> From: PLTRYNWS Poultry Health, Production and Management News
> [mailto:PLTRYNWS@SDSUVM.SDSTATE.EDU]On Behalf Of Jim Britton
> Sent: Tuesday, October 19, 1999 4:47 PM
> To: PLTRYNWS@SDSUVM.SDSTATE.EDU
> Subject: Re: FW: Free-range eggs and nutritional differences
Thank you for your comments on the commercial poultry industry and
alternatives that are available. You are obviously well read and familiar
many aspects of commercial poultry production. I wonder, though, if maybe
you're a little optomistic about production costs of birds on free range.
dozen profit? That's unrealistic. Consumers will not pay. Not if we want
sell very many eggs. Also, I'm sure our cost of production will go up, not
down; even though housing cost may decrease, health and performance will
suffer. What about the increase in Salmonella that will occur? How will
The debate you start is very relavent. And you're right, there is a lot
research that could help with many of these concerns.
> I am the one that started this and I am also one of the
> consumers who WAS paying. This month our family has eaten
> the first free-range eggs in our lives and the difference is
> not in our heads. I bought grocery store eggs this weekend
> and we compared the difference in cooked eggs. There is a
> discernible taste difference. If there is a taste difference
> there must be biochemical differences. Ditto for free-range
> chicken meat. It has an almost steak-like quality and deeper
> depth of flavor.
> I first suspected there was a difference in free range eggs
> and factory farm (battery? I don't know the term) eggs four
> years ago. I was supplementing the feed for 80 1-3 month old
> rhea chicks with cooked unfertilized rhea eggs. It is a
> traditional practice to supplement infant rheas with cooked
> egg. Since it was the end of the season I ran out of rhea
> eggs and substituted grocery store chicken eggs. Within 14
> days I had to destroy over half of the chicks because of leg
> rotations. No one had noticed a connection between the egg
> supplementation and leg rotations, but the egg typically fed
> was chicken egg. I realize the poultry industry blames leg
> rotations on several variables, but this didn't seem to hold
> up in this instance since the only change was the egg.
> The following year we suggested all the rhea growers use the
> infertile eggs for the rhea chicks. Since the market was
> depressed it was an economic advantage and is now common
> practice, although at the last convention most admitted they
> were serving the eggs raw which was never my intention.
> Although this was hardly a scientific study, the rhea growers
> no longer have to contend with the leg rotation problem as
> long as they supplement with the rhea egg. Substrate appears
> to be irrelevant. Admittedly there may be nutritional
> differences between rhea eggs and chicken eggs, but
> production method is surely a major difference.
> How can one predict that health will suffer? Battery birds
> do not forage, nor, if I believe what the pastured poultry
> people say, will they. A true free-range situation should be
> an immune booster, providing a varied high quality protein
> and fresh vegetable diet, exercise, and ample sunshine. This
> is where research is vital-are we trading production
> efficiency for decreased nutrition and quality? My intuition
> says yes. The access to fresh, green food and sunshine is an
> elementary prescription for health, why are chickens
> different? Is it possible the increased health problems
> assumption is made from the barren chicken yards of yesteryear?
> So many assumptions are masquerading as science and one of
> these is that cheap food is just as nutritious as expensive
> food. As farmers in Illinois have realized, growing cheap
> food does not pay the bills, nor does it sell to consumers
> who are accustomed to paying higher food bills. Consumers in
> other countries pay a much higher percentage of income for
> food and they are more particular about the food they
> eat-witness the GMO debate in Europe.
> For years I listened to Conventional Wisdom that we had to
> sanitize to control disease and more is better. Cleanliness
> is critical, but the disinfectants were killing and deforming
> the rhea chicks and the bacteria, when found, were secondary.
> No one questioned this practice, it was taken as an
> assumption from other animal industries.
> I work with people with autoimmune disorders of varying
> degrees of chemical sensitivities. The sicker they are, the
> more they respond to nutritional changes in their diet. Many
> fibromyalgia patients are sensitive to antibiotics and beef.
> The recommendation is to change to organic or free-range
> meats and organic and cold-pressed oils since toxins
> accumulate in fat. The assumption is that all food is equal,
> but it doesn't appear to be to these people. I developed a
> healthy respect for the value of sustainable methods and
> organic food from my work with these people.
> These alternatives can co-exist with the factory farms
> because some consumers want to know how their food was grown,
> who grew it and are willing to pay the price to get it.
> These consumers are willing to pay to allow those of us to
> continue to develop methods to be better land stewards.
> Sustainable agriculture has a place and needs the support of
> Conventional Wisdom, not the immediate dismissal by the
> standard paradigm.
> Donna Fezler
> Jacksonville, IL
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