Thursday, July 31, 2008

For those of you in the know...

Hello my fellow chicken chums, I have a question that some of you in the know might be able to help me with. My aunt is now in possession of 20 week-old chicks and she wants to have the males caponized. I know this is an easy procedure to have done at a big hatchery facility, but is there any place I can take the birds to have them altered other than the local dog and cat vet? Where do backyard farmers take their birds to get fixed? Thanks for the help folks, see you on the flop side.

Friday, June 20, 2008

it may just be me ...

... but, according to Comstock, at 5:54pm 6/20/2008, stock from BOTH pilgrims.pride and tyson.foods were being valued at $14.88 per share.

how the mighty have fallen...
(of course, last quarter tyson announced a $0.04/share dividend while pilgrims was stuck at $0.02)

just my opinion, but ... think yum.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Walk this Way

Being ever conscious of exciting new poultry welfare practices, I was immediately drawn to an article I found addressing the unfortunate leg problems afflicting commercially produced broilers. With broilers growing heavier and faster than ever before, it’s becoming increasingly common to find birds in a grow out facility affected by locomotion problems. Their legs just can’t handle the rapid bulk accumulation. So what’s a grower to do? According to the article Testing Gait Scoring System from (, producers are beginning to test a new scoring system to asses the number of birds with leg issues. This new scoring system will hopefully make some changes in the welfare management procedures of bird growers by setting certain production benchmarks and hopefully up the birds’ overall health and comfort. Looking beyond the general welfare of the animal, it is bad business to have birds that can’t even walk to the feeders due to their immobility. The Gait Scoring System is used to test a large number of birds’ ability to walk without any sort of invasive procedure. The scoring system is broken down into three categories with scores from 0-2, 2 being the most severe cases of immobility. The bonus of this new system is that is a lot easier to facilitate than the older system of bird gait scoring. This makes it more desirable to actually implement into a production facility’s management practices. As a consumer interested in the welfare of the animals that we eat, it is reassuring to know that the problem of immobile birds is being addressed. Hopefully, with all of this new information regarding prevalent leg issues, we are at least headed in the right direction for managerial advancements to prevent them.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Truth in Advertising?

On April 21, a federal judge barred Tyson foods from advertising that their poultry products do not contain antibiotics that lead to drug resistance in humans. The ruling was a victory for rivals Sanderson Farms and Perdue Farms. The "beef" Perdue and Sanderson have is that they, and the poultry industry as a whole do not use antibiotics in their feed rations. They believe that Tyson's advertising campaign was misleading the public, that companies other than Tyson were using antibiotics in their rations. The labeling was initially approved by the USDA, then their decision later retracted, after tyson had already spent money on advertising. it was eventually ruled that they could say "raised without antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans."

Sanderson claims to have lost $4 million in revenue due to Tyson's advertising campaign and Purdue claims $10 million. The main argument of these companies is that Tyson has created a false connection between commercially raised poultry and antibiotics.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Future of chickens placed in voters hands?

During election day in November, California voters will decide if they feel small hen cages should be "outlawed" in the state until a re-vote in 2015., this website paints the picture for the views and thoughts of California voters. It is a shame the amount of "pull" the Humane Society has in the state. The opposers of the decision feels as if the decision will force the egg and poultry industry out of the state for good. The "cage free" labeled items in the grocery stores are already listed for higher prices. In addition, these hens are also more prone to diseases and are more likely to injure themselves. Thankfully, the legislator decided not to take a stab at meat produced chickens because they are in a "larger area" to roam and thus this makes it a more friendly environment. I find it scary how one organization like the Humane Society can be a deciding factor of legislation for animals. With their far fetched ads for cruelty to animals and how bad conventional farmers treat their animals is just another way they fuel the emotions of the American Society in their favor and now the issues are moving to the government for them to decide.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

on organic foods

we've been talking about all sorts of price increases in class (from corn to chicken to eggs). however, here is a timely article regarding the effect of prices on organic food production (i added the links for you!).

Sticker Shock in the Organic Aisles - New York Times
... In some parts of the country, a loaf of organic bread can cost $4.50, a
pound of pasta has hit $3, and organic milk is closing in on $7 a

... Over all, grocery prices have increased about 5 percent over the last
year, though some staples like conventional eggs jumped 30 percent and
milk, 13 percent, according to the Consumer Price Index. That
government index does not break out prices for organic food.

... The average retail price for Eggland’s Best Organic eggs in 2007 ranged
from $3.79 to $4.29, company officials said. So far this year, the
range has risen to $4.59 to $4.99.

... Organic food is typically 20 percent to 100 percent more expensive than
a conventional counterpart; the gap has narrowed in recent years as
discount retailers like Wal-Mart have offered organics and more private-label organic products have become available, according to the industry.

... Americans spent $16.7 billion on organic food and beverages in 2006, a
126 percent increase in just five years, according to the Organic Trade
, an industry trade group. Organic sales account for about
2.8 percent of food and beverage sales in the United States.

...“In the last three months or four months, everyone along the chain
in organic food is not making their margins,” said Bob Eberly,
president of Eberly Poultry in Stevens, Pa. The cost of raising poultry
has increased 16 percent in the last six months, but he said his prices
had increased only 7 percent.

“In the next month or so, our customers are going to see a significant price increase,” he said. “We just have to do it.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Egg Prices Doubled from Soaring Feed

Recent stats show that US egg prices have doubled since 2002 to $2.17 per dozen of grade A large. What has caused this increase? Feed prices of course! Along with other agricultural products like dairy, egg prices are seeing a boon due to high feed costs and high transportation costs from rising fuel prices. A mill owner said a truck load of grain cost him $8,000 this week, as opposed to the $3,500 a few years ago. Despite the increased cost for a dozen eggs, it is still a bargain when compared to buying meat of an equal weight.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Keeping Birds Cool in Hot Weather

Since summer is approaching, I looked up an article focusing on keeping birds cool in hot weather. The link to this site is The article talks about summertime management and how it is crucial for growers to achieve maximum weight gains and optimum feed conversion while preventing bird loss due to heat exhaustion. The summary decribes some steps that can be taken during hot weather ventilation. It also provides graphs diplaying different lengths of air flow and how important ditirbution is. There are four main topics covered air speed distribution, bird distribution, nighttime cooling and equiptment and house maintenance. One fact that was stated relating to nighttime cooling is that even though the temperature may drop and the chickens aren't panting does not mean they're not hot. Not providing fans at night to save money on electric may hurt you in the long run with production decrease and even mortality. Overall, this article focuses on management routines that are some times taken for granted and simple procedures we should not over look.

Monday, March 31, 2008

H5N1 Step in the Right Direction

Does anyone remember a time not so long ago when we were facing our immanent demise from a little virus affectionately called “Bird Flu” that was supposed to knock us all on our ear? Well, to be perfectly honest, it wasn’t at the forefront of my list of concerns either. But a recent poultry headline caught my eye and rekindled my interested with the infamous H5N1. Now who amongst you isn’t interested in possible death by bird virus? Remarkably, the rest of the world hasn’t forgotten about our recent “brush with death” and has been working behind the scenes to unravel the mysteries of the virus in attempt to create a viable, marketable vaccine. Migrating Canada Geese, once eliminated au mass to prevent them from carrying the disease from poultry facility to poultry facility can begin to rest easy on their laurels due to news of promising research on H5N1 protein composition. Using this information, researches in the US and Tokyo have discovered simple manipulations of a viral protein that inhibits the replication process of the virus itself. Of course, more tests must be run before anyone runs out and buys the fireworks, but the results are looking promising. To view the whole article and for a more in-depth structural explanation of the protein deletion, see the following site <>. I’m always a fan of new and developing scientific shenanigans on an accusingly benign virus, but with Switzerland now in the scope of Bird Flu’s next assault, a bit of good news on the vaccination front couldn’t come at a better time. To read more on Swiss troubles, see

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Renewing the Poultry Industry in Iraq

While surfing the US Army Vet Corps website I found an interesting poultry article. The article is about the vet corps trying to establish the poulty industry again in Iraq. Now that the country has began to stabilize. The military is looking to stabilize the poultry industry The town of Mahmudiyah is traditionally considered to be the hub of the poultry industry and is located near Baghdad. This close proximity to the most intense fighting of the war has to say the least has stunted the poultry industry. With 40% of the country's eggs being imported there is plenty of room for growth of domestic egg production. The military is trying to band together the local farmers to create a kind of co-op type setup with local farmers. At the same time the military has begin to probe the idea of doing the same thing with the broiler industry of Iraq. And is in the beginning stages of setting that up

Monday, March 24, 2008

Some Interesting Facts from a U.S. meat exporter

As i searched around finding poultry headlines i stumbled onto a company known as SJS USA,INC that exports food to market such as Russia, CIS, and Baltic Sea. This company is based out of California. What grabbed my attention was searching through their website and looking under the American industry of meat and poultry tab. When searching there you can find statistics such as 17% of the labor powers in the U.S. relate to agriculture, or every six place of work relates to agriculture in some sort of way. Bi products and foodstuffs from an average sized farm can feed around 128 people in the world. The company then begins to explore how important poultry is in its market and how many shelled eggs (around 77 billion) are enjoyed each year. Along with the nutritional information given, the company also goes into the way the birds are raised and which areas of the U.S. are prevalent in poultry production. This company makes sure they cover all of their basis when talking about egg production and how well the chickens are maintained not only with their company but for the entire U.S. I was happy to see that this website was one of the first poultry sites i found when searching Google. There are many adds and animal rights groups that want to criticize agriculture in general, but this company goes in depth and sheds light on the entire industry and should be commended for doing so.

Mother Nature's Egg Blooper

When searching the web for national poultry news I came across a strange article from this website, On this page I found a short story on a rare egg that is first of its kind. An egg was hatched without the shell and was only held together by the shell membrane. Strange enough not only was the egg missing the shell, but it was also seperated into two different compartments. The shell membrane was holding the yolk in one compartment and the egg white (albumin) in another compartment. If this kind of event could occur again or could be reproduced, companies that produced egg seperators would be possibly go out of business. Also, resturants would increase their demand for this type of egg. The website for this specific rare egg article is also found on the previous website, is It provides pictures and a Utube video showing this strange eggs existance.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

more on pilgrim's pride plant closings

Pilgrim's Pride to close Plant City facility - Tampa Bay Business Journal:
Chicken processor Pilgrim's Pride Corp. plans to lay off 84 employees at its Plant City distribution center, starting in May. The employees are involved in transportation and warehousing for Pilgrim's Pride (NYSE: PPC), which filed an official layoff notice with the state. The Plant City distribution center is one of six centers the company has decided to close around the country to curtail losses because of feed cost increases, according to a release. Pilgrim's Pride, which is based in Pittsburg, Texas, stated the closings also are a result of an oversupply of chicken in the United States.

Pilgrim's Pride to cut jobs nationwide, but Waco plant's specialty may save local jobs
Poultry giant Pilgrim’s Pride, which has a processing plant in Waco, has announced it is cutting more than 1,100 jobs and will close a processing plant and six of its 13 distribution centers as it struggles to cope with rising grain prices.

The company, based in Pittsburg, Texas, confirmed it will close the processing plant in Siler City, N.C., which employs about 830 people.

Spokesman Ray Atkinson said the cuts may not stop there. The company continues to look at other processing facilities “for potential (product) mix changes, closure and/or consolidation.”

Pilgrim’s Pride has a total of 37 processing plants, 34 in the United States and three in Mexico. It also has 12 prepared-foods facilities.

The Waco plant on East Lake Shore Drive employs 700. Atkinson said he could not comment on the future of that plant or any other while Pilgrim’s Pride continues its assessment.

Truth About Trade & Technology - Pilgrim's Pride Plans Closings
In what it is calling an industrywide "crisis," the Pittsburg, Texas, company, whose 2007 revenue was $7.6 billion, says its cost for feed is expected to be more than $1.3 billion higher than two years ago.

The increase in feed costs is due largely to rising prices for the two main feed ingredients, corn and soybeans, which have more than doubled during the past year as demand for grain world-wide rises and as more grain is used to produce biofuels.

Pilgrim's Pride plans to close one of its 37 chicken-processing plants, along with six of its 13 U.S. distribution centers.

While many farmers are enjoying the high grain prices, purchasers and users of grain, like meat processor Smithfield Foods Inc. and packaged-foods company Kellogg Co., are trimming production and seeking cheaper ingredients. Pilgrim's Pride has increased prices it charges customers, although it wouldn't say by how much.

The retail price for broiler products is about $1.69 a pound, up about 10% from last year, according to figures from the U.S. Agriculture Department. Consumers are also starting to feel the pinch of higher prices at the grocery store.

Air-chilled chicken: Is it better than water chilled?

We may soon be seeing new labels on chicken at the grocery store telling us it is "air-chilled". This air-chilling process is new to the U.S., but is common in Europe and has been around for almost 50 years. There have been claims that chicken chilled by air tastes better than the traditional water-chilled birds. Some American food retailers, like Whole Foods in California, have already started to convert its chicken to air-chilled. Will this be the new rave in the world of poultry processing? Only time will tell.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Lets Not Forget of the Realities Overseas

The existence of the bird flu is only feared in America. However, it is a reality overseas. Observed in ‘The News: International’ the government’s involvement of this real issue in Karachi a providence of Pakistan is growing. Government officials are stepping up to control avian flu types, and have pinpointed several causes of it. With 3,500 poultry farms in the area multi step plans are being formed which include sixteen “master trainers” whom monitor poultry farms. These new plans should reduce further infestations of bird flu’s. Here in American we are only faced with the issue of prevention, more than reduction, however reduction in oversea countries is a form of prevention for the US, and these plans should enter the worldwide agenda to cope with the growing concern of the bird flu.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Birds of a Different Feather Favored

Our buddies across the pond are really sinking their teeth into the idea of free range poultry. According to several different animal welfare groups, there seems to be a big trend in the consumption of free range birds as opposed to those that are factory farmed. Apparently, this sudden switch was instigated by a few exposés done of European chicken production. It has become a question of ethics that is driving those who think about food as having once been a living breathing thing rather than simply its delectable breaded and fried final form. According to the article (see below), this type of conscious decision to buy free range isn’t a new idea, but the media coverage has helped get it a leg up and a higher market value. With the recent beef fiasco, people may start becoming more conscious about where their steak and egg breakfast comes from. What sort of implications will this have on organic and free range producers in the States? It begs the question of long term economic stability. There will always be a place in the market for Happy Chicken eaters regardless of how much control the big producers have, but are we seeing the beginning of the fence line of the Feathered Free Rangers beginning to grow?


A New Level of Feather Sexing

One of the most time consuming and expensive parts of the poultry production process is undoubtedly sexing of chicks. Accuracy is critical, so that the correct sex of bird is placed. Scientists in Germany are developing a test that will eliminate the old standby methods of vent and traditional feather sexing. These methods can be stressful on the birds, the new test would be minimally stressful to the birds. The Scientists propose to use tissue pulp from a birds feather in a lab apparatus to instantly and with minimal stress determine with 95% accuracy the gender of the bird. If this test works out and can be made cheap enough so that industry can utilize it, it could change the poultry industry.

"Raising Chickens....its "health" benefits

Plenty Magazine explored the ways in which keeping hens as a barnyard turned into backyard pet that is very helpful to your garden area as well as your health. Hens are easy enough for anyone to keep as all they need is a sheltered area that is cleaned and has a nice area where the hen can lay her egg because as we all know, hens will not lay eggs until they are content with their environment. The hen needs about 100-150 grams a day of feed in order to stay healthy and even adding cider vinegar to their water will help with the molting process.

In another article I found, that encourages free-range chickens mind you, there is a listing of the health benefits that come from free-range chicken eggs. These chickens who supposively lived in "rotational" cages in some 14 flocks throuoght the country. This company decided to conduct their own research for this assignment. Thus not a reliable resource.

In search of an article in disagreement with "sustainable" agricultural savings i was overwhelmed with hundreds of "organic raised is the way" websites but finally stumbled upon a website based out of London that finds different results than the studies listed above. This site lists organic chickens as "less nutritious, containing more fat and a horrible taste". And tests show they are actually lower in the healthy omega-3 fatty acid and are also lower in antioxidants.

Until true, non-biased research is done by a government sanctioned program, there will be much debate over which "form" of raising chickens is the healthiest and best for humans. Until then, sort through all of the nonsense litature about organic chickens and enjoy your conventional farming chicken on your plate tonight!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fat to fuel

An upwards population of 8 billion birds are processed annually. According to University of Georgia Researcher’s, waste chicken fat can be processed into effective fuel. In larger operations the amount of waste created during processing can displace the cost of $9 millions of fuel a year. Running much like diesel or termed Biodiesel, internal fuel costs may be reduced by harvesting the energy from these fats and burning them. (Research)

The idea of making fuels from animal fat has been in the works for years now. As a substance much like corn oil after processing, this fuel runs much like its diesel and biodiesel counterparts. Its goal is to cut poultry processing costs and have a cheap simple way to utilize their waste products. With about 9 billion gallons of oil produced in the state of Georgia in one year, this market could have a reasonable impact on the oil market nationwide.

In addition to the processing of poultry fats, oils, and feathers, bedding and litter have become a possible source of energy too. Turkey Litter is running a $200 million dollars power plant in the Midwest. The poultry industry is attempting to utilize their waste products and turn them into something useful: FUEL.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Recall on Chicken Products due to undeclared Allergen


This article of the WASHINGTON was last month Jan 26, 2008. There was a recall for 24,710 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast, because it contained an Italian seasoning that included milk, a known allergen. The ingredient was not declared on the label which caused Purdue Farms, Inc to recall specific allergen poultry products.

The chicken products were produced on Jan.19, 2008, and were distributed to retail establishments in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The problem was discovered by the company. FSIS did not have any cases of illness from this recall, but if there had been health concerns for a allergic reaction they were to contact a physician.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

New human avian flu vaccine

A promising new avain flu ( vaccine has just been tested at the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Vaccine Research (

The tests were performed on mice, who showed an immune response to the H5N1 virus and were actually protected from death after being infected.

seeing how, like human flu viruses, the avian virus can change and evolve, this new vaccine was engineered to encode genes for three flu viral proteins. this will help against possible new strains of the virus.

the vaccine uses virus-like particles that the immune system recognizes as a real virus, but does not have genetic information that would allow it to reproduce. these types of vaccines are easyto develop, produce, and manufacture, which makes them very effective and cost-effective in the event of mass production if an avian flu pandemic was a threat.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

price of chicken

perhaps not surprising anyone, is the recent report by Pilgrim's Pride that increases the price of feed ingredients is causing an increase in the price of chicken, and a decline in the profits of poultry companies. PP estimates that:
... it would take a 10 percent increase in chicken prices to offset higher feed costs, which are likely to keep rising. But the company has had a tough time passing along the higher costs to customers, such as grocery stores and restaurant suppliers.
Certainly, this is happening to most chicken producers. Even Tyson Foods has announced higher prices.

while yesterday's egg market report looks stable over the last week or so ... we were shocked to find the price of 1.5 dozen (that's 18 to the math-challenged) large, grade A eggs to be $1.89 at Weis!

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Monday, January 28, 2008

meat in the USA

an interesting article by mark.bittman of the NYTimes regarding meat-eating habits in the US and the effect that meat production has on health, the economy and environment. there is a lot to discuss here; as everything done in the name of 'industry' or 'profit' is not perfect.

Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler - New York Times
Americans are downing close to 200 pounds of meat, poultry and fish per capita per year (dairy and eggs are separate, and hardly insignificant), an increase of 50 pounds per person from 50 years ago. We each consume something like 110 grams of protein a day, about twice the federal government’s recommended allowance; of that, about 75 grams come from animal protein.l
however, as i read these types of articles, i often try to identify the one with the greatest number of logical fallacies. how many can you find?

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

we've all heard about the price of corn ...

... but, here is another aspect of the increased cost of oil, and the effect of increased demand on 'other' oils (which are used nationally and globally for BOTH kind of calories!).

A New, Global Oil Quandary: Costly Fuel Means Costly Calories - New York Times
From India to Indiana, shortages and soaring prices for palm oil, soybean oil and many other types of vegetable oils are the latest, most striking example of a developing global problem: costly food.

The food price index of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, based on export prices for 60 internationally traded foodstuffs, climbed 37 percent last year. That was on top of a 14 percent increase in 2006, and the trend has accelerated this winter.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

heritage turkey breeds

here is an interesting video regarding a heritage turkey breeder in kansas! curiously, can you identify the birds behind him during the bulk of the video?? do they sound like turkeys??
here is the original link.

btw -- his breeding suggestions ARE from the 1930's and are incorrect on several levels. depending on male:female ratios (this could be 1:3 or 1:5 (male:female) for naturally mating turkeys; a breeder flock size of 200-300 can have a very small effective population size. we will discuss this in more detail in class.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Clone-burgers, anyone??

in a not-unexpected decision, the

F.D.A. Says Food From Cloned Animals Is Safe - New York Times
After years of debate, the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday declared that food from cloned animals and their progeny is safe, removing the last government hurdle before meat and milk derived from copies of prize dairy cows and superior hogs can be sold at grocery stores.
curiously, within the same week France prohibited the use of genetically modified corn developed by monsanto. there are many of the same concerns among other members of the european union, so don't be surprised if the other countries join in the ban.

is this good news for the chicken biz?? food for thought?

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