Raising poultry: the organic way
Chicken meat is the most popular animal protein eaten on our planet. But despite its popularity, we can ask ourselves is eating chicken healthy?
With a high demand for cheap meat, industrial farms and fast growing breeds have been created.
These farms have one main goal: to produce chicken as fast as possible and make a high profit margin.
To become profitable, they have crowded a large number of birds in a single space with no natural lighting, no access to outdoors, and no environment for them to express their natural behaviours.
They provide concentrate feed, growth enhancers and antibiotics that make them grow faster and prevent losses due to disease.
Without fresh air, the farm is highly polluted with ammonia from the chicken droppings, damaging their eyes and respiratory system. This suppresses chickens’ immune systems in turn increasing the risk of disease and makes the use of antibiotics necessary.
How does this concern us? Well – we are what we eat, and what the chicken eats too. When antibiotics and growth enhancers regularly enter into our bodies, our health is compromised, impacting our own overall immune function.
So what is the solution? Allowing chicken to be chicken! Able to act naturally, like flapping their wings, scratching, stretching, freely walking, jumping, running, and any form of exercise are so important to healthy chicken.
Chicken need space, so there should be no more than 7 birds in 1 square meter. They also need open, outdoor space, with sunlight and soil. To keep clean they like to take a sand bath!
A stress free environment should allow them to sleep throughout the night in darkness. Hens are birds, and they need to be elevated above ground. It is part of their social system, with birds ranking higher, sleeping higher up! They do not like to sleep on the ground.
They also do not like to lay eggs on the ground. You can provide boxes or secure areas to encourage your hens to lay eggs.
Ensure an constant access to food, such as natural grains and pulse, and fresh food like gras, beetroot, lucerne, and vegetable waste. Food needs to be provided in a clean way, such that droppings cannot fall in, using a hanging bucket.
A small amount of their food such as seeds, grains or lucern should be distributed on the ground. It’s important to encourage them to scratch together because they are social animals.
Put straw in a separated and closed area, irrigate it daily and after 2 weeks let the hens in. There will be many insects and the hens will feed on them. Eating insects is one of the best source proteins for a chicken.
Insects are birds’ favorite food – containing all the nutrients they need, resulting in high quality eggs and meat.
While trying to produce the greatest amount of meat in the shortest amount of time, industrial chicken farmers have placed our health at risk. When we save money buying cheaper meat, we will end up paying a price for this.
We can greatly reduce our health risks by eating chicken from farmers that are well kept, fed and treated. Think about what you eat, and how often, do your own research and make the right decision as a consumer or as a farmer.
Let’s invest in our health, and move towards an organic poultry farming system, where growers care for their chickens, and their clients!