Tag Archives: Food

Geese given reprieve in Illinois

Geese 3, Getty Images, photo by John CancalosiSouthern Illinois University in Edwardsville won’t be capturing and killing geese after all because of local opposition to the harvest.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports the school announced Wednesday it would cull the campus’ population of the geese. University officials cited more than a dozen documented cases since March of the birds acting aggressively.

The plan was to humanely process the dozens of harvested geese into food products for the needy.

But hours after the plan was announced, it was called off after students and professors decried it as unethical and unnecessary. They encouraged non-lethal methods of addressing the situation.

SIU spokesman Doug McIlhagga says the university has tried to control the goose population by shaking the eggs so they don’t hatch. But that hasn’t worked.

Source: http://stlouis.cbslocal.com/2013/06/07/siu-edwardsville-calls-off-campus-geese-harvest/


BuyingPoultry.com – A Kickstarter Campaign

A free buying guide that takes the guesswork out of finding alternatives to factory farming.


Have you ever looked at a food label and thought, “Sounds good, but I have no idea what this means?” You’re not alone!

With so many food choices and claims out there, it’s hard to know where to get real information. What do Cage FreeFree RangeNatural, and Organic even mean? Is there a difference?

Our food choices have a huge impact on the world. People are purchasing food with increasing concern for ethical and social issues. Consumers are demanding more locally, humanely, and sustainably-produced animal products and plant-based alternatives.

That’s where BuyingPoultry.com comes in!

For the past four years, we’ve been working with high-welfare poultry farmers and animal welfare experts to create BuyingPoultry.com—a free buying guide that takes the guesswork out of choosing the most humane and sustainable poultry products and plant-based alternatives.

Buying Poultry will list every poultry producer and poultry certification in the United Sates and also tell you how they treat their animals, their employees, and the environment.

With BuyingPoultry.com, you’ll be able to see who’s best and who’s worst in the U.S. and in your local grocery store. We’ll list what each company can do better and make it easy for you to add your voice to the cause. We’ll also give you information about the best plant-based alternatives and where you can find them.

Best of all, it’ll be FREE and easy to access on your computer, smartphone, or tablet. 

Seems like a great idea, right? We think so too.

But creating a free tool that is comprehensive, authoritative, and functional isn’t as easy as it sounds. We have an amazing team of animal welfare experts and digital ninjas assembled to make Buying Poultry a reality.

Now all we need is your support!

Is freerange always freerange?

In November and December every year, nations across the globe prepare to tuck into a turkey dinner, be it for thanksgiving or Christmas.  And now more than ever, the consumer is ever more aware of the conditions the birds are kept in before they hit the table and are opting for free-range birds.

Free-range meat is now mainstream. Even Bernard Matthews — creator of the notorious Turkey Twizzler — will produce 364,000 free-range turkeys this year.

Turkey: Will the truth about free-range turkeys put you off your Christmas dinner?

But what has brought on this enthusiasm for free-range birds at a time when many are tightening their belts?

Because we’ve seen the pictures and read the horror stories about intensively reared poultry. We know that the life of a battery turkey, as of a battery chicken, is grim.

Tens of thousands of birds sharing one darkened shed (daylight makes the birds more active and therefore troublesome); virtually no room to move; their beaks cut off with a red-hot blade in order to prevent them from pecking each other to death.

Which is why so many of us look for two magic words on the wrapper when we go shopping for our Christmas turkey: free range.  We feel reassured that the bird in question has been allowed to grow up out of doors, to feel the wind in its feathers, and the sunshine on its back.  But, alarmingly, this bucolic fantasy is far from the truth.  At the top end of the market, free-range turkeys enjoy a good life — air, wind, sun — but if you’re a farmer who chooses to observe the free-range minimum standards, the life of your turkey is, frankly, not a huge amount better than that of an intensively reared bird.  And the wrapper will give you no clues. Still those same two words: Free range.

Pricey: Despite the recession, hundreds of thousands of families will be tucking into a free-range turkey this Christmas, but what has brought on this enthusiasm?

The rules, as they currently stand, are by no means in the birds’ best interest.  When it comes to battery farming, there is no government legislation regarding intensive turkey production, but if a farmer wants to sell to supermarkets, he needs to be in the Red Tractor approval scheme.  A Red Tractor intensive farm is allowed a ‘maximum stocking density’ — the number of birds in a set area — of 51kg of turkey per square metre.  In practice, this means that a typical bird has, on average, a living space two-thirds the size of an opened broadsheet newspaper.

And what about free-range turkeys? How much space are they guaranteed by law. On a free-range turkey farm, the maximum stocking density is 25kg per square metre — twice as much as an intensively farmed turkey.  Which sounds reasonably impressive for a moment.

Gobble gobble: Turkeys on a free-range farm

Until you imagine one-and-a-third opened broadsheet newspapers — and learn that a large breed of turkey can grow to the size of a small labrador.  As for flock size, there’s no limit to how many battery turkeys share a shed — some farms are home to 50,000 birds. There is also no limit imposed on flock size for free-range turkeys.

The pleasing idea of a dozen turkeys gobbling their way around a field or farmyard bears little relation to the reality.  Nor is beak-trimming confined to battery-raised birds. It’s routinely carried out on free-range farms, too — though not as frequently.

The animal welfare charity Compassion in World Farming says the practice is horribly cruel.  Chief executive Philip Lymbery says: ‘The beak is highly sensitive. Cutting off the end of a beak is much more akin to chopping off your fingertip than your toenail.’  The practice is only off-limits to farmers who sign up to an organic regime.  But the biggest myth of free-range turkey farming is that the animals spend much of their time outdoors.  The phrase free-range suggests freedom, exercise and open spaces. Isn’t that the difference between free-range birds and their battery cousins?  The shocking truth is that the free-range turkey on your plate might never have ventured outdoors.  The rules says a free-range bird must have ‘continuous daytime access to open-air runs’. But there’s a world of difference between being offered ‘access’ and actually taking it.  In practice, on large-scale free-range farms, only a few of the birds avail themselves of this freedom.  Meanwhile, the others — thousands — stay indoors all the time, either too frightened to go out or too unadventurous.

Jody Scheckter — an organic turkey farmer who also raises buffalo, cattle and sheep on his Laverstoke Park Farm outside Basingstoke, Hants — says consumers have been hoodwinked by the free-range industry.  ‘I once went to see a farmer who had 3,000 birds — and there were just two outside. But how much do consumers really understand about this? I think “free-range” is used too freely. I don’t think it means very much.’  Scheckter says that if you want the best-tasting, healthiest food, ‘the birds need to be outside, eating the grasses and the bugs.  That’s the most important part of turkey farming. They’re like us. They need sun, fresh air, exercise, good food.’

Chris Atkinson, head of standards at the Soil Association, responsible for policing organic farmers, says the more nervous birds in a flock may be afraid to leave the shed because alpha males often block the exits, known as popholes, in order to demonstrate their dominance.  Like shaven-headed bouncers guarding a city centre pub, they decide who is allowed through and who isn’t.

Fresh meat: Do free-range turkeys really have a better life?

‘So if a farmer is going to allow access to the outside, the exits need to be within reasonable distance of every part of the bird house so that the birds don’t have to negotiate too many rivals in order to get out.’

But what does an exemplary free-range farm look like?  Pat Taylor owns Rutland Organic Poultry near Stamford, Lincolnshire, with her husband Henry. When I visit, there’s not a single bird who has opted to stay indoors.  Instead, 140 turkeys, all of them from slow-reared, heritage breeds, are wandering around by the banks of the River Chater. One or two have settled happily in a 300-year-old willow tree.  Having never encountered a flock of turkeys before, I’m taken aback by the noise they make. It’s loud, it’s undignified, it’s rather funny.  Every time they hear a human voice, they respond in unison with a honking noise. It’s a bit like listening to the House of Commons benches during Prime Minister’s Questions. Pat has to shout to be heard above them.  He worries about the idea of free-range ‘minimum requirements’.  ‘With free range, you just have to open the door,’ Pat says. ‘You don’t need to have grass outside, they can be in the yard.’  It’s not like that here. Pat won’t even have artificial insemination on her farm: all her turkeys have been naturally bred.

Tellingly, battery birds are physically unable to mate because generations of selective breeding have led to birds with huge amounts of breast meat and small, short legs, which is what supermarket customers prefer.  But Pat’s truly free-range birds come at a premium. She charges £50 for her smallest turkeys and £100 for the largest. Jody Scheckter’s are even more costly — at £20 per kilo, his turkeys are three times the price of a free-range bird from Tesco.

And a Bernard Matthews bird? A spokeswoman for the company acknowledges that it observes the letter of the law — an indoor stocking density of 25kg per square metre — but no more than that.  However, she took exception to the description of these conditions as ‘minimum standard’.

Delicious: It tastes good, but some free-range birds are more free to roam than others

‘They are standards set by the Special Marketing Terms under the EU Poultrymeat Marketing Regulations, in order for turkeys to be classed as free range.’  Which is perfectly true: but it doesn’t take away from the fact that some free-range birds are freer to roam than others.  Ultimately, the animal campaigners at Compassion in World Farming would rather you bought a free-range turkey than a battery one, even while acknowledging that at the bottom of the market the improvement in animal welfare is pretty marginal.

So as you stand by the cold counter in the supermarket choosing your bird for your next holiday feast, you may rightly wonder about what sort of life the free-range turkey in question might have had.

Wind in their feathers and grass beneath their feet, or a patch of ground not much bigger than a newspaper?

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2247849/The-truth-free-range-turkeys-Christmas-dinner.html#ixzz2OAh43fxU

How Much Feed Does a Chicken Eat?

A common question among poultry owners, especially those new to raising birds, is “How much do my birds eat, so I know how much feed to buy?”.
Below are some general guidelines to go by, keeping in mind that a variety of factors, from weather to other available food sources, can influence the exact amount of prepared feed your birds will consume.

Feeding amounts for newly hatched birds:

Type of Bird Feeding period Total amount of feed
Layer chicks First 10 weeks 9-10 lbs per bird
Broiler chicks (based on Cornish Game Birds) First 6 weeks 8-9 lbs per bird
Turkeys First 12 weeks 72 lbs per bird
Geese First 8 weeks 53 lbs per bird
Ducks First 8 weeks 22 lbs per bird
Gamebirds First 8 weeks 9 lbs per bird

Feeding amounts for laying birds:

Type of Bird Total amount of feed
Chickens 1.5 lbs per bird per week
Turkeys 4 – 5 lbs per bird per week
Geese 3 lbs per bird per week
Gamebirds 1 – 1.5 lbs per bird per week

Source: http://scoopfromthecoop.nutrenaworld.com/how-much-feed-does-a-chicken-eat/

Freerange Chicken Song

Here at The Natural Poultry Farming Guide, we only endorse free range poultry farming.  We only endorse natural products and methodologies and want all farmed chickens to kept in an open free ranging environment and to move away from the cruel intensive battery farming methods of old.  All our chickens live in a free ranging environment, with lots of room to move and grow.  This great little song by Gene Burnett vocalizes our love of free range chickens.

Keeping Geese – Getting Started

So far we’ve been concentrating on everything to do with keeping chickens, but if you’re after a bird that is full of charm, character and can guard your house like a dog, then geese are the answer!  These wonderful creatures also make great pets and in the coming articles we’re going to look at everything you need to know about keeping them successfully.

Did you know?

Did you know that geese can live to be more than 20 years old, so is certainly something to consider when deciding on keeping them.  They are also sociable animals and like to have each others company, so you should be thinking of getting more than just one!

What do you need to start?

Just like keeping all types of poultry, geese need space to roam.  Geese are by nature, a free ranging breed, and need space to move around, so a large garden for a smallish flock is ideal.

Housing Your Geese

Just like any other pet, your geese need a safe, sheltered spot that they can retreat to at night and when they want some relief or protection from the sun, wind or rain.  A stable, shed or small building will provide suitable housing. If purpose-built, the house does not need to be huge, but should be at least 6ft high and 4ft at the back and give each goose at least a square meter of floor space.  An area of 8ft x 6ft will comfortably house 4-6 geese. A good wide door should be provided and most of the front should be wire mesh. The house should face away from the prevailing winter wind. A higher roof makes cleaning easier, as does a concrete or wooden floor. Sections partitioned off will encourage your geese to make their nests in a secure place, as well as preventing them from stealing each other’s eggs when sitting. Make sure the house is well ventilated and dry and that the floor is covered with a dry material such as sawdust or wood shavings, which you replace when necessary.  Straw makes the best bedding and needs to be changed regularly.

Feeding Geese

As geese eat grass and the insects that live in the grass, you’ll find that the small areas of you garden the geese graze will become messy and bare, and the geese will need to be moved onto a new grassy patch as time goes on.  Make sure the grass is kept relatively short; less than 4 inches high.  But grass isn’t their only food source and you’ll have to make sure they get the protein, vitamins and minerals they need in their diet too.  You can supplement the grass with a mixture of wheat and pellets, given dry in a bowl.  Geese will also happily eat vegetables such as cauliflower trimmings, carrots and potatoes, but you need make sure that these are more of a treat, rather than a staple part of the diet.  Like any bird, they will also need grit in their diet and you can provide this by supplying a dish containing coarse sand or mixed poultry grit.


Of course water is vital!  If you have a pond (it must be clean) it will supply the geese with a consistent and fresh source of water.  Geese are a type of waterfowl, so will want to be able to play in water, doing things such as preening and dipping their heads.  Of course even if you don’t have one, they will need fresh water every day, which can be provided with special water hoppers.  How about a child’s paddling pool?  You’ll find the geese, like most waterfowl, are rather messy creatures, so will have to empty, scrub, and refill the water containers and tidy up their enclosure on a daily basis.

Don’t Forget to Check With Council

Finally, don’t forget to give your local council a call before you bring any geese home to see if there are any limits or restrictions on how many geese you can keep.  There are more likely to be restrictions in urban areas.

What To Feed Chickens at Different Life Stages

Feeding your chickens a complete and balanced diet is essential if they are to stay healthy and lay lots of lovely eggs! Chickens will eat almost anything so to prevent deficiencies and health problems, a wide range of foods should be offered.

You’ll find that the feeding patterns of your chickens changes throughout the year.  Your chickens will benefit from foraging for bugs and greens in the summer and consequently eat less pellets.  Whereas in the winter when the weather gets colder, they’ll eat far more pellet based food to keep warm.

And another good tip is to hang your feeders. Hang them about five inches off the ground so that they’re mobile and the girls can’t knock the feeders over, spilling food and wasting it, which in turn  attracts rodents.

Corn is a huge favourite with our chickens.  It warms them up at night in the winter, but more importantly, throw it on the floor and let them scratch for it. It’s their entertainment. It’s going to keep them occupied and hopefully, they’ll fill up on that, and go to bed with a nice, full crop, which will keep them warm over the night.

The other thing that chickens need available all the time is mixed grit. It’s a mixture of flint grit and oyster shell. Now, chickens don’t have teeth, so need the flint grit to aid the digestion of their food.  The grit and food goes into their gizzard where a strong muscle action, ‘grinds’ the food up.  It also  helps prevent crop impactions. The dissolvable grit, like oyster shell, they use for their egg shells and mineral intake.  For birds that are laying large numbers of eggs, an easy and high calcium supplement is dried egg shell ground to a powder and added to their normal feed. Layer pellets are supplemented with calcium as well. Soft or thin shelled eggs may indicate calcium problems in your birds.

In addition to a good quality poultry pellet, a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables should also be given daily. Examples of raw fruits and vegetables that can be fed include: Bok choy, silverbeet, spinach, endive, chickweed, cabbage, vegetable peels and fruit (e.g. banana). In addition, table foods such as wholemeal rice, rolled oats, cooked pasta, beans, bread and legumes can be offered as well occasionally. If you are unsure about the safety of a particular foodstuff check with your veterinarian and/or experienced chicken owner first.

You can feed your chickens your kitchen scraps.  But make sure scraps don’t contain anything that is high in fat or salt, and avoid feeding anything that is rancid or spoiled.  Do not feed your chickens: rhubarb, avocado, chocolate, onion, garlic, citrus fruits or lawn mower clippings (as these can become mouldy quickly and mouldy food can make chickens very sick).

Source: http://kb.rspca.org.au/What-should-I-feed-my-backyard-chickens_305.html