 30, 2011
  9. dianaross77

    dianaross77 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 10, 2010
    Grand Blanc, MI
    Am I the only one bothered by someone getting "traumatized chickens to experiment on?"
     
  10. Chick15

    Chick15 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Nope, [​IMG] it bother me too!!!!
     

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