I was roaming around my favorite farming websites last night, when I came across this quote from the always fabulous Homegrown Evolution folks:
An AP reporter just called to ask for my comment on the recent egg recall. He asked if I thought more people would start backyard chicken flocks. I said yes, adding that I believed that a “distributed” form of agriculture, i.e. many more people keeping small numbers of animals rather than small numbers of professionals in charge of tens of thousands of birds, would lead to greater food safety. Backyard flocks can get infected with salmonella. But if my birds get infected only two people get sick rather than 2,000. I can also keep a better eye on my flock’s health and rodent issues than can a minimum wage employee in charge of 10,000 hens. A small farmer has the same advantages–literally fewer eggs in one basket.
I love this one, too:
a chicken is a bird and . . . birds in nature have access to dirt, bugs, sunlight and vegetation. To keep them in battery cages under artificial light is a kind of arrogance, an assumption that we humans know exactly what a chicken needs, that we have a “wisdom of our own.” Admittedly, a chicken is domesticated animal, but that doesn’t give us the right to make the kinds of sudden, radical changes in animal husbandry that have been made in the past hundred years
I’m such a wuss that I feel bad about keeping my five chickens in their ample run instead of letting them out all day to destroy my plants and dig ankle-twisting holes in which to bathe themselves with dust. So when I think of the stress millions of chickens live in. . . Well, let’s just say I eat less chicken now, and when I do, I try and know as much as possible the conditions under which it was raised.
Lest I sound too proud of myself
let me admit that I reread a section of The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Embry this morning, and realized I could be making our chickens sick by not cleaning their feeder and waterer often enough, and by constantly putting new feed on top of old uneaten feed (which she quite clearly states you should NEVER do).
There’s always more to learn. That’s what I know.