Monday, November 22, 2010

"free range organic layer house".

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!


Anonymous said...

the link goes to: page not found

Ruth said...

He took the page off...(read it earlier then tried to re-access)..Nonetheless. Grotesque. hmm. "Certified Organic" = Oxymoronic?..Another reason to know your producer.

Dean Smith said...

This is pretty sad to see and gives emphasis to the idea that one should see what they eat. unfortunately, the vast majority of the population has no way to do that and those we trust to check for us are too corrupt.

StefRobrts said...

Gosh, I clicked on that hoping it would be a realistically free-range, organic layer house, to get an idea for what I am planning to do this summer. How disappointing. I'll be sure and pass this along to my friends who think they are supporting humane agriculture by buying organic free-range eggs from the supermarket.

What I am planning is more like that Canadian farm you posted a link to a couple weeks ago. Small chicken houses, not too crowded, lots of fresh air and moved to fresh pasture every day.

I know I can't make eggs as cheap as the factories, but people need to realize it costs more to produce food humanely than we are used to paying at the store.

Anonymous said...

Link is dead, the page is missing and their blog says they read your blog. So what did we miss? If you add the feed to Google Reader the original article shows up.

Anonymous said...

The post was pulled before I could read it, darn!

Anonymous said...

The whole organic certification process in my opinion is total crock.With what you desribed, it sounds like someone's getting their palms greased.
Go Animal Welfare Approved, the program is more concerned with how animals are raised, housed and transported than if you are organic or not.

E said...

You could report them or ask their certifying body for an explanation. It could be a case of poor standards, but it could also be a case of mismanagement.

Mike said...

If only everyone could see what a "certification" really means.