The Importance of Pastured or Free Range vs Factory Chicken
The factory farming industry strives to maximize output while minimizing costs, but the expense is not only to the health and welfare of the animals, but also ours and the environment. The giant corporations that run most factory farms have found that they can make more money by cramming animals into tiny spaces, even though many of the animals get sick and some die, creating antibiotic resistant bacteria and other sicknesses passed directly along to us.
Effects on Human Health
“Does it really matter how the chicken was treated before they kill it?” Besides supporting animal cruelty, if you are at all concerned about your health, it absolutely matters.
That is because with Conventional Chicken you are eating:
- Hormones (which some say in addition to the BPA is the reasons for early onset puberty in children amongst many other problems). The Journal of Animal Science and University of Milan’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine recently confirmed that fear experienced during slaughter significantly elevates meat’s levels of stress hormones—adrenaline, cortisol, and other steroids. Fear in animals during slaughter can causes reduction of vitality and sexual potency in humans who eat the meat. Click here to learn more – www.scn.org/~bk269/fear.html
- Antibiotics (which cause super bacteria, resistant to antibiotics as well as kill your important gut flora after eating the chicken).
- Low quality conventional chicken feed (containing pesticides, herbicides and fungicides with little or no nutritional value).
- Ammonia and bad bacteria from the environment they are raised in.
- See more and cases of illness, disease and human death from these types of meat below in this blog.
Most people have heard of the cruel and brutal conditions in which conventional animals are raised. To summarize the nearly 9 billion broiler chickens a year sent to slaughter live under complete abnormal conditions in warehouse sheds confined often with 20,000 other chickens so tightly they can’t spread their wings. Chicken excrement accumulates on the floors, causes mass bacteria and the air to become polluted with ammonia, dust, and fungal spores, causing painful skin conditions, respiratory problems, pulmonary congestion, swelling, hemorrhage, and blindness. Ammonia also destroys the cilia in the chickens responsible for preventing other bacteria from being inhaled. During winter, when the ventilators are closed to conserve heat, ammonia levels may reach 200 parts per million; healthy ammonia levels should never surpass 20 parts per million. Keep in mind the expression, you are what you eat.
During slaughter of the typical 1,500 birds killed per hour, multiple injuries from dislocated hips and broken wings to internal hemorrhaging, cold to the point of hypothermia in some cases, no food and water, swelling of skin and sometimes even gangrene. The chickens’ throats are slit on a circular blade before being placed in a scalding tank meant to loosen feathers, but if they are not properly stunned, they often miss the blade, resulting in the birds being boiled alive and conscious.
Why are these animal abuses happening?
Simple answer is profits, but more specifically because people continue to purchase chicken and eggs from farms that operate this way. This can be avoided by voting with the money you spend on chicken. That means buying local when available, but always buying organic, pastured, free-range or at least cage-free chicken (or grass-fed, pastured and organic for any red meat). You can be sure that unless the eggs, milk, meat, or poultry is marked one of these terms, it is from a factory farm since more than 90% of animal products sold in the US are.
What else can you do?
- Shop at your local farmers market. – To find a local farmer’s market near you, check out http://www.localharvest.org/ OR www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/farmersmarkets
- Truthaboutchicken.org – click here to request local and humanely raised chicken at your local store.
- If you don’t have a local source, you can get grass fed beef and other organic meat by clicking Here:US Wellness Meats sells quality grassland meat products – Visit us Online!
- More links and solutions below
Understanding the terms:
Pastured – True free-range poultry and eggs come from chickens (hens) that roam freely outdoors on a pasture, where they can forage for their natural diet, which includes seeds, green plants, insects, and worms. Keep in mind that when it comes to labels such as “cage-free”, “free-range”, and “natural” there are loopholes that allow companies to use these labels, when they are far being raised free range.
Which ones should you buy?
Organic and Pastured is the answer. But I will say, when not buying from a local farmers market, I will only get free-range and organic chicken meat and eggs. If I can only get them in a supermarket I check the farm online or call to see their conditions in which they raise the hens.
Organic – In Canada and the U.S., eggs labeled Organic mean hens’ who were fed organic feed and didn’t receive any type of antibiotic or vaccine. Also, organic eggs come from chickens never fed genetically engineered products. They also are supposed to be provided with nest boxes and given access to outdoors (weather-permitting). In Canada, the standards also stipulate minimum space requirements and that perches and dust bathing materials must be provided.
Free Range, according to the FDA, simply means the chickens have access to the outside. It doesn’t mean they were raised outdoors. Yes, they have access to the outdoors, but how often they actually make it out there, is anybody’s guess. Smaller farms may make it easier for the chickens to roam around in the fresh air, but unless you check with the farm individually, you don’t really know.
Cage Free – They are not raised in a cage but likely indoors all of the time. Their feed may be filled with ground up chicken and animal parts if the label also does not say “vegetarian diet.” Remember, if it doesn’t say it, it’s not there.
“Certified Humane” – No cage, indoors, but much lower bird density and certified by certifiedhumane.org
Conventionally grown eggs and chicken meat came from chickens most likely in tight cages, with little room to move. They may have been fed feed made with genetically modified crops, and may have received antibiotics or other types of vaccines.
Damage to the Environment:
Chicken waste – 500 million tons of manure are produced each year, which is more than three times the sewage produced by the entire U.S. human population. Factory farm waste is stored in manure pits or lagoons, and ultimately it is applied to farm fields as fertilizer. As the Wisconsin State Journal noted, they produce so much waste in one place that it must be applied to land in quantities that exceed the soil’s ability to incorporate it. The vast quantities of manure can – and do – make their way into the local environment where they pollute the air and water (streams and ground water). Manure contains nitrogen, phosphorus and often bacteria that can endanger the environment and human health.
Residential drinking wells can be contaminated with dangerous bacteria that can sicken neighbors and the runoff can damage the ecological balance of streams and rivers. In some cases, manure spills that reach waterways can kill aquatic life.
Noxious gas emissions from manure holding tanks and lagoons, including hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and methane, can cause skin rashes, breathing problems and headaches, and long-term exposure can lead to neurological problems.
The facilities are over-crowded and stressful to animals, making it easy for disease to spread. When thousands of animals are packed into feedlots full of manure, bacteria can get into the slaughterhouses. Contamination on even one animal can contaminate thousands of pounds of meat inside a slaughterhouse. In 2010, the crowded, unsanitary conditions at two Iowa egg companies caused a recall of more than half a billion potentially Salmonella-tainted eggs.
Results to Our Health:
Here is more Human Health Risks associated with factory farmed chicken
- – Chicken caused more foodborne illness outbreaks, hospitalizations and deaths between 1998 and 2010 than any other meat in the American food supply, according to Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Risky Meat report.
- According to a landmark “Antibiotic Resistance Threat Report” published by the CDC,2 two million Americans become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, and at least 23,000 of them die as a direct result of those infections.
- A 2010 Consumer Reports analysis of fresh, whole chicken purchased from more than 100 supermarkets in 22 states found that two-thirds of the samples contained salmonella and/or campylobacter, the leading bacterial causes of foodborne disease. Over 60% of the bacteria found were resistant to at least one antibiotic.
- Research suggests you have a 50/50 chance of buying meat tainted with drug-resistant bacteria when you buy it from your local grocery store.
- In 2013, researchers at the University of Georgia looked at the prevalence of salmonella and campylobacter at large chicken farms and found that high levels of these bacteria on the farm corresponded to high levels on carcasses at the plant where chickens from that farm are processed for slaughter. “This study suggests that reducing foodborne pathogen loads on broiler chicken farms would help to reduce pathogen loads at processing, and may ultimately help to reduce the risk of foodborne illness,” said Roy Berghaus, an author of the study, in a press release.
- Chickens’ fast and debilitating growth rates have been reported to weaken their immune systems and increase the time they spend lying down in their own feces, causing sores and open wounds that can get infected. Lowered immunity, high rates of contact sores, along with cramped, unclean conditions, can all potentially contribute to high rates of foodborne illnesses related to chicken.
- The common industry practice of feeding chickens constant, low levels of antibiotics to prevent the spread of disease in crowded sheds poses a risk to human health by creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
- Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Find one her – www.localharvest.org/search.jsp?&ty=6
- www.eatwellguide.org/i.php?pd=Home The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
- Support restaurants and food vendors that buy locally organic produced food.
- Get involved in your community. Influence what your child eats by engaging the school board.
- Spread the word! Share this article with your friends, family, and everyone else you know.