Sunday, March 31, 2013

Free Range Fractures

March 2013
Skeletal health in laying hens is a major welfare and economic problem with up to 80% of hens suffering bone breakages in some free range systems. A new three-year study hopes to reduce the fracture rates in laying hens thanks to a grant of £532,000 funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and supported by industrial partner, Noble Foods.
With the 2012 EU ban on battery cage systems, as many as 30 million hens will be housed in alternative systems, mostly free range. This means a possible 24 million hens suffering bone breakage each year in the UK, which the industry and government view as unsustainable.

Sparky's editorial reaction:  80% of the free range hens have broken bones - from collisons with other  birds?? What?? And this research is to figure out what to do to solve the problem?? I was very nearly compelled to pull up my user name for World Poultry (barndirtisaeuphemismforshit) and leave some snarky comment about how warped it is to need a study to prompt common sense. BUT, then I realized that this kind of study is absolutely necessary because the established poultry industry is amazingly removed from the reality of chickens. They're still trying to figure out an entirely new business model. So be it if it takes some absurd study to come to grips with what the rest of us already range is completely different from battery cages.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Milk Jug Saga

For complicated and situationally irrelevant reasons I have LOTS of plastic water jugs at my disposal.  These came in handy last winter when the water lines froze.  I would fill 10 jugs with hot water and haul them out to the barnyard to thaw out waterers.  Thank heavens that only went on for a week....  (It was a long week though.)

But then, it happened.  It started snowing and by nightfall we had several inches.  By morning we had over a foot and it just kept coming down, a cold and windy white out, all through the day and into the next night.  Schools closed, stores closed, roads closed, even the state closed.

Everyone in town was stuck in town; everyone in the country was stuck in the country. By then the birds had been cooped up for nearly 36 hours.  There was no way around it;  I had to dig out the coops and get everyone fed and watered. That's about BeakHouse coops & SparkyCrows houses spread across about 2 acres.