here's a nice writeup with some pictures of an operation that is certified as an organic, free-range egg producer. Take a look at it and tell me what you think. You'll find that link here.
Update: The page that I referred to with a writeup of an organic layer house, was removed by the author. I've removed the link here in respect,, but I'll relate my opinion of what the writeup said:
the pictures were of a layer house; a few hundred feet long, crammed with birds. Nothing unusual there; the difference was that this was a "free range organic layer house" -- certified so.
the barns had 2" of bedding, and on top of that was 4" of chicken manure. the ammonia smell was quite strong -- the ventilation was turned off because it was cold outside, to keep the buildings warmer. The ammonia was enough to make the authors eyes water.
In the walls of this building were cut openings, and each opening was covered with a piece of plastic. That was done to satisfy the "daylight" requirements of the certifications. I can't say how many of these holes were cut, but I think that one every 20 or 30 feet would be what I recall from the pictures. The openings were about 2' square.
Into one side wall of the building were cut small doors, about 12" square. These were to provide "outside access and access to vegetation", but the author related that no sign could be seen of any chickens actually using these doors. If your flock and food are inside the safe building, why venture out?
And finally the author noted that the organic free-range certification allowed the confinement of the birds for "health" and other reasons, but noted that these birds had either never gotten out at all, or had done so in a way that left no trace of their presence outside.
Opinion: Chickens devour grass; and for that number of chickens in a fixed building, if they were really going outside, I'd expect to see bare dirt. there was a planted lawn that didn't appear to be disturbed in the pictures.
The author related that this was a barn that they were allowed to see, and that there were signs of cleanup. The implication being that the other "free range organic layer" buildings were worse.
I'm sorry he took the post down. Transparency is important, and if a certification organization is certifying stuff that they're embarrassed about, shame on them!
4 days ago