Friday, April 4, 2008

The Happy Chicken?.

Another evolution for me is really knowing where my food was raised, and what the farmer's philosophies are about how they raise the food. I recently inquired about some eggs that I purchase. The carton screams of labels saying 'cage free', happy chickens etc. So I wanted to really find out what made those statements true. Further in this blog is my letter to that establishment - I wonder if I will get a response.

Upon some research, I learned that "chickens are perhaps the least protected of farm animals. All farm animals are exempt from the federal Animal Welfare Act, but unlike other types of livestock, chickens are also exempt from individual state laws prohibiting cruelty to animals and from the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act." . This article continues to define those different terms we see:
  • "Organic certified," explains Shapiro, means hens had plenty of access to the outdoors, they ate organic feed, and they were not injected with antibiotics.

  • "Free range" means the chickens were allowed to roam outdoors.

  • But "cage free" doesn't necessarily mean much in terms of quality of life for hens. Eggs labeled "cage free" often come from hens packed side by side in massive sheds, Shapiro says. Their access to the outdoors may be only through a tiny opening.
So I wonder if I will ever find out my chickens and their eggs are happy?! I guess the point is, if you want to know more about the food you eat, ASK QUESTIONS. You might be surprised about what you find out.
*************My letter**********************
Dear abc Farmer,
I really do appreciate you writing to answer my questions. Overall I just like knowing as much as I can about the food that I feed my family, that is why I asked your name to be passed onto me. So I purchase the cage-free eggs from you -- and from the packaging it seems that there is allot of writing proclaiming how wonderful they are. My question is, I know that the rules are 'flexible' and when people say 'cage free' eggs, that may mean there are no cages, but they may be squished into a room with no room to move. So I am curious as to what you mean when you say 'cage free'. I also wanted to know your philosophy on raising the chickens, on using antibiotics (and I know this is not a bad thing to use them, just wondering about your philosophy on using them), and on the types of food you provide. Are your chickens allowed to go outside and forage for food? It may be cliche to say that I like my food to have a 'happy' or at least a normal animal life. I just think that in this lifetime we all are due the liberty of living our lives as they were meant to be. I don't think food should be industry run or controlled- that is when basic respect of life seems to be forgotten.

Now with all of that said -- your philosophy may be different and that is fine. If you are concerned more with quantity than quality I respect you for that, I just do not want to support that kind of practice. So I really appreciate your honest answers.

One more thing, you sell both cage free and caged eggs? So on your property you have some areas with chickens locked into cages, and some are not? Hard to envision having the same animal in two different environments like that.

Again, please be honest and I really appreciate your time!

have a LOVELY day.
(If you want to know their response, send me an email to


valereee said...

And 'free-range' doesn't necessarily mean the chickens ever DID go outdoors. It can mean as little as "once they were a certain age, we opened a chicken-size door at one end of the building and left it open." In these situations, very few of the birds will venture outside. What you want is pastured chicken -- chicken that from a very early age is outside all day scratching and eating bugs and only goes back into the henhouse at night.

Open said...
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