Animals in Agriculture

Alternative Systems for Laying Hens

FAWCMajority and Minority Reports

By Ruth Harrison

Scientific evidence against commercialbattery cages for laying hens has caught up with public revulsionof them, and development of alternative systems has been gatheringmomentum in many European countries. In Sweden the start of aten year phase out of battery cages coincides with the end ofa similar phase out period in Switzerland. The European Commissionis producing another report on the welfare of laying hens systemslater this year and work has already started on revisions to theBattery Hens Directive (88/ 166/13C) which, it is hoped, willcontain an appendix setting standards in alternative systems.

Reformers have always faced a classicdilemma. Is it better to be "pragmatic" and go for aseries of minor changes hoping to improve things step by step,or to go for what they deem necessary? It is a dilemma that hasnever failed to divide the animal welfare movement. It is alsoa dilemma that can divide government committees. Such fundamentaldifferences have led to three minority reports from Britain'sFarm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) and its predecessor duringthe last twenty-four years, the last of these being on the standardsto be set for loose housed laying hens: "The Welfare of LayingHens in Colony Systems." The majority approach on the Councilwas to seek moderate changes which industry could accommodatenow and then to review the situation in five years' time witha view to making further changes. The minority approach was toseek the radical change that is only possible at the beginningof a new development and set more stringent but long-term goals.The Russian proverb "it is impossible to jump a river intwo steps" epitomizes the differences in approach.

The step-by-step approach may havebeen politically feasible at a time when legislation could bemore easily introduced nationally. but now that Britain is partof the European Community (EC), change is much more complicatedand difficult to achieve. It takes years for all the member statesto reach agreement and many more years to phase in regulations.This is the political reality of membership of the EC, and thepolitical reality which persuaded the minority group on FAWC togo for more stringent standards to be phased in over a suitablylong period. Not only was this more politically expedient butthe group felt that setting long-term goals would offer more stabilityto the poultry industry than a series of short-term changes.

The report highlights space as beingone of the most important welfare factors. The majority reportthen lays down 7 birds/m2 floor space (1425cm2/bird) in deep litterhouses,but when 55% of the birds can perch 15.5 hens/m2 of floor space.The report admits that "there is some evidence to suggestthat hens would benefit from increased space allowance (possiblyup to 2500 cm2/hen)" and recommends a review in five years'time. The minority report sets out the scientific evidence whichshows that 1424cm2/bird lies within the range in which maximumaggression is likely to occur - and also stress and hysteria -and that 2500cm2/bird is nearer to what is needed.

This highlights another powerful reasonfor aiming directly at recommendations indicated by existing scientificevidence and giving producers time to phase them in. If the qualityof the total environment - and of each of the components whichgo to make up that environment – are not good, then the problemswhich confront the industry at the present time – in particularfeather pecking and cannibalism – will be bound to continueaffecting the well-being of millions of laying hens for decadesto come.

In spite of the Premiums which eggs from alternative systems command,work on the systems has been based on the premise that the newsystems must yield a financial return comparable to that frombattery cages, and this has led to a number of undesirable featuresdetrimental to animal welfare.

The majority group on FAWC set standards which continue torely on debeaking and a minimum light level of 10 lux in the house(although they recommend that "routine, non-therapeutic beaktrimming"[whatever that is] should be banned in 1996). The minority groupwere unable to accept any system which relies for its successon either debeaking or dim lighting. The choice of genetic strain,the stocking rate and the quality of the birds' environment shouldbe such that these two major deprivations are unnecessary.

The Ministry's Agricultural and Development Advisory Service'scosting of allowing more space to hens only add 30% to producerscosts - going from cages (stocked at 450cm2/bird - EC standardsfor new cages now and existing cages in 1995) to the strawyardsystem (stocked at 3 birds/m). Space allowance in cages will undoubtedlybe increased, reducing this extra cost to 20% or even less. Itis most important to remember that this extra is in productioncosts and not in retail costs. Indeed the disproportionate premiumscharged on non-battery eggs by retailers could easily absorb thisincrease without any greater cost to consumers.

One of the disadvantages of the timid, 'pragmatic' approachto change is that the science of animal welfare is advancing sorapidly " that recommendations can be out of date almostas soon as they are advanced. This has already happened with someof the recommendations in the majority report. It recommends aminimum lighting level of 10 lux throughout the house whereasit has been shown that dim lighting conditions (>30 lux) havebeen reported to result in more fear responses, particularly whengroup size was large (Hughes & Black 1974). Scientific evidencequoted in the minority report shows that hens keep lights on for80% of the time when given the choice and that the adrenal glandswere heavier of hens kept in dim light. Similarly, the majorityreport recommends 18cm perch space/ bird, but it has been foundby Gregory (pers. communic.) studying perching behavior of birdsusing infra-red photography, that even 20cm/bird is not enoughto prevent birds having difficulty in finding perch space andlanding on it and this could be another cause of bone breakage.

We should not seek to test new systems to the point of scientificcertainty - which in any case is impossible. There is enough evidence.if we axe prepared to give the hen the benefit of the doubt, tosuggest that we can be more generous in our recommendations andnot hold back relying, on further chances in the future. We aresetting the scene for a very long time to come and the more wepermit poor conditions to become entrenched the more difficultit will be to get even minor changes next time round.


References: Broom, D.M. (1992) Theneeds of laying hens and some indicators of poor welfare. (inpress)

Farm Animal Welfare Council. (199 1). Report on the welfareof laying hens in colony systems. Majority report. FAWC Secretariat,Room 2107A. Tolwort Tower, Surbriton, Surrey KT6 7DX.

Rott,M. (1978) Verhaltenstorungen in derGefluegelintensivhaltung- Ursache und Bedeutung der Hysterie. Mh. Vet. Med., 33 455- 458

Siegel, H.S. (1959) Egg production characteristics and adrenalfunction in white leghorns at different floorspace levels. PoultryScience, 38 893-898.


Ruth Harrison is the author of the ground-breaking AnimalMachines publishedin 1964. She served on the British Governments Farm Animal WelfareCouncil from 1967 to 1991.


There are still some farmers who believe in treating theiranimals to natural surroundings, notonly in order to raise healthier animals but for ethical valuesas well. On a small farm in the Shenandoah Valley near Swoope,Virginia, Joel Salatin is doing just that with his chickens.

"The long term benefits for society are greater becausewe are treating our animals better. But we don't do it for businessreasons. We do it because it's right." Salatin explained.

Salatin has developed a portable "Eggmobile" contraptionwhich houses 100 laying hens. These hens forage as far as 200yards from their home during the day. They naturally come backto roost so no fences are necessary to keep them contained. Salatinexplained that on the usual "factory farm" laying hensare kept under prolonged lighting to create the illusion of springtime. They are therefore always laying eggs. On the Salatin familyfarm the hens are well aware of what season it is and go throughthe natural winter rest period.

Salatin also raises about 6000 Cornish cross broilers a year.These chickens are kept in 2 foot tall mobile homes thatare moved over fresh grass every morning. About 100 animalsare kept in each house. A pen of the same size on a factory farmwould contain some 1000 to 1500 birds.

Both hens and broilers have a diet that is substantially differentfrom their unlucky relatives on factory farms. Because the hensare free-ranging they are able to choose their own food. Not onlyis this accomplished by natural foraging but Salatin gives themseveral different feeds to chose from as well. He believes, dependingon each individual chicken's health and the time of year, thesebirds will choose the food that is healthiest for them. Sincethe broiler houses are moved to fresh grass every morning, thebroilers also have the same opportunity to choose their own diet.Both hens and broilers obviously get plenty of green material,something that would be unusual on a factory farm and they arenever given steroids or antibiotics which induce unnaturally rapidgrowth. One of the results, and also the reason why it is economicallysensible to raise animals in such a manner, is that the lifespanof a laying hen on Joel Salatin's farm is generally three yearscompared to a normal factory farm lifespan of one year.

Farm Animals - AWI

News:
The Animal Welfare Institute is pleased to help sponsor the 42nd Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology
 

The 42nd Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology will be held at University College Dublin, Ireland from 5-9 August 2008. Our aim is to make the congress dynamic with a new approach to workshops that will facilitate the exchange of ideas between participants.  For more information, click here.


New Jersey Supreme Court Hears Appeal in Landmark Farm Animal Welfare Case

Trenton, NJ (July 11, 2007) - New Jersey's Supreme Court has granted a petition to hear a landmark case challenging the state's "humane" standards for the treatment of farm animals. These regulations currently permit numerous inhumane practices, including housing pregnant pigs for months at a time in cramped gestation crates, tethering and confining calves raised for veal until they are sent to slaughter, and performing mutilations without anesthesia—including castration, de-beaking, de-toeing and tail docking.

The Animal Welfare Institute is part of a broad coalition of humane organizations, farmers, veterinarians, and environmental and consumer groups that petitioned the court in April 2007 to reverse a lower court's February 16, 2007 ruling upholding the New Jersey Department of Agriculture's (NJDA) approval of some of the most egregious factory farm abuses as "humane." The appeal goes beyond any previous legal action taken on behalf of farm animals in that it seeks a judicial declaration that many common factory-farming practices are inhumane under New Jersey law.


New Food Seal Sets Highest Standards for Humane Treatment of Farm Animals Animal Welfare Approved Surpasses Other Seals; First Humane Program to Champion Family Farms and Repudiate Double Standards in Other Labeling Programs

New Standards Supported by Farmers, Top Chefs and Notables Such as Willie Nelson, Rosemary Harris and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Please visit www.AnimalWelfareApproved.org, the new website for the Animal Welfare Approved standards program.


Please Help These Chickens

You may think you're looking at rabbits. But according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), you're looking at chickens. And chickens, says the USDA, are not really animals.

  • Click here to view this ad recently featured in the New York Times by the Humane Farming Association, Animal Rights International and Animal Welfare Institute.

"Scenes from USDA Inspected Slaughterhouses"

Animal Welfare Institute and Humane Farming Association release new video footage entitled "Scenes from USDA Inspected Slaughterhouses"  To view video click here.

AWI on Irradiation

Public Interest Groups Denounce Giant Food's Decision to Sell Irradiated Meat

Groups Urge Chain to Remove Product from Shelves

The Animal Welfare Institute has as one of its primary goals the eradication of animal factories because of their inherent cruelty.  At the same time we are reviving a culture of humane farming.  AWI promotes humane husbandry and works with over 200 family farmers that adhere to AWI's humane pig husbandry standards which allow pigs to behave naturally. AWI, like the humane farmers we work with, strongly opposes food irradiation!

Irradiation is being promoted by corporate interests as a solution to a contaminated industrial food supply.  However, irradiation is not an inherent part of farming, it is only the most recent technological component of large-scale industrial agriculture which is continuously problematic. 

Irradiating meat at the end of production, does not address the real and most importantly preventable causes of industrial food contaminants such as inhumane factory farming practices, dramatic cutbacks in federal food safety inspectors and dangerously accelerated line-speeds at slaughtering and processing facilities.

Knowing that meat will be irradiated, industrial producers will have even less incentive to reform the inherently filthy and inhumane conditions of massive factory farms where animals are viewed as protein production units and death loss is accepted as a cost of production.   Irradiation will do nothing to abolish the cruelty animals suffer in factories such as the confinement of pigs in crates so narrow they cannot turn around and beef cattle forced to stand ankle deep in their own waste.  Irradiation, in fact, will perpetuate and most certainly increase the abuse of farm animals.  Rather than accepting irradiated meat, we ask that consumers demand humanely raised and slaughtered animals.

Irradiation also masks cruel conditions in slaughterhouses.  Federal inspectors are not stationed in, and have little to no access to, those areas of slaughterhouses where most humane handling and slaughter violations occur.  Rather than irradiate meat at the end of production, we call on USDA to station inspectors, on a fulltime basis, for the purpose of enforcing the Humane Slaughter Act regulations at those critical points in the handling and slaughtering process where Humane Slaughter Act violations are most common such as the unloading and handling areas and the stunning and bleeding areas.

Instead of irradiating meat and allowing atrocities in slaughterhouses to continue, line speeds in slaughterhouses must be reduced to 1970 levels or around 40% of current velocities.  Current line speeds prevent animals from being killed in accordance with the Humane Slaughter Act and as a result meat becomes contaminated with feces, urine, pus and vomit.  Irradiation does nothing to remove these contaminants.

Irradiated food perpetuates a system of meat production that relies on the inhumane treatment of animals.  By masking the food safety problems caused by cruel practices and inhumane conditions at massive factory farms and slaughterhouses, irradiation allows industrial agriculture, and its appalling treatment of animals, to continue.  Irradiating meat at the end of a cruel line of production is tantamount to placing a Band-Aid on a surgical wound.  We ask Giant Food and consumers everywhere to reject irradiated products in favor of a humane and safe food supply.

--Wendy Swann, Animal Welfare Institute, Nov. 14, 2002

FARM SANCTUARY:AN ESCAPE FROM "AGRIBUSINESS NIGHTMARE"

by Adam Roberts


Farm animals face some of the most abhorrent cruelty inflictedby humankind. Hidden from the sight of most Americans who consumeanimal products, literally billions of animals in U.S. factoryfarms endure unparalleled misery every year. One might think thattechnological advances would result in more humane treatment ofanimals. Unfortunately, for many of these innocent creatures,"progress" means more torture. Happily, there existsa peaceful place for those farm animals who are rescued from theagribusiness nightmare. Abandoned, sick and disabled farm animalsfind serenity at Gene and Lorri Bauston's Farm Sanctuary basedin Watkins Glen, New York.

FARM SANCTUARY IS HUMANE REFUGE

Founded in 1986 to help end farm animal abuse, the Sanctuary creativelyeducates Americans about treating animals with compassionand tirelessly works to pass legislation to end the sufferingof farm animals. As the name implies, Farm Sanctuary also servesas a haven for some of the abandoned farm animals fortunate enoughto be found by the Sanctuary's caring staff.

In the mid-1950s, Congress addressed some of the evils facingfarm animals in America. Speaking on the bill to establish a nationalpolicy mandating humane methods of livestock slaughter, SenatorRichard L. Neuberger noted: "We have taken for granted, thatthe Eighth Amendment of our Constitution prohibits inflictionof cruel and unusual punishment upon our citizens. Today, thenational conscience is asking why we subject our animal friendsto such cruel and inhumane treatment." Almost 40 years afterpassage of the 1958 Humane Slaughter Act, we still must ask thesame question.

Although the 1958 law represented a monumental effort to amelioratesome of the agony of slaughter, it is not a panacea for all farmanimals' ills. Possibly the most egregious and avoidable inhumanitybefalling farm animals is the way in which non-ambulatory livestock- downers - are heartlessly abandoned to die a slow andpainful death. Animals who lose their mobility -- and, therefore,profitability -- are discarded without pity.

The Sanctuary's initial work to help address the downer issuewas an investigation into Pennsylvania's Lancaster Stockyardsin the late 1980s, where animals too sick to walk or even standwere frequently found scattered around stockyard grounds. Often,cows were left lying for days without water, food or vital veterinarycare. Though pressure from the Sanctuary staff led stockyard representativesto promise reform, little changed. Concluding that all citizensshould know what barbarism hides behind stockyard walls, FarmSanctuary mounted an aggressive educational and media campaignto reveal the "Downside of Livestock Marketing."

Ultimately, Farm Sanctuary became custodian for numerous animalsand the stockyard began taking steps to destroy downed animals,establishing a "no downer" policy. Unfortunately, theproblems continued and Farm Sanctuary, incorporated as a humaneenforcement agency in Pennsylvania in 1992, filed cruelty chargesagainst Lancaster Stockyards for denying adequate veterinary careto a sick animal. They were found guilty.

Lancaster Stockyards is not an aberration, however. Between 1991and 1993, Farm Sanctuary investigations uncovered downed animalsat stockyards in 18 states from California to New York, Texasto Wisconsin: cows dumped in carts of garbage, calves draggedby their ears, and other incapacitated animals simply abandonedto die.

Typically, resisting regulation, indefatigable stockyard and otheranimal facilities' representatives maintain that they could andwould be "self -policing." Farm Sanctuary was rightfullyskeptical of this suggestion. For many of these stockyards, voluntaryadherence to ethical standards of conduct is prompted not by morals,but instead by profitability.

In 1994, Gene Bauston, Farm Sanctuary's charismatic cofounder,lobbied the California legislature to become the first state inthe country to enact legislation to prevent cruelty toward downedanimals. The bill was signed into law by Governor Pete Wilson.

Federal legislation must now be passed following California'swise example. This will be the only way to ensure nationally thatstockyard owners and employees act in the best interests of animals'health and not their own level of convenience and prosperity.

Representative Gary Ackerman (D-NY) has re-introduced the "DownedAnimal Protection Act" (now H.R. 2143) to make it "unlawfulfor any stockyard, market agency, or dealer, to buy, sell, give,receive, transfer, market, hold, or drag any non-ambulatory livestockunless the non-ambulatory livestock has been humanely euthanized."

Passage of such a measure would allow imposition of civil penaltiesof up to $2,500 and criminal penalties of up to a year in prisonfor individuals and/or companies who continue to employ practicessuch as using chains to drag non-ambulatory animals by their brokenlimbs.

Testifying before the United States House of Representatives,Bauston asserted that, "Although the livestock industry hasshown an increased concern over the mistreatment of downed animals,and has taken steps to resolve the problem, it is clear that industrycannot police itself, and that legislation is needed." Throughthe dedicated work of Farm Sanctuary, the disastrous downer sufferinghas gained national attention and could soon come to an end inthe not too-distant future.

Efforts in the national arena, however, stall yearly as agribusinessexecutives with high-priced lobbyists convince elected officialsnot to push forth with this essential legislation.

Inherently, agribusiness industry is to blame for establishingdeplorable conditions using such intensive agricultural systemsthat lead, by their very nature, to debilitated animals. Dairycattle, for instance, are pushed to their physical limits by anindustry thirsty for highly profitable milk and milk products.The cruelty of modern milk production is exacerbated by technologicaladvances such as the use of growth hormones to increase milk output(see Animal Guardian, Vol. 7, No. 2, 1994, for furtherdiscussion).

Thankfully, no such nightmares await cattle at the Sanctuary.Ahimsa was found at a veal calf auction; too weak to stand orlift his head. With emergency veterinary treatment by Sanctuarystaff, he recovered and now is used to teach Sanctuary visitorsabout non-violence.

 

 

 

 

 
 (Clockwise from top) Downed calves awaiting slaugher. Jackson in excellent health at the Farm Sanctuary. Roscoe at the Farm Sanctuary. Rhonda, Duane and Tania roosting contentedly at the Farm Sanctuary. An abandoned downer left behind in a slaughterhouse holding area.

PIGS FIND HOME, TOO

Cows are not the only farm animals at risk - pigs also facea cruel fate. In the summer of 1992, Farm Sanctuary investigatorsdiscovered downed pigs in Iowa, South Dakota, and Minnesota.

Swine cruelty in factory farms is well documented. These social,intelligent animals live tormented lives in close confinement,their normal behavior inhibited by cramped quarters in uncomfortablestalls with concrete floors, forced to breed repeatedly untilbeing sent to slaughter. Hogs in transport are overcrowded purposelyto increase profit, even if hundreds of hogs die in the process.

Everyone faces danger, as numerous factories are polluting otherwisepastoral, peaceful communities throughout the U.S. The Augustissue of Pork '95 magazine describes a hog factory lagoonwhich broke, releasing "an estimated 25 million gallons ofeffluent" which "flowed eight inches deep across a highwayand washed over fields and woods before entering a tributary ofthe New River" in North Carolina. Not surprisingly, thousandsof fish were killed and health authorities warned against humanuse of these waterways. State officials imposed a $110,000 fineon Oceanview Farms for this terrible mishap.

This hog factory disaster is not an isolated case, however. Increasedair pollution from the terrible odor of more hogs in less space,as well as water and other ecological damage from these intensiveoperations, have sounded rallying cries against hog factories.Incensed locals and small farmers have begun fighting the industryand city councils have begun rejecting proposals to build newor expanded hog factories near these towns.

No angry protesters circle Farm Sanctuary, and no poorly treatedhogs live on its sprawling landscape. It's the opposite. In thesummer of 1992, for example, Cameron, Gwideon, and Luna, who wereborn at a stockyard and experienced the death of some of theirlittermates, had Sanctuary volunteers serve as "sow surrogates"to help the piglets recover to be placed in permanent homes.

Vinny was given to the Sanctuary in the winter of 1993. He hadbeen crushed in an intensive environment causing a dislocatedhip and hoof infection. Vinny has recovered fully and is now ableto exhibit both typical behavior patterns of a free pig - andsuch atypical behavior as eating popcorn, playing with his dogfriend or napping on his very own blanket. Pigs like Vinny nowwait for the next rub of their bellies by Sanctuary staff andvisitors.

POULTRY ALSO NEED A SANCTUARY

Also well documented is the harsh handling and housing of poultryfor egg production and general consumption. Stories abound oftortuous debeaking, cramped cages in which birds cannot spreadtheir wings, and their inability to engage in normal social behaviorsuch as establishing pecking orders and engaging in dustbathing.

In the fall of 1993, Farm Sanctuary documented information froma local official at one of the Tyson Foods plants, reporting thatan employee " 'kills sick or injured birds by hitting themin the head with a stick,' and live birds may have been dumpedcarelessly in.a landfill."

Again, animals are helpless at the hands of big business andmost animal advocates are currently ill-equipped to fight on theirbehalf. A Washington Post report on July 23, 1995, concerningTyson Foods, the world's largest poultry producer, shows thatthe company renders over, one million birds per week! With over55,000 employees and an annual revenue of roughly five billiondollars, companies such as this may seem beyond being exposed.

Animal protection organizations like Farm Sanctuary are engagedin a Herculean struggle to require companies to provide birdswith humane treatment. Influencing consumer buying trends awayfrom products made by companies which treat animals thoughtlesslymay impose sufficient market pressure to force a decision formore compassionate care. Again, without a financial incentiveto change, legislation is vital.

Passage of the Humane Methods of Poultry Slaughter Act of 1995would be an important step in granting poultry a less painfuldeath. Currently, poultry are exempt from the Humane SlaughterAct of 1958. H.R. 264, sponsored by Representative Andrew Jacobs(D-NY) would mandate that poultry be slaughtered only when theyare "...rendered permanently unconscious by an electrical,chemical, or other method that is rapid and effective before orimmediately after the poultry are shackled or otherwise preparedfor slaughter" or slaughtered in accordance with Kosher law.

The United Kingdom and Canada have adopted laws for the welfareof poultry during slaughter. The U.S. is one of the few westerncountries that does not protect birds from undue agony in theslaughter process. At the state level, California again led theway for compassionate animal protection legislation, becomingthe first state to enact a Humane Poultry Slaughter Bill in 1991.

Some birds, having endured the hazards of confinement, may nevermake it to slaughter. Carelessly discarded and left to die, FarmSanctuary provides these birds a peaceful retirement.

Clarissa, a former laying hen, was lucky. Sanctuary Newstells her story: "She spent her entire life in a bare wirecage, crammed together with several other hens. For month afterendless month, she could not walk, stretch her wings, or evensit down comfortably." When she was taken into Sanctuary,she "had lost most of her feathers and 75 percent of herbody was covered with bruises. She was also severely malnourished,and unable to walk normally." Thanks to the work of Sanctuarystaff, Clarissa received attention, grew feathers, gained strength,and was given a new chance at a happy life.

Farm Sanctuary's adoption program enables individuals to pay amonthly fee ranging from six dollars per chicken to forty dollarsper cow to help provide necessary shelter and feed for the animalsin the Sanctuary's care. Willing individuals living in an appropriatesetting may also take rescued animals to live with them in "homeadoption."

The Sanctuary even publishes a "Turkey Adoption List"to help promote turkey adoptions, in pairs, to safe homes. Inlate 1994, the Sanctuary rescued 126 turkeys whose overcrowdedcrate fell from a transportation truck. Through the staff's efforts,the turkeys were able to recover and live out the remainder oftheir lives without the threat of cruelty and premature death.

The Bauston's regularly extol the virtues of vegetarian diningand have redefined the notion of having turkey for Thanksgivingas these birds are invited to dine at the table with their humancounterparts during the holiday feast. Further, the Sanctuarysupports vegetarian dinner parties and the opening of vegan restaurants.

BOVINE MOOOOVES OTHERS

Additionally, Sanctuary staff manage to inject some levity intothe heavy subject of farm animal welfare. "Ms. Moo,"Farm Sanctuary's beautiful bovine ambassador, represents millionsof animal advocates to help convince the mega-fast food chain,Burger King, to initiate the sale of a tasty vegetarian burgerat some of its restaurants.

Mr. Bauston successfully helped convince Dennis Tase, presidentof Wienerschnitzel, the nation's largest hotdog chain, to trya vegetarian alternative. Southern California will be the firsttest market.

Farm animal walk-a-thons, a bed and breakfast, a people barn,cow camping and an annual hoe-down all contribute to the Sanctuary'spositive attitude toward farm animals.

Though many animal advocacy organizations identify problemsand promote solutions to miserable situations, few actually engagein hands-on activities to help. Farm Sanctuary gives a name tootherwise forgotten creatures and provides and inspiration forus all to work for the end of farm animal abuse. Everyone shouldfollow their lead.

For those interested in more information, you may contact FarmSanctuary directly at:

P.O. Box 150
Watkins Glen, NY 14891
Phone: (607) 583-2225
Fax: (607) 583-2041 
 P.O. Box 1065
Orland, CA 95963
Phone: (916) 865-4617
Fax: (916) 865-4622


Animal Guardian Volume 8, No. 4, 1995, p. 6-9, 15.

Reprinted with permission from the Animal Guardian, DorisDay Animal League
http://www.ddal.org


Free Ranging Chickens

Virginia Farmer Raises Free RangingChickens

There are still some farmers who believe in treating theiranimals to natural surroundings, notonly in order to raise healthier animals but for ethical valuesas well. On a small farm in the Shenandoah Valley near Swoope,Virginia, Joel Salatin is doing just that with his chickens.

"The long term benefits for society are greater becausewe are treating our animals better. But we don't do it for businessreasons. We do it because it's right." Salatin explained.

Salatin has developed a portable "Eggmobile" contraptionwhich houses 100 laying hens. These hens forage as far as 200yards from their home during the day. They naturally come backto roost so no fences are necessary to keep them contained. Salatinexplained that on the usual "factory farm" laying hensare kept under prolonged lighting to create the illusion of springtime. They are therefore always laying eggs. On the Salatin familyfarm the hens are well aware of what season it is and go throughthe natural winter rest period.

Salatin also raises about 6000 Cornish cross broilers a year.These chickens are kept in 2 foot tall mobile homes thatare moved over fresh grass every morning. About 100 animalsare kept in each house. A pen of the same size on a factory farmwould contain some 1000 to 1500 birds.

Both hens and broilers have a diet that is substantially differentfrom their unlucky relatives on factory farms. Because the hensare free-ranging they are able to choose their own food. Not onlyis this accomplished by natural foraging but Salatin gives themseveral different feeds to chose from as well. He believes, dependingon each individual chicken's health and the time of year, thesebirds will choose the food that is healthiest for them. Sincethe broiler houses are moved to fresh grass every morning, thebroilers also have the same opportunity to choose their own diet.Both hens and broilers obviously get plenty of green material,something that would be unusual on a factory farm and they arenever given steroids or antibiotics which induce unnaturally rapidgrowth. One of the results, and also the reason why it is economicallysensible to raise animals in such a manner, is that the lifespanof a laying hen on Joel Salatin's farm is generally three yearscompared to a normal factory farm lifespan of one year.


AWI Quarterly

Farm Animals: Summer 1999

How Our Food is Produced Matters!
animal factories and their impact

by Chris Bedford

Our food supply is undergoing fundamentalchange with serious consequences for animals, our water, our healthand our nation's family farms. Today, a small group of giant agribusinesscorporations control most of our nation's poultry, beef and porkproduction. To maximize profits, these corporations have imposedfactory production processes on animals, family farmers, consumers,and the environment.

The Animal Factory System

Standardization. Animal factoriesseek to produce a uniform product with predictable costs. To thisend, animals are bred to be genetically similar and to produceas much meat, as fast as possible at as low a cost as possible.For instance, most broiler chickens come from only seven differentgenetic lines. This lack of genetic diversity makes virtuallythe entire nation's poultry supply vulnerable to an epidemic.Overbreeding also produces chickens with breasts so large thatsometimes they can't stand up, causing painful blisters and ultimatelydeath through starvation.

Concentration and confinement. Animal factories concentratethousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of animals into multipleindustrial barns. Large animals, like hogs, are kept in tightmetal cages throughout their entire lives. Industrial hog barnsare often windowless and contain as many as 4,000 hogs, confinedin metal pens built over slatted concrete floors. Factory-farmedpoultry are crowded into long industrial houses containing asmany as 25,000 birds. Hundreds of thousands of egg-laying hensspend their lives in tiny battery cages, which give each hen spaceno bigger than the piece of paper this article is printed on,stacked high in giant barns.

Contract system. Under the factory system, most farmersdo not own the animals they raise. Instead, local family farmersraise animals under a contract which requires them to providetheir labor, pay the energy and water costs and borrow the fundsto build the industrial barns and other facilities. The giantagribusiness corporations supply the animals, the feed and additives.A handful of very large corporations control the animal market.These "Big-Ag" corporations squeeze every last bit ofprofit from contract growers and the animals, forcing farmersto raise more animals for less pay under increasingly dangerousworking conditions.

Poisoning Our Water

One hog produces as much feces as four humans. North Carolina's7,000,000 factory raised hogs create four times as much waste– stored in reeking, open cesspools – as the state's6.5 million people. The Delmarva peninsula's 600 million chickensproduce 400,000 tons of manure a year; manure that contains asmuch phosphorus as the waste from a city the size of Los Angeles,and as much nitrogen as the waste from a city the size of NewYork. When this manure is inappropriately applied to land as fertilizer,as it often is, nutrients run off into waterways, poisoning wholewatersheds with excess amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus. Run-offfrom poultry and swine manure has been implicated in the outbreakof Pfiesteria piscicida, a tiny but deadly organism whichhas sickened humans and killed billions of fish along Atlanticcoastal bays.

Animal factory manure may also contain environmental estrogens.These estrogens bio-accumulate and drain into waterways, interferingwith aquatic reproductive cycles. In Israel, this run-off hasbeen implicated in the mass stetilization of fish in the Sea ofGalilee.

Risking Our Health

The animal factory system adds antibiotics and heavy metals,like arsenic and copper, to animal feed to promote rapid growthand prevent epidemic levels of disease among confined animals.Routine use of antibiotics call breed drug-resistant bacteriawhich enter our water and our food chain, threatening human health.

Young children and the elderly are particularly at risk fromthese resistant bacteria. Currently, poultry and hog corporationsfeed their animals sub-therapeutic levels of the latest generationof antibiotics, leaving human populations potentially vulnerableas a result. The US Food and Drug Administration is trying, againststrong industry resistance, to ban much of animal factory antibioticuse. Such use is already restricted in the European Union.

Animal factory production is inherently inhumane. It representsa fundamental violation of nature, with broad consequences forour physical and spiritual health. How our food is raised, matters.When living creatures are brutally transformed into factory unitsof production it desensitizes the human consciousness to the environmentand all of its inhabitants – further alienating us from thenatural processes upon which our lives depend.

We simply must abolish animal factories and pursue more sustainable,humane ways to raise our food.

Chris Bedford is the Chair of the Maryland Chapter of theSierra Club.


Niman Ranch: AWIApproved
good for the pigs, the family farmerand the community

by Diane Halverson

To help end mistreatment of farmanimals, the Animal Welfare Institute is supporting the NimanRanch Company and its network of familyhog farmers who follow humane husbandry criteria developed bythe Animal Welfare Institute. AWI's criteria require that allanimals be allowed to behave naturally. Unlike the crated sowson factory farms, the sows in the Niman Ranch program have freedomof movement, allowing them to fulfill their instinctive desireto build a nest when they are about to give birth. Unlike thefactory farm pigs housed on concrete slats over manure pits, NimanRanch pigs are raised on pasture or in barns with bedding wherethey can live in accord with their natures, rooting for food,playing and socializing. AWI's criteria require that the participantsin the program be independent family farmers, that is, the farmermust own the animals, depend on the farm for a livelihood andbe involved in the day to day physical labor of managing the pigs.This requirement helps to ensure that pigs are raised in modestnumbers, making it easier to know and manage the animals as individuals.

Niman Ranch, which buys the pigs and markets the meat, alsoforbids feeding or otherwise administering hormones or antibioticsand prohibits the feeding of animal by-products. Unlike factoryfarmers, humane farmers in the Niman Ranch program do not relyon antibiotics to mask clinical manifestations of disease or topromote growth; therefore, they do not contribute to the devastatingproblem of antibiotic resistance among humans.

Paul Willis, the farmer who inspiredAWI's involvement in the program, keeps 200 sows and their offspringon pasture or in barns bedded with straw on his Midwest farm.Niman Ranch rewards Willis, and farmers like him, by paying thema premium price. Niman Ranch products are available at 200 finerestaurants in California, at Trader Joe's stores in the West,at Whole Foods stores in northern California, and through theWilliams-Sonoma mail order catalogue. Additional markets are beingdeveloped nationwide. In a 1995 Opinion Research Corporation survey,93% of the adults surveyed believed that animals should be treatedhumanely, even when being raised for human consumption, and three-fourthsopposed confining sows in crates, laying hens in battery cagesand veal calves in crates. The Niman Ranch program gives a growingnumber of such consumers an opportunity to reject meat derivedfrom pigs raised in animal factories and assists in the preservationof humane family farms, thereby helping to set a humane standardin raising of animals for food.


COURT DEFEAT FOR CORPORATE FACTORYFARM

A St. Louis Circuit Court jury recently awarded $5.2 millionin damages to 52 rural citizens subjected to odors, flies andwaste spills from Continental Grain Company's sprawling northernMissouri hog operations. The lawsuit, in which the jury deemedContinental's facilities a "continuing public nuisance,"is one of the first in the nation where farmers and rural residentshave legally and successfully held a corporate hog factory giantaccountable for its degradation of property values and rural qualityof life.


STATE MAKES SWEETHEART DEAL WITHPSF

On July 29, declining to join forces with the DepartmentofJustice/Environmental Protection Agency and a Missouri citizen'sgroup, Missouri's Attorney General filed a consent judgement settlingall of the state's claims against Continental Grain-Premium StandardFarms, including a July 28 spill which dumped over 12,000 gallonsof shog manure into a local stream.

The sweetheart deal allows Continental Grain-Premium StandardFarm to pollute without penalty for the next three to five yearswhile it spends $12.5 to S25 million to research, develop andadopt unspecified "technology" to "reduce or eliminate"its pollution problems. The settlement does not set water or airquality standards to be met by the company.

A federal judge is expected to rule shortly on the July 22Department of Justice motion to intervene on behalf of EnvironmentalProtection Agency in the pending suit by Citizens Legal EnvironmentalAction Network against Premium Standard Farms.


AWI Quarterly Summer 1999, Vol. 38, No. 3

Alternative Farming Systems: A bibliography. 2nd part

POULTRY

Poultry farming

Beck-Chenoweth, H. Free-range poultry production & marketing: A guide to raising, processing, and marketing premium quality chicken, turkey & eggs. Back Forty Books, Creola, Ohio, 1997.
This manual gives all the details on how to raise, process and market free-range poultry and egg products. The information given is based on several production models put forth by other farmers and by the author himself, who is a full-time farmer in southeastern Ohio, living in an income-sharing community dedicated to living a simple life in harmony with nature. Herman Beck-Chenoweth produces hay, beef and dairy cows, vegetables, poultry, eggs and furniture. His birds are started in barns and are moved to pasture at 4-6 weeks. They are kept in skid houses, range around the skids, and are moved to fresh pasture in general every three to four weeks. "Our goal, is to give our birds the best life they could have, honor that life by consistently producing the best tasting, cleanest, healthiest meat or eggs we can, all the while improving our soil. If we can do all that AND make a reasonable return for our efforts, we are satisfied."
 
Beck-Chenoweth, H. Free-range, pastured poultry, chicken tractor--What's the difference? In: Free-Range Poultry. Web Site. Free-Range Poultry Production and Marketing, Creola, Ohio, 2001.
FULL-TEXT
Today there are three leading systems for producing poultry outdoors on pasture with significant differences between the systems. "Free-Range is a non-confinement system that uses a perimeter fence to deter predators. A variation of this system, known as DayRange, uses an Electronet portable fence to keep the birds safe from dogs and coyotes during daylight hours. The large-scale access to pasture combined with the low stocking rate (400 chickens or 100 turkeys per acre) allows the birds plenty of area to exercise and deposit manure.
Pastured Poultry, as researched and taught by Virginia farmer, Joel Salatin, is a confinement system with a grass floor, using portable pens approximately 8 x 10 feet in size. The pens, each containing about 80 chickens, are moved by hand and must be moved twice daily.
A third system, the Chicken Tractor was developed by Andy Lee and is a useful system for raising 50 or so birds for home use. By placing these pens in the garden, soil is tilled and manure can be placed exactly where desired. This is not a commercial sized system, and is also a confinement system. A recent refinement of the Chicken Tractor is the addition of a pop-hole door to allow the birds to range at least part of the day."

Beck-Chenoweth, H. Free-Range Poultry. Web Site. Free-Range Poultry Production and Marketing, Creola, Ohio, 2001.
WEB SITE
Free-range essentials and a production budget are given. The three systems of producing poultry outdoors on pasture are compared.

Berton, V. and Mudd, D. Profitable Poultry: Raising Birds on Pasture. USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), Washington, DC, 2001.
FULL-TEXT
This bulletin features farmer experiences plus the latest research in a new "how-to" guide to raising chickens and turkeys using pens, movable fencing and pastures. With examples from farms from all over the country it touches on the system's many opportunities to improve profits, environment and rural family life. Poultry system options, many of them outdoors, that raise chickens for greater profit with less environmental impact and better conditions for the birds, are examined and alternative poultry systems such as pastured poultry pens, day range, yarding, chicken tractor and free-range are described. The bulletin also covers potential for profit, production basics, environmental benefits, quality of life and marketing options. This document provides an excellent comprehensive overview of alternative poultry farming with many color photos.
 
Bowman, G. 'This is real chicken' : Iowa farm women forge links with thankful consumers. The New Farm; 15(6), Sept/Oct 1993.
The members of Homestead Pride Poultry Cooperative raise chickens on non-medicated feed in existing outbuildings that give the birds plenty of room to run. Farm-raised broilers are a viable alternative, when costs are kept low by selling directly to consumers. Co-op members do everything except hatching chicks and processing.
 
Buckels, C.G. Midwest poultry producers share success stories. Small Farm Today;30-32, May 2003.
Tim and Julie Walker raise pastured poultry (turkeys and chickens) at Greystone Farm in Fayette, Missouri. The birds all roam outside, protected by fenced pastures and portable shelters. Pastured poultry pens did not work on uneven ground, so the Walkers adapted another system which combines open range and pasture with portable shelters. The Walkers move the shelter three times per week so the chickens have access to fresh grass. The chickens range inside the electrified netting fence where they are protected from predators. Their turkeys are free-range birds, but they are penned up at night in a roosting shelter. The Walkers have built a new hen house with a waste-lime floor with mulch on top and nest boxes down the center. For this hen house, instead of using a portable shelter system, the Walkers are creating eight paddocks which the chickens can enter through hinged doors called pop holes on sides of the hen house. This permanent building with runs is much more effective on their hilly uneven ground.
 
Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. Large-Scale Pastured Poultry Farming in the U.S. Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS), UW-Madison, Madison, WI, 2001.
FULL-TEXT
Results of a survey involving 9 producers raising at least 4,000 pastured chickens per year across the U.S. First all nine raised their chickens in 10' by 12' pens, moving them at least once a day. Five of the producers switched to a day range system to reduce labor. The chickens are allowed free range inside a fenced paddock during the day and are enclosed in a weather-tight and predator-proof shelter at night. The greenhouse-type buildings that house the chickens are moved about once a week and electrified netting is moved daily around the greenhouse to rotate pastures. Questions relating to labor, marketing and income are addressed.
 
Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. Pastured poultry study addresses broad range of issues. Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS), UW-Madison, Madison, WI, 2000.
FULL-TEXT
This research brief is a summary of the pastured poultry study. 'Five diversified farms in Wisconsin and Minnesota are providing the data for the study. Diane Kaufmann, a pastured poultry farmer from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and one of the producers participating in the study, says: "I see the pastured poultry model as a farming method that requires low investment, with labor that can be provided by almost anyone, and provides a healthy life for the bird and the person who consumes it."
 
Cicero, K. Homes on the range: Portable poultry pens are proliferating. The New Farm; 17(4):13, May/June 1995.
Tips for building portable pens for pasturing poultry.
 
Cramer, C. Pastured poultry resources . In: Cramer, C., Sustainable Farming Connection: Where farmers find and share information. Web site. Committee for Sustainable Farm Publishing, © 1997.
WEB SITE
This page lists various resources: a pasture poultry discussion group to share tips with other pasture poultry producers; a quarterly newsletter published by the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association, sharing information on production practices, processing equipment, marketing, legal issues, and more; books, guides and information packages, press releases, new equipment, and additional sites.

Plamondon, R. Range Poultry Housing. ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas), Fayetteville, Ark., Apr. 1999.
FULL-TEXT
Pastured poultry field pens: In this system, birds are housed in a field pen that is moved daily to fresh pasture. Seventy-five to one hundred chicks (two to four weeks old) are placed in 10'x12'x2'pens. Since the pen is floorless, the birds are able to forage on plants, seeds, insects, and worms in addition to their concentrate feed. Water must be provided. Some producers use a field pen, yet open it during the day to give the chickens free range. Others provide access to a portable corral. It may not be necessary to move the field pen daily if this method is used.
Free-range colony housing: In this production system, birds are housed at night for protection and released during the day. Housing can be more substantial than a field pen since it is not moved daily by hand–the housing is towed (by tractor, pick-up, or horse) every week or so to prevent wear on the pasture. Beck-Chenoweth uses a shelter on skids enclosed with chicken wire with litter-covered floors, tarp-covered gable roofs, and doors on both ends. The only fencing required is perimeter fencing to deter daytime predators such as dogs.
Semi-fixed or fixed housing: The traditional "yard and coop" system is one that most people are familiar with. If stocking density is low and birds are allowed to roam freely during the day, this can be a simple system.

Fanatico, A. Sustainable Poultry: Production Overview. ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas), Fayetteville, Ark., March 2002.
FULL-TEXT
"This publication provides information on raising poultry on pasture, including descriptions of production systems and facilities, as well as detailed nuts-and-bolts information."
The following operations are described:
  •   semi-intensive (chickens in semi-intensive operations are raised in non-moveable buildings with access to outdoor grazing in pens that are used in rotation.)
  • "yard and coop" (Some producers let chickens, mainly layers, roam the farm at will, shutting them up at night to protect against predators.)
  • field pen: pastured poultry (Broilers are pastured in floorless pens, which are moved daily to fresh pasture.)
  • net range or day range (Net-range uses portable net fencing around a house to make multiple yards.)
  • free-range ("Free-range" refers to operations using non-contained access to pasture and moveable housing such as the eggmobile or skids.)
  • colony production system (uses multiple small roosting houses scattered on pasture)
Most of these models feature access to pasture but with modifications.
 
Fanatico, A., compiler. Pastured Poultry: A Heifer Project International Case Study Booklet. National Center for Appropriate Technology, Little Rock, AR, 2000.
FULL-TEXT
This booklet summarizes the experiences of 35 Southern farm families who from 1996-1999 participated in a project titled "Integrating Pastured Poultry into the Farming Systems of Limited Resource Farmers." Introduction to pastured poultry, farmers' experiences and guidelines on how to raise poultry on pasture are available on the site. Highlighted are brooding, pen construction, weather, pasture management, feeding, mortality, processing, marketing, labor and earnings, and quality of life.
 
Geissal, D. Free-range poultry. Small Farm Today; 13(3):20-21, June 1996.
The organic or natural market is an ideal niche for small farmers. Consumers are becoming concerned about the lack of a normal llife for factory birds, or the way chickens are pumped full of antibiotics and hormones. Birds, and eggs from birds raised on pasture, free of antibiotics and hormones can be sold at a premium price. The author gives advice on how to start chickens on pasture. She has solved the predator problem by having Great Pyrenees dogs on the farm.
 
Klober, K. Sustainable poultry for pasture. Small Farm Today; 15(2):21-22, Apr/May 1998.
The author suggests developping one's own strain of broilers for pasture, using crosses of two different pure breeds, rather than using the Cornish-X broiler that is a high performance bird, whose needs are not being met on pastureland. A purebred breeding flock to produce home-raised broilers can be begun on nearly any small farm. Suggestions and advice are given.

Kuit, A.R., Ehlhardt, D.A., and Blokhuis, H.J., eds. Alternative improved housing systems for poultry: Proceedings of a seminar in the Community programme for the coordination of agricultural research, held at the Spelderholt Centre for Poultry Research and Extension, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Netherlands, Directorate of Agricultural Research, Beekbergen, 17 and 18 May 1988. Commission of the European Communities. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg, 1989.
The seminar primarily makes an inventory and a comparison of the housing systems that have been developed in European countries, as a result of consumer concern about the well-being of poultry. The seminar focuses on animal welfare research, inventory of systems developed, welfare and utilization of space in new housing systems, zootechnical and economical aspects of alternative housing systems for poultry.
 
Lee, A. and Foreman, P. Day Range Poultry: Every Chicken Owner's Guide to Grazing Gardens and Improving Pastures. Good Earth Publications, Buena Vista, VA, 2001.
Information about raising poultry on pasture from egg to processing. "In the day range system, the poultry are sheltered at night in mini-barns or portable units that have floors with deep bedding. The floor and bedding that keep the birds warm and dry during wet and cold weather. The birds are protected from predators and weather, and allowed to graze in the daytime inside temporary paddocks that are fenced with portable, electric poultry netting. The netting keeps the poultry in, and the predators out... The area for poultry to graze is moved regularly by repositioning the poultry netting. This eliminates over-grazing, and gives the poultry continual access to fresh, growing pasture."
 
Nick, J. Getting started with pastured chickens. Part I; Part II; Part III. The New Farm, 2005.
PART I: Or... how 6 chickens became 300 in just a year, and launched an organic egg business for two novices. Chock full of resources, links, hard-earned lessons and practical advice for novice poultry people.
PART II: Down to the details. From housing options to choosing a breed to organic certification to picking out a proud papa, Jean covers the first series of decisions you'll need to make as you launch head-first into raising our feathered friends.
PART III: In her third and final installment, Jean Nick outlines the basics of watering and feeding. She also tells you how to set up nest boxes, manage the chickens in winter and even how to insure your chickens get their essential dust bath.
 
Riddle, J. Alpine chicken tour. The New Farm (Web Site). Rodale Institute, 2003.
FULL-TEXT
"A photo tour of a Swiss organic poultry farm, with a detailed look at innovative production techniques": 'None of Mr. Dieters laying hens are de-beaked. Pecking is prevented through a variety of strategies. The house and outdoor areas are subdivided into units of 500 birds. There are equal numbers of brown and white breeds, breaking up the pecking order. There are a few roosters in each flock. Birds are given plenty of space, both indoors and out. They are provided with a variety of roosts and activities to satisfy their natural behavior. They are provided a balanced ration, ensuring that they have plenty of protein. The building is well ventilated, with excellent air quality.'
 
Salatin, J. Pastured poultry profits. Polyface, Swoope, Va., © 1993.
"In this book a proven production model is described, which is capable of producing an income from a small acreage equal or superior to that of most off-farm jobs. Salatin keeps his broilers in 2 foot tall pens that are moved over fresh grass every morning and his layers free-range around a portable hen house called an eggmobile. The book gives details about getting started, choosing a breed, starting the chicks, ration, the pasture, processing, problems, marketing, possibilities. "Pasturing allows chickens to be grown without damaging substances. Out on pasture, with fresh air, sunshine, green material and wholesome feed, broilers will outperform their factory counterparts in every way. ... They will possess a superior taste. That makes them easy to sell and easy to eat. It allows competitive production costs, all the while producing a more nutritious, clean product." Not only are his chickens healthier but they are also happier. "The long term benefits for society are greater because we are treating our animals better. But we don't do it for business reasons. We do it because it's right." says Salatin.
 
Thear, K. Free-Range Poultry. Farming Press, 1997, 2nd ed.
Practical and comprehensive guide to the free-range management of chickens. Every aspect of poultry husbandry is covered, including non-intensive systems, both small scale and larger scale; chapters on equipment, land management, breeds, nutrition, egg quality, table poultry, breeding, rearing, health, and marketing.
 
Traupman, M. Profitable poultry on pasture. The New Farm; 12(4):20, 23, May/June 1990.
FULL-TEXT
Broiler and layers follow beef cattle in this rotation. On Salatin's Polyface Farm, 50 head of beef graze pasture first. Controlled by portable electric fences, the cattle leave a trail of manure and 4 to 5 inches of grass stubble in their wake. Four days after the cattle chow down on the grass, the chickens are put on that pasture to clean up after them. Both the layers and broilers love to pick through fresh manure for insects, and undigested food particles. Salatin keeps his broilers in movable pens and his layers free-range around a portable hen house called an eggmobile. Pasturing has cut Salatin's feed expenses up to an estimated 60 percent on layers and 30 percent on broilers. Also, the boilers reach market weight two weeks earlier than normal.

Marketing

Fanatico, A. and Born, H. Label Rouge: Pasture-Based Poultry Production in France. ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas), Fayetteville, Ark., Nov. 2002.
FULL-TEXT
"Pasture-raised poultry is increasingly popular in the U.S. American farmers and small companies can benefit from studying the French Label Rouge program. Started as a grassroots movement and now commanding 30% of the French poultry market, it has helped boost incomes for small farmers... This program provides premium products to consumers, increases farmer income, and strengthens rural development. It consists of many regional producer-oriented alliances, called filieres, which produce and market their own branded products under a common label. A third-party certification program ensures that strict standards are being followed." All birds have access to range and their feed is non-medicated. See one example at http://www.fermiers-landais.fr/anglais/elevage.htm
 
Good Natured Family Farms
A Cooperative in central and southeast Kansas and west central Missouri, selling all natural beef, now also sell eggs. To qualify for membership, a producer must be a small family farm, raise hens free ranged without hormones or subtherapeutic antibiotics.
 
NC SARE Office. Pastured poultry, co-op style. Field Notes. NC SARE Quarterly Fact Sheet; May 1999.
FULL-TEXT
Nebraska farmer David Bosle got inspired by Joel Salatin's book on how to raise chickens naturally on pasture, but he expanded on Salatin's example by buying and processing birds cooperatively with other Nebraska producers. This fact sheet profiles Bosle's model. His system "mirrors Salatin's in supporting local economies, clean environments, profitable farms and satisfied poultry consumers. But Bosle's collective enterprise adds a cost-share twist while meeting a high demand for pastured poultry." "There is a huge, untapped market for pastured poultry in Nebraska", says Cris Carusi, executive director of the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society." Lots of people remember what farm-raised chicken tastes like, and they jump at the chance to serve that kind of quality to their families."
 
Organic Valley Family of Farms. Web Site. 1999-2002
WEB SITE
Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative members number over 190 small to mid sized family farms in 10 states. The purpose of CROPP Cooperative is to give market support for sustainable agricultural practices that are beneficial to the environment thus providing consumers with quality products. All animals must receive adequate access to fresh air and sunlight. Cattle are pastured in certified organic fields, chickens are free roaming with outdoor access, and hogs are not confined and are allowed to pasture. Livestock is considered an essential component of a healthy sustainable agricultural system. Careful handling of waste material recycles nutrients back to the earth to grow the grasses and feed while protecting natural waterways. Hormones, like rBGH, or antibiotics are never used in production. The products are certified organic by Oregon Tilth.

CATTLE

 Dairy farming, Beef farming

Farmers' experience and Farms' profiles

Acres USA staff. Reinventing dairy: Organics and innovation give consumers real milk. Acres USA; 34(5):8-9, May 2004.
WEB SITE
The focal farm for this report, Organic Pastures Dairy Company, is California's first certified pasture-grazed raw-milk dairy. Mark McAfee created a dairy unlike any other in North America. One of its features is a mobile milking barn. It is mobile enough to reach docking spots that exempt cows from long walks to a milking barn from whichever pasture they happen to be grazing that day. The unit weighs a little more than a Cadillac car, has its own chiller, milk pump, generator, everything required to keep the milk pure and fresh. "We do not ever have pathogens in our milk." This is quite unusual for raw milk producers. 'What's happening here?" "when you stop giving your cows antibiotics, you stop killing off the beneficial bacteria that reside in the rumen and intestine. As a result you stop causing the physiological stresses that produce pathogens," was McAfee's response. "Our customers refuse to drink pasteurized milk because of the fact that none of the enzymes are alive," McAfee said.
 
Bowman, G. Pasture proving ground: this grazier puts tools and techniques to the test. The New Farm; 16(4):19-20, 22, 24-25, May/June 1994.
FULL-TEXT
Ed Rits from Honey Grove, Pennsylvania rotated pastures when he was a dairyman, but he didn't see the potential of intensively managed grass until he switched to raising beef cattle. He learnt to manage his land resource and started farmer-to-farmer consulting work to help farmers get started with grazing. In this article he gives advice to beginning farmers. He thinks it is important for farmers to help each other. ”Unless you meet with others who are going in the same direction, you lose enthusiasm, because you think you are the only one doing it.“
 
Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. An organic dairying overview from the Krusenbaum farm studies. Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS), UW-Madison, Madison, WI, 1999.
FULL-TEXT
The Krusenbaums have been working to make low-input organic dairy farming a viable, profitable alternative to conventional dairying. They have fully adopted intensive rotational grazing from May through October. In the winter, the animals are fed round bale silage on pasture. The Krusenbaums have also made another big switch in herd management by moving to seasonal dairying.
 
Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. Why make the transition to grazing. Wisconsin farmers share their perspectives. Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS), UW-Madison, Madison, WI, 1999.
FULL-TEXT
In 1994 and 1995, CIAS conducted case studies with six Wisconsin dairy farming families who've adopted management intensive rotational grazing practices. This is a summary of their reasons for grazing, their sources of management information, their advice to beginning graziers, and how they got started.
 
Cramer, C. 'Grass farming' beats corn and keeps 800 milkers productive and profitable. The New Farm; 12(6):10-16, Sept/Oct 1990.
FULL-TEXT
Charles Opitz's herd perennially ranks among the largest two of three in the state of Wisconsin. Seven to eight months of the year, intensively grazed pastures supply the bulk of the feed for his 600 to 800 milkers and 1,200 dry stock and heifers. "Grass farming solves 99 percent of the problems LISA (low-input sustainable agriculture) is trying to deal with. It not only stops erosion and silting, but it also eliminates 99 percent of the herbicides and insecticides." he says. Early spring management is critical.
 
Cramer, C. Pastures beat BGH! Farmers, consumers and rural communities all win with rotational grazing, says this new study. The New Farm; 13(5):18-20, 22, July/Aug. 1991.
FULL-TEXT
"With rotational grazing, cows harvest their own high-quality feed from intensively managed pastures near milking facilities. Fencing is used to parcel out forage in small sections (called paddocks). Cows are moved to fresh forage at its nutritional peak as often as twice a day. Surplus forage is harvested for winter feed, deferred for grazing later in the season, or stockpiled in the field for early spring grazing. Less grain and fewer supplements need to be grown or bought, fed and then hauled away as manure. Fresh air and exercise help keep cows healthy. The benefits of pasture are low-cost fee; healthy cows; less pollution; low costs for equipment, energy and facilities; less labor; profitable for small and large herds; inspires consumer confidence as opposed to BGH with high-cost rations; stressed cows; pollution potential from cropping, manure storage; high costs for equipment, energy and facilities; labor to inject cows, manage herd health; risky for small farms; consumers are skeptical."
 
Cramer, C. Put water where you want it: a mobile tank increases your pasture-management options. The New Farm; 16(4):55, May/June 1994.
FULL-TEXT
Mike Reicherst from New Hampton, Iowa built a mobile waterer and mineral feeder for his 72 stockers for less that $900. "I wanted a simple, portable system that can handle a lot of animals without having to refill it very often."
 
Emmick, D.L. ABCs of rotational grazing. The New Farm; 13(5):16-28, July/Aug 1991.
FULL-TEXT
A grazing specialist answers beginning grass farmers' most-asked questions.
 
Forgey, D. and Forgey, H. How-to advice from Indiana's pioneering seasonal dairy grazier. In: Cramer, C., Sustainable Farming Connection: Where farmers find and share information. Web site. Committee for Sustainable Farm Publishing, © 1997.
FULL-TEXT
"David and Helen Forgey run a 150-cow dairy in Logansport, Ind. David was one of the first in his area to adopt rotational grazing, and soon converted his herd to seasonal breeding, freshening in spring to take advantage of peak pasture production. He's shared his experiences with graziers at meetings and conferences around the country." The following full-text articles can be found on this site: The Why's and How's of Seasonal Dairying; Grazing Basics; How Plants Grow; Managing Drought; Coping With Heat And Humidity; Water for the Grazing System; Winter Feeding Under a Breakwire; Keep It Simple; and more.
Grassfarmer.com. Cove Mt. Farm. American Farmland Trust, 1998.
FULL-TEXT
"Cove Mt. Farm, the American Farmland Trust's grass-based dairy in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, is now in its second year of operation; 90-100 cows are rotationally grazed on 200 acres of pasture and milked in New Zealand-style herringbone "swing" parlor. AFT uses the facility as a demonstration site to help other farmers and landowners learn about the economic and environmental benefits of grass-based livestock management systems.
 
Grassfarmer.com. Ti-Lin Holsteins- Titus and Linda Martin's grass-based dairy operation located in Fayetteville, Pennsylvania. A virtual farm tour. American Farmland Trust, 1998.
FULL-TEXT
"Titus and Linda Martin operate Ti-Lin Holsteins in Fayetteville, Pennsylvania. They have been farming there since 1988 on 123 rented acres. The Martins began grazing in 1993 and today the farm has 60 acres of pasture, 30 acres of alfalfa and 33 acres of corn."
 
Hawkins, S. and Huntrods, R. Getting Water From Here to There - True Stories . Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana, 2001.
FULL-TEXT
"Delivering clean water in the needed volume per day to Management Intensive Grazing (MIG) systems can be a challenge. Each situation should be analyzed to determine which methods of pumping and delivery could be used to insure that water is not a limiting factor during grazing." Tips and examples of farms are given.
 
Kleinschmit, M. and Kilde, R.S. Can Smaller Be Better? A Comparison of Grass-Based and Conventional Dairy Farming . Center for Rural Affairs//North Central Initiative for Small Farm Profitability, Lincoln, NE, 2002.
FULL-TEXT
"Making a change from a conventional dairy to a management intensive grass-based one lets this Nebraska farmer run a profitable operation milking 90 cows. This manageably-sized farm provides a viable alternative to the large-scale confinement model."
 
Liebhardt, W.C. Farmer experience with rotational grazing: A case study approach. In: Liebhardt, W.C., ed. The dairy debate: Consequences of bovine growth hormone and rotational grazing technologies. University of California. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, Davis, CA, pp. 131-188, © 1993.
Case studies are presented that document the use of rotational grazing on actual working farms, primarily in the upper midwestern and northeastern United States. The documentation and analysis of these farms show that this method reduces the cost/price squeeze felt by many dairy farmers, and in some cases increases production and reduces farmer labor while protecting the environment, and it helps make dairy operations "a lot more fun." For some farmers, the system of rotational grazing has done the following: increased production up to 66%; decreased feed cost per hundredweight (cwt) by as much as 36%; saved up to $18 per cow per month in grazing season, $270 per year per cow in some cases; cut costs and allowed bigger profits in difficult years by trimming feed and machinery operating expenses; increased days in milk production by as much as 15 %; reduced labor costs; increased herd health; improved lifestyle, to name only a few.
 
McCartney, D. and McCartney, L. McCartney's Grass-Based Dairy Operation. Planning and Managing a Seasonal Dairy. Grassfarmer.com, 1999.
FULL-TEXT [scroll down]
"Despite the challenges of becoming and staying a seasonal dairy operation, we feel the effort has been very much worth the benefits gained. Every thing on our farm has a season, a beginning and an end. The busy spring workload of all the cows fresh and all the calves on milk only lasts for 6 to 8 weeks and it's over, no more calves for the rest of the year. The focus of the breeding season only lasts for a few weeks, and it's overno more cows to breed. Our schedule becomes more predictable; the cows work for us, not us working for them. While there are periods of very long days and hard work, there are also extended periods of time when the workload is very light. A thirty-hour workweek is not impossible in the late summer months and the two months off during the winter is a welcome and needed break." Tips are given on: 1) Group Calf Rearing ; 2) Breeding Management ; 3) Field Crop Planning; 4) Financial Management.
 
McNamara, K. Their cows do the harvesting. That keeps costs low and production high. The New Farm; 12(6):22-23, Sept/Oct 1990.
FULL-TEXT
Located in the hills of southwestern Wisconsin, Dan and Jeanne Patenaude's farm has 73 acres 27 tillable, 20 in permanent pasture and the rest wooded. At the heart of its operation is an intensive rotational grazing system which has developed over a period of years. Dan is now using movable fencing to create paddocks as needed. The size of the paddock is determined by the number of animals and the condition of the forage. His milk cows are given fresh pastures after one or two milkings; after they leave, dry cows and heifers are put into the same paddock to clean up. The moving of the fence is light work and usually a pleasant chore.

Meudt, J., Bobbe, J., and Dietmann, P., compilers. The grass in greener: Dairy graziers tell their stories. Wisconsin Rural Development Center, Mt. Horeb, Wis., 1995.
These are the stories of Wisconsin and Minnesota farmers who turned to intensive rotational grazing. The farmers share what they have learned and can pass on to others. As one farmer puts it: "Grazing made farming fun again." They give advice on grasses and feeding, breeds, pasture management and efficient use of forage, transition to seasonal milking, building parlors to cut milking time, turning organic. They share the many benefits they have experienced in their own words. "The efficient use of forage is the primary benefit of grazing. The cow is perfectly willing to do the harvesting and spread manure for less cost than it takes with machinery. There is tremendous amount of joy in driving out of the yard at 7:30 in the evening and seeing our herd of Jerseys in the pasture. That's what life is. You' re not going to get rich doing this, so you sure better enjoy it," says Mike Cannell from Cazenovia, Wis. Excerpt online: Farmers and researchers find common ground with faith and patience.
 
Miller, L. Grass-based dairies hold promise for southern Iowa producers. Leopold Letter; 15(2) Summer 2003.
FULL-TEXT
"A Leopold Center-funded project that followed 15 young or beginning dairy operators over the past two years shows promise for grass-based dairies in southern Iowa as well as economic benefits for rural communities."
 
Miller, L. Rotational grazing: Options keep farm running when water doesn't. Leopold Letter; 12(2) Summer 2000.
FULL-TEXT
'Bradford grazes 500 cows on about 1,300 acres, and raises corn on 150 acres for feed. Nearly 160 acres has been divided into smaller paddocks for a rotational grazing system in which livestock are moved every four to five days, depending on forage growth. "It's amazing that in the dry years you are ahead with rotational grazing because this system is easier on forage," Bradford explained. "By moving livestock every few days, the plants get the rest and recovery they need, which really helps plant viability."'
 
Moonstone Farm. Natural Beef. Web Site. Land Stewardship Project.
WEB SITE
"Since 1992 cattle at Moonstone have been selected from a hardy, crossbred lineage and raised on our "salad bar" pastures. During the grazing season they are moved onto fresh forages every few days to insure optimum nutrition and animal health. Our animals are raised without growth promotants, hormone implants, antibiotics or medicated feeds. "
 
Shafer, D. Natural grazing Super-natural benefits: 'Modern prairie' boosts pasture production. The New Farm; 14(4):14-16, 18-20, May/June 1992.
FULL-TEXT
David Schafer and Alice Dobbs from Trenton, Mo. converted their cropland to pasture in the mid-eighties, and started managing their livestock and forages more like the prairie ecosystem that once grew there. "The difference has been a leap in biodiversity (especially legumes and other desirable species), a longer grazing season and thicker forage stands. Healthier forages have improved soil structure and water retention, reducing erosion and making our farm less susceptible to drought. Our livestock are healthier and happier too. We have 70 purebred Gelbvieh cows and run up to 40 stockers and 300 sheep on about 350 acres of pasture. That's about 50 percent more stock than we carried before we subdivided pastures and intensified our management."
 
Shirley, C. Less milk, more profit: Organic feed and rotational grazing keep this dairy green. The New Farm; 13(6):13-17, Sept/Oct. 1991.
FULL-TEXT
By relying on rotational grazing, seasonal milking and feeds grown without purchased herbicides or fertilizers, Carl Pulvermacher figures cost reductions will offset lower production. He milks 55 cows in south-west Wisconsin on his 220-acre dairy, which became certified-organic in '88. For six months of the year, the milking herd is out foraging. In mid-April, they start rotating through alfalfa/bluegrass/orchardgrass pasture divided into 16 paddocks. Portable polywire lets Pulvermacher move the herd to the next paddock in 5 to 10 minutes.
 
Trantham, T. Twelve Aprils Dairying. Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE), 2000.
FULL-TEXT
"Tom Trantham listens to cows. He's been listening and watching them ever since the day they broke out of their pasture and changed his life. It was April, 1989, and the Trantham dairy was going broke fast. Then one day the milkers pushed through the confinement feeding area into a seven-acre field full of natural lush April growth--lamb's quarters, rye grass, a little clover and fescue. At the next milk pickup there was a two-pound average increase per cow. At 92 cows, that was 184 extra pounds from grazing a field that had been scheduled for chemical burndown and planting in sorghum for silage. Thinking maybe the cows were trying to tell him something, Tom opened all the gates on his farm and began experimenting with grazing." This on-line manual gives an outline of his grazing program and addresses the most often asked questions about his system.
 
Welsh, R. Rotational grazing: A farm profile. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture; 8(1):35-45, 1996.
Kevin and Lisa Engelbert from New York State have implemented rotational grazing on their dairy farm to improve sustainability. Kevin and Lisa depend on 52 acres of intensively grazed pasture as the primary feed source for the cows. They also plant 95 acres of alfalfa to supplement the pasture and provide feed for the winter months. The profile provides an overview of the farm. Details are given on pasture management, fencing, water management, economics of the switch to rotational grazing, economic comparison before and after transition to rotational grazing.
 
Winsten, J.R. and Petrucci, B.T. Seasonal dairy grazing: A viable alternative for the 21st century. A case study of six successful dairy farms using seasonal calving and management-intensive grazing. Grassfarmer.Com . American Farmland Trust, Washington, DC, pp. October 2000.
FULL-TEXT
"Over the last decade a promising alternative to large-scale confinement dairies has emerged that is being adopted by farmers in many parts of the United States. Seasonal dairy grazing is a production system that utilizes management-intensive grazing (MIG) in conjunction with a spring calving schedule. The fundamental idea is to match the nutrient requirements of the dairy herd with the growth cycle of pasture forages. With seasonal dairy grazing, operating and overhead costs can be kept quite low, and well within the means of most farmers. Dairy grazing, when combined with a seasonal calving schedule, has the potential to become a very powerful tool for farmland protection and the revitalization of rural communities in many regions of the United States. In an attempt to increase recognition for seasonal dairy grazing as a viable expansion alternative for farmers in the northeast and Midwest states, this report contains actual detailed information describing six farms that successfully use the system."

Guides and Research Papers

AWI staff. AWI's standards for cattle and sheep put other criteria out to pasture. AWI Quarterly; 54(1):6, 2005 .
FULL-TEXT
AWI's standards for cattle ensure cattle can graze, exercise, access shade and rest at will and prohibit them from being restrained in close quarters on bare ground without shade or wind breaks, hot-iron branded, implanted with hormones, treated routinely with antibiotics or fed a high-grain diet or questionable feed ingredients.
 
Beaver, J.M. and Olson, B.E. Winter range use by cattle of different ages in southwestern Montana. Applied Animal Behaviour Science; 51(1-2):1-13, 1997.
"During two winters, we compared the use of winter range by young (3-year-old) cattle that had no experience on winter range with mature (7- to 8-year-old) cattle that had experience on winter range. The 3-year-old cattle used unprotected areas more frequently than the 7- to 8-year-old cattle, and were in areas where the standard operative temperature was below their lower critical temperature more often than the older cattle. When grazing in unprotected areas, 7- to 8-year-old cattle used areas with higher standing crops than what was available, on average, in those areas. The 3-year-old cattle lost more backfat and weight than the older cattle. Apparently, 3-year-old cattle were less efficient at using the pasture's forage and thermal resources than 7- to 8-year-old cattle, and were presumably cold-stressed more often."
 
Beetz, A. Grass-based and seasonal dairying. ATTRA, Fayetteville, Ark., Dec. 1998.
FULL-TEXT
Grass-based dairies differ from confinement dairies because cows harvest their own feed, reducing the need for costly supplemental feed and other purchased supplies. Such dairies use skilled management and controlled rotational grazing. It is a challenge to offer dairy quality forages for the entire grazing season and supplement this forage diet for optimal milk production and profitability. Some graziers are taking the next step to seasonal dairying. They choose to dry off the whole herd at once, thus earning a vacation from all milking. However, management is even more difficult in such a system. Many graziers report improved health when cows are on pasture most of the year. Special equipment for fencing and water systems has been developed and is increasingly available. Additional resources are listed.
 
Beetz, A.E. Rotational grazing. ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas), April 1999.
FULL-TEXT
"A profitable livestock operation can be built around animals harvesting their own feed. The livestock are moved to the forage during its peak production periods. Producers learn to manage the pasture as an important crop in itself; the animals provide a way to market it. Reduced feed and equipment costs and improved animal health will result from choosing a species well-suited to existing pasture and environmental conditions." This publication discusses various aspects of MIRG (Management Intensive Rotational Grazing) including choosing a grazing system; making the change; fencing and water systems; managing forage growth; seasonal adjustments; additional information sources; and a list of online discussion groups.
 
Beetz, A. Sustainable Pasture Management. ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas), Fayetteville, Ark., Oct. 2001.
FULL-TEXT
This publication offers information on renovating pastures vs. establishing new ones; planning and goal-setting; choosing a grazing system; managing fertility; changes in the plant community; conserved forages vs. grazing; trees in pasture systems; managing weeds; maintaining the pasture.
 
Booth, G. It's far deeper than machinery: Intensive rotational grazing on the Molitor Farm. Greenbook 1999. Energy and Sustainable Agriculture Program. Minnesota Department of Agriculture, St. Paul, Minn., pp. 1999.
FULL-TEXT
"On conventional dairy farms, farmers produce forage for their cows. Commercial fertilizers and herbicides help produce the feed. But with intensive rotational grazing (IRG), inputs are reduced. Cattle are rotated between relatively small paddocks, naturally controlling weeds and fertilizing with manure. Molitor lets the cows make hay for half the year, leaving him time to put up quality feed for the remaining half year, as well as concentrate on other projects. It's a matter of matching feed and practices to the animals, Molitor says. 'Have confidence in the grass. If you're going to do it, believe in it.'"
 
Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. Dairy grazing can provide good financial return. Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS), UW-Madison, Madison, WI, 2000.
FULL-TEXT
Financial success is possible for operations set up as management intensive rotational grazing (MIRG) dairy farms and for confinement dairy farms that transition to grazing. But managing farm resources efficiently is the key to top financial performance on MIRG dairy farms, just like on confinement dairies.
 
Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. Livestock production and marketing. Web site. Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS), UW-Madison, Madison, WI, 2000.
WEB SITE
The Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) is a small sustainable agriculture research center at UW-Madison. Overview of livestock programs: The grazing dairy systems program emphasizes economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable, grass-based farming systems. Furthermore, CIAS is conducting a three year investigation of the potential contribution of pastured poultry systems to small and mid-size farms in the upper Midwest.
 
Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems . Milk production and quality of pastured cows rival confinement feeding. Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS), UW-Madison, Madison, WI, 1998.
FULL-TEXT
"Pastured Holstein cows are as productive as their haylage-fed counterparts in an Arlington Agricultural Research Station study. The study is comparing milk production and fat and protein composition in intensive, rotational grazing systems and a conventional stored-feeding system. Researchers are also evaluating yield, quality and persistence of forages on pure alfalfa and mixed grass/legume pastures." Overview of the project is presented.
 
Campbell, D. The economic and social viability of rural communities: BGH vs. rotational grazing. In: Liebhardt, W.C., ed. The dairy debate: Consequences of bovine growth hormone and rotational grazing technologies. University of California. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, Davis, CA, pp. 277-316, ©1993.
This paper considers the implications of rBH and rotational grazing for the economic and social viability of rural communities. It examines the impact of these technologies on animal health, food safety, the environment and consumers. "There are good reasons for farmers and society to consider other alternatives to bGH. The evidence reviewed here strongly suggests that policies supporting bGH threaten the economic and social fortunes of family farms and rural communities, particularly in certain dairy-dependent areas of the Midwest. By contrast, there is growing evidence that rotational grazing may be economically competitive for dairy farmers and more beneficial for rural communities....Advocates of community-based economic development strategies are often dismissed as naive or utopian. But which is more utopian: a strategy that enriches a few corporations but leaves the public footing the bill and communities in decline, or a strategy that builds on the strengths of existing communities to provide greater rural self-reliance and less dependence on purchases inputs and government subsidies?... In the final analysis, the issue posed by bGH is not merely what it will do to rural communities, but what kind of community we wish to be."
 

Dorsey, J., Dansingburg, J., and Ness, R. Managed grazing as an alternative manure management strategy. Managing manure in harmony with the environment and society. Proceedings of a conference held Feb. 10-12, 1998 at Ames, Iowa; 1998.
FULL-TEXT
"Managed grazing, also called rotational grazing or management intensive grazing, is a method of milk and meat production that utilizes the natural ability of cattle and other livestock to harvest their own feed directly from pastures, spreading their own manure on the same fields as they graze. Managed grazing systems utilize from a few to several dozen fenced-in paddocks to confine livestock to a restricted area for a limited length of time, usually a few hours to several days. Farmers attempt to design their system of paddocks to balance several key factors including the amount and quality of forage available, the number and type of animals, and nutritional needs. In 1993 several farm families making the transition to managed grazing asked the Minnesota-based Land Stewardship Project (LSP) and the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) to help them develop methods for monitoring the impacts of managed grazing systems."

Fanatico, A., Morrow, R., and Wells, A. Sustainable beef production. ATTRA, Fayetteville, Ark., Aug. 1999.
FULL-TEXT
Sustainable beef production uses a whole-system approach of resource management to meet the goals of the ranch. Optimizing the use of pasture while reducing feed grain and harvested forage lowers inputs and is ecologically sound. A rotational grazing system results in more efficient use of pasture. Since pastured livestock harvest the feed themselves, inputs of machinery and energy are reduced because there is less need to harvest mechanically. Less capital is needed, since pasture, animals, fences, water, and management are the main inputs. Sustainable beef production emphasizes alternative health practices to keep animals healthy and costs low.
 
Great Lakes Grazing Network. Web Site.
WEB SITE
"The network is a coalition of farmers, researchers, extensionists, resource agency staff, environmentalists and others organized locally in their Great Lakes region states or province to support and promote managed grazing systems for livestock production. The focus is on systems that are practical and profitable for farmers and that also protect and improve the environment. Organized by the Wisconsin Rural Development Center (WRDC) in 1993, the network is a collaborative effort of working groups from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Representatives from each group coordinate grazing-based activities; share research, education, training, policy, and outreach efforts; and develop policies supportive of grazing-based farming systems within the Great Lakes region."

Great Lakes International Grazing Conference Proceedings. Shipshewana, Indiana, 2000.
FULL-TEXT
A variety of topics on grazing based farming are available in this proceedings publication, including dairy, beef, sheep, horse grass-based farming, alternative marketing and getting starting in grazing.
 
Hamilton, T. and Potter, B. 'Twas The Night Before Christmas And The Cattle Were Grazing'. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), Guelph, Ontario, 2001.
FULL-TEXT
Some recent projects have shown that we may be able to significantly extend the grazing season in an area with a humid, temperate climate. Using the technique of "stockpiling", with common perennial forages, the grazing season has been extended into mid December. Stockpiling refers to the practice whereby a forage stand is harvested (by animal or machine) in mid summer, and then allowed to regrow into the fall season. After grazing on conventionally managed pastures is finished, cattle are turned into the stockpiled standing forage. The main objective of this management practice is to maximize the number of days that cattle are able to continue grazing. Our experience has shown that stockpile grazing with dry beef cows looks very promising, at least during fall seasons with favourable weather conditions.
 
Johnson, T. Economics of Grass-Based Dairying. ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas), Fayetteville, Ark., March 2002.
FULL-TEXT
"The management of grass-based dairy operations is different from that of conventional dairies. Grazing should not be considered as an option to make up for poor management of a conventional dairy. Relative to time spent managing conventional row crops, graziers spend more of their time monitoring and managing grass. While many successful graziers do grow corn silage and other crops for harvest or feed when pasture may be unavailable or limited, their focus is still on maximizing forage production for harvest by cows. Grazing managers spend more time observing and planning the next step to take than do many conventional dairy managers, whose time is spent primarily on operating machinery, making repairs, and feeding cows. Most graziers, as their experience and knowledge of the productivity of available resources expands, will increase the grazing season to maximize the number of days the cows are meeting their intake needs on pasture."
Liebhardt, W.C., ed. The dairy debate: Consequences of bovine growth hormone and rotational grazing technologies. University of California. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, Davis, CA, ©1993.
Dairy farmers are faced with the choice of whether or not to use synthetic bovine growth hormone (bGH) in milk production. Yet, they are told that they must use this genetically engineered growth hormone to remain competitive. Many think they have little or no choice. This publication throws light on factors that farmers and consumers should consider in making decisions about bGH; offers an alternative, rotational grazing; and presents case studies that document the use of this pasture management system on actual working farms. Rotational grazing increases profitability by reducing feed costs and other dairy inputs. It improves herd health, soil, air and water quality, poses no risks to human health, improves the quality of life for farmers and helps maintain the profitability of small to mid-sized family dairies, while bGH does the opposite.
 
Loeffler, B. et al. Knee Deep in Grass: A survey of twenty-nine grazing operations in Minnesota. Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture//Communication and Educational Technology Services, University of Minnesota Extension Service, St. Paul, MN, 1996.
FULL-TEXT
"This report was written to introduce dairy farmers considering management intensive grazing (MIG) to the types of production and business management strategies presently used on 29 Minnesota dairy grazing farms. This report also provides information about the effects of MIG on farm family quality of life and the types of equipment in operation on these farms. Dairy farmers who have adopted MIG will be able to compare their operations to those of study respondents. It can be helpful for graziers who wish to modify day-to-day activities and develop long-range strategies for their operations."
 
Murphy, W.M. and Kunkel, J.R. Sustainable agriculture: Controlled grazing vs. confinement feeding of dairy cows. In: Liebhardt, W.C., ed. The dairy debate: Consequences of bovine growth hormone and rotational grazing technologies. University of California. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, Davis, CA, pp. 113-130, ©1993.
"When measured against the goals of sustainable agriculture profitability, better quality of life and improved landscape feeding dairy cows on pasture wins in all three areas as an alternative to year-round confinement feeding... The advantages to agricultural communities are clear: More farms are likely to stay in business due to higher profitability, more farm children may go into farming because it is perceived as a desirable occupation again, the rural landscape will be better maintained and rural communities will be rejuvenated." Pasture dairying does not only improve the quality of life for the farmer but also for the animals.
 
Salatin, J. Salad Bar Beef. Polyface Farms, Swoope, Va., 1995.
Method of raising livestock on pasture. Grass-fed (salad bar) beef can be excellent, if done correctly, and commands a high market price. How-to book explains the why, how, and who of small-scale, organic livestock management. "Despite today's low cattle prices you can make a good profit with a small beef cattle operation. This book will show you how. Joel's Salad Bar Beef prototype as described is a financially better suited prototype for 95 percent of the cow-calf producers in the United States than the sale of commodity calves or yearlings. However, this is not just a 'how-to' book. It is also a book of philosophy, feelings and beliefs."
 
Wilder, J.R. An upbeat look at government policies and proposals involving cattle and sustainable agriculture. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture; 4(2):81-98, 1993.
"Cattle producers find themselves under pressure from society's demands for leaner beef and lower-fat dairy products, less soil erosion, cleaner water, and farm animal well-being. Given increased public concern about livestock production practices, Congress should elevate livestock issues to the same level of importance as plant crops in federal sustainable agriculture programs. By creating incentives and removing barriers and penalties in the ASCS feed grain price support program, the milk price support program, and the grazing permit program, respectively, Congress could encourage many farmers to adopt sustainable livestock management practices."

Marketing

Good Natured Family Farms
The All-Natural Beef Producers Cooperative comprises 15 active members in central and southeast Kansas and west central Missouri. To qualify for membership, a producer must be a small family farm, raise cattle free ranged on open grassland without growth hormones or subtherapeutic antibiotics.
 
Earles, R. and Fanatico, A. Alternative Beef Marketing. ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas), Fayetteville, Ark., May 2000.
FULL-TEXT
"This publication explores marketing alternatives for small-scale cattle ranchers who would like to add value to the beef they produce. It discusses methods for adding value, alternative marketing strategies, including niche markets for "natural," lean, and organic beef. Production considerations for pasture-finished beef are given special attention. A section on direct marketing focuses on connecting with consumers and developing a product. Processing and legal issues are also covered." See also Alternative Meat Marketing.
 
Ervin's Natural Beef Is Predator-Friendly. Web Site. Safford, AZ.
WEB SITE
"At Ervin's Natural Beef we're trying an experiment. We're betting that consumers are willing to pay a little more for their beef if it's produced without killing predators. Even though a lot of our ranchers are in the wolf reintroduction area, they have agreed not to kill any predators. Every day our ranchers face coyotes, bobcats, bears, jaguars, mountain lions, and now wolves. But we prefer to utilize proactive and non-lethal means to control predators. Moving the herd frequently, and increased contact both by humans and our cattle dogs has profound effect."
 
Gegner, L. Value-Added Dairy Options. ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas), Fayetteville, Ark., Aug. 2001.
FULL-TEXT
"Dairy farmers can add value to their milk by processing and marketing their own products, such as cheeses, yogurt, butter, ice cream, and farm-bottled milk. Many consumers are willing to pay a premium for locally produced, high-quality, farmstead dairy products; organic certification may further enhance the market potential."
 
Heavrin, M. and Kilde, R.S. Bruegman Grass-Based Dairy: Simply a Better Product . Center for Rural Affairs//North Central Initiative for Small Farm Profitability, Lincoln, NE, 2002.
FULL-TEXT
"A family-based initiative to market milk and dairy products directly to health-conscious consumers shares equipment and costs to move toward their goal."
 
Heavrin, M. and Kilde, R.S. Small Farm Cooperative: Quality and Innovation . Center for Rural Affairs//North Central Initiative for Small Farm Profitability, Lincoln, NE, 2002.
FULL-TEXT
"Small Farms Cooperative is a marketing organization made up of thirty small- and medium-sized farms and ranches. The group came together for the first time in June 1999, and has since formed into a marketing cooperative that markets their products with their Nebraska Natural Products label. It offers "natural" meat products raised to humane standards with environmentally sound production practices. These products include beef, pork, bison, sheep and poultry products sold under their NNP label".
 
Kleinschmit, M. and Kilde, R.S. Buttering Up Your Customers: Direct-Market Dairy Products Keep Profits on the Farm. Center for Rural Affairs//North Central Initiative for Small Farm Profitability, Lincoln, NE, 2002.
FULL-TEXT
"A group of grass-based dairy farmers in southeastern Minnesota decide to set their price by marketing and distributing premium quality, specialty dairy products themselves. "
 
Miller, L. FROM THE FIELD: David, Diane and Dresden Petty. Family combines cattle with conservation. Leopold Letter; 15(2) Summer 2003.
FULL-TEXT
"David Petty has taken what might be considered a negative situation farming along river bottom ground and turned it into an environmental plus, as well as a profitable and productive agricultural operation."
 
Miller, L. She tries to connect farmers, researchers, retailers and regulators: Kansas beef producer uses proactive approach. Leopold Letter; 12(2) Summer 2000.
FULL-TEXT
Diana Endicott runs a 400-acre certified organic farm in eastern Kansas with her husband, Gary. They market their all-natural beef in supermarkets through a producers' cooperative, the All-Natural Beef Producers Cooperative, that Diana helped organize three years ago, comprising 15 active members in central and southeast Kansas and west central Missouri. To qualify for membership, a producer must be a small family farm, raise cattle free-ranged on open grassland without growth hormones or subtherapeutic antibiotics.
 
NC SARE Office. Cooperatively producing and marketing all natural beef. Field Notes. NC SARE Quarterly Fact Sheet; Aug. 1999.
FULL-TEXT
This fact sheet profiles Kansas ranchers Diana and Gary Endicott' farm and Diana's efforts at organizing a farmer cooperative. Diana and Gary grow greenhouse vegetables, grain and hay and run a small cow/calf operation in southeast Kansas on their 400-acre certified organic Rainbow Farms. In 1997, Diana and area farmers formed a closed cooperative to ensure quality and consistency in their beef. Ten producers joined the "All Natural Beef Cooperative" to sell through the grocery chain under the "Nature's Premium All Natural Beef" label. The co-op added 10 members since then. To qualify for membership, ranchers must raise cattle without growth hormones or sub-therapeutic antibiotics, on a "small family farm" where family income is primarily generated from the operation and the family members are actively involved in labor. Animals are free-ranged. Their most important vision remains keeping the small farm viable.
 
Nader, G. Natural Beef: Consumer acceptability, market development, and economics. UC SAREP 1996-97 research and education report. University of California Cooperative Extension, UC-Davis, 1998.
FULL-TEXT
This project provided insight into the viability of grass-fed beef marketing in California. Consumer surveys and focus groups indicated an interest in products that were not implanted with hormones or given antibiotics. Case studies of California ranches selling grass-fed beef raised without hormones or antibiotics are presented.
 
Phillips, S. Red meat can be green. High Country News; 30(2) 1998.
FULL-TEXT
Ranchers Jim Winder and Will Holder of New Mexico, have teamed up with the nonprofit Defenders of Wildlife and are developing a seal-of-approval so that beef coming from ranchers who avoid killing predators will stand out in stores. Rather than killing predators such as wolves and coyotes, these producers train their cattle to stick together. Their methods include training cows to group around hay and conditioning them to bunch up at the sound of a whistle. Winder and Holder hope that the Wolf Country Beef program will demonstrate that ranchers can live with wolves and still make money.
 
Sechrist, P. and Sechrist, R. The ups and downs of direct-marketing beef. In: McDermott, M., ed. Future Farms: New Ideas for Family Farms and Rural Communities. Conference Proceedings. February 8 and 9, 2000. Metro Tech, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Poteau, Oklahoma, pp. 33, 2000.
FULL-TEXT
The following summary of direct marketing guidelines was presented :" I. Make sure marketing is consistent with your goals, personally and professionally. II. Select and define your market. III. Get your product ready for market. IV. Develop a marketing plan. IV. Flexibility & Adaptation: Be prepared to change your marketing strategies or things like your product packaging to better fit the market need."
 
Sechrist, R. and Sechrist, P. Organic, grass-fed beef and chicken: Management and markets. Future Farms 2002: A Supermarket of Ideas. Conference Proceedings . The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Poteau, Oklahoma, pp. 46-47, 2002.
FULL-TEXT
"We decided to build a business based upon our values. For us that meant a meat product that was healthy for consumers and a production method that enhanced our ecological system. The decision to do this was derived from our practice of holistic management.... It was this process that lead to our decision to go organic and then to build a marketing business around that... Organic livestock production became the easiest part of this experience. The real challenge one we underestimated is marketing." Some hints about direct marketing are given and issues to be addressed.
 
Hayhurst, C. Got organic milk? The natural dairy business is going mainstream. E-Magazine; 3 p., May-June 2000.
"The boom in the popularity of organic dairy is not due entirely to rBGH (or the lack thereof). A significant motivator is consumers' concern for the environment and, in many cases, animal welfare... Many dairy farmers, some of whom were raised on conventional agriculture, are finding that going organic is one way to ensure their products stay in demand and receive a fair price. 'The organic niche is proving a viable solution to help keep rural communities and small farmers economically and socially healthy."

See also Organic Valley

See also Niman Ranch


SMALL RUMINANTS

DIVERSIFIED, SUSTAINABLE, LIVESTOCK FARMING

From Sweden to Iowa: Seeking Humaneness, Sustainability and Democracy in Agriculture

Northfield, MN -- The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, famous for bringing world-renowned musicians and romance to the rural Midwest, will be the site of an unprecedented gathering on Friday, April 5, 2002. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., President of Waterkeeper Alliance, will be the keynote speaker during an all-day program on the urgent need to revitalize a culture of humane, environmentally-sound, independent family farming in Iowa, Minnesota and throughout the U.S.

The "Summit for Sustainable Hog Farming", sponsored by the non-profit Waterkeeper Alliance, with support from the Animal Welfare Institute and other organizations, brings together family farmers, scientists, attorneys, animal welfare advocates, fishermen, environmentalists, religious and labor leaders and public health activists, as well as citizens who suffer from living near animal factories.

At the special invitation of the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), Professor Bo Algers, Head of the Department of Animal Health and Environment at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, will focus on Sweden's experience in his presentation "Animals in Food Production: Sustainability and Democracy". Sweden captured the world's attention in 1986 when, at the request of Swedish farmers, it prohibited the routine use of antibiotics in raising animals for food, and again, in 1988, when Sweden required that all animals, including those used for food, be allowed to behave naturally. These statutes hastened Sweden's phase out of systems that impose extreme confinement and deprivation on animals used for food, and Sweden's progress toward a safe, ethical and sustainable food production system.

To help combat the extreme and unnecessary cruelty inherent in pig factories, the Animal Welfare Institute has established humane husbandry standards for raising pigs. Niman Ranch, a California-based marketing company famous for supplying high quality meat to fine restaurants, requires that the farmers from whom it buys pigs adhere to the Animal Welfare Institute standards. Bill Niman, co-founder of Niman Ranch, will discuss his company's mission and successful marketing to hundreds of restaurants and stores nationwide. Steve Ells, the founder of Chipotle Mexican Grill, uses Niman Ranch pork exclusively in his restaurants. Mr. Ells will discuss Chipotle's philosophy and experience with marketing the products of healthy husbandry in his presentation "How a Simple Burrito Can Make A Difference."

Iowa pig farmers Paul Willis and Colin Wilson will describe their family farms, managed according to principles of humaneness and sustainability. Mr. Willis, who also serves as manager of the Niman Ranch Pork Company of Iowa, and Mr. Wilson, along with 180 other independent family farmers, adhere to AWI's husbandry standards and market pigs for a premium to Niman Ranch. Minnesota farmer Paul Sobocinski, program organizer with Land Stewardship Project, will discuss grassroots efforts to fight concentration in agriculture and promote humane, sustainable pig farming.

Registration for the Summit commences at 8:00 a.m. and the formal program begins at 9:00 a.m. The registration fee of $25.00 includes all programs and meals. Mr. Kennedy's address, at 7:00 p.m., will be free and open to the public. For more information, call Waterkeeper Alliance attorneys Nicolette Hahn or Jeff Odefey at 914-422-4410 or Animal Welfare Institute Farm Animal Advisor Diane Halverson at 507-645-8434, or visit the Waterkeeper Alliance website at www.waterkeeper.org. The Animal Welfare Institute website can be found at www.awionline.org. The full agenda for the Summit is attached.

The following is a complete list of the Hog Summit speakers, listed in the order they will appear:

Ms. Nicolette G. Hahn, Senior Attorney, Waterkeeper Alliance

Brother David Andrews, Executive Director, National Catholic Rural Life Conference (Iowa)

Mayor Kirk Kraft, Mayor, Clear Lake (Iowa)

Ms. Janice Weber, Producer/Director, JWCreative Solutions, Ltd.(New York)

Dr. Mike Duffy, Professor of Agricultural Economics, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University (Iowa)

Dr. Kendall Thu, Department of Anthropology, Northern Illinois University (Illinois)

Dr. Melva Fager Okun, Coordinator, North Carolina Keep Antibiotics Working campaign (North Carolina)

Mr. Robert Cook, Citizen activist and former hog confinement worker (Iowa)

Dr. David Wallinga, Director, Antibiotics Resistance Project, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) (Minnesota)

Dr. Michael Appleby, Vice President for Farm Animals and Sustainable Agriculture, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) (Washington, D.C.)

Dr. Michael R. Burkhart, Associate Professor Department of Geologic and Atmospheric Sciences, Iowa State University (Iowa)

Dr. John Downing, Professor of Limnology, Department of Animal Ecology, Iowa State University (Iowa)

Ms. Martha Noble, Senior Policy Analyst, Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (Washington, D.C.)

Mr. Ken Midkiff, Director, Sierra Club, Clean Water / CAFO Campaign (Missouri)

Mr. Paul Sobocinski, Farmer and Program Organizer for Land Stewardship Project (Minnesota)

Mr. Tom Frantzen, Hog Farmer for Organic Valley (Iowa)

Mr. Charlie Speer, Partner, Payne & Jones (Kansas)

Mr. Daniel E. Estrin, Counsel, Kennedy & Madonna (New York)

Ms. Anne Wiowode, Director, Mackinac Sierra Club (Michigan)

Mr. Harlan Hansen, Former hog farmer and County Supervisor, Humboldt County (Iowa)

Mr. Hugh Espey, Rural Project Director, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa)

Dr. Stephanie Seemuth, Family Physician (Iowa)

Dr. Jan Flora, Professor, Iowa State University (Iowa)

Mr. David Osterberg, Associate Clinical Professor of Occupational and Environmental Health, University of Iowa (Iowa)

Ms. Diane Halverson, Farm Animal Advisor, Animal Welfare Institute (Minnesota)

Dr. Bo Algers, Professor, Swedish University of Agricultural Science (Sweden)

Ms. Theresa Marquez, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Organic Valley (Wisconsin)

Mr. Steve Ells, Founder & CEO, Chipotle Mexican Grill (Colorado)

Mr. Bill Niman, Founder, Niman Ranch (California)

Mr. Terry Spence, President, Family Farms for the Future and cattle farmer (Missouri)

Mr. Gary Hoskey, Hog farmer and President, Iowa Farmers Union (Iowa)

Ms. Marlene Halverson, Farm Animal Economic Advisor to Animal Welfare Institute (Minnesota)

Mr. Colin Wilson, Hog farmer and Immediate Past President, Practical Farmers of Iowa (Iowa)

Mr. Paul Willis, Hog farmer and Manager, Niman Ranch Pork Company of Iowa (Iowa)

Mr. Jim Braun, Citizen activist and former hog farmer (Iowa)

Mr. Bryan Burgess, Citizen activist cattle rancher (Alabama)

Mr. Don Webb, Citizen activist and former hog farmer (North Carolina)

Mr. Chris Petersen, Citizen activist and former hog farmer (Iowa)

Ms. Lisa Bechtold, Citizen activist and farmer (Alberta, Canada)

Mr. Kurtis Kelsey, Citizen activist and farmer (Iowa)

Ms. Karen Hudson, Citizen activist and farmer (Illinois)

Mr. Gary Bierschenk, Citizen activist and crop and hog farmer (Iowa)

Mr. Rick Dove, Waterkeeper Alliance Southeast Representative (North Carolina)

Mr. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., President, Waterkeeper Alliance

Biotech Advances Doom Dairy Cows

by Adam M. Roberts / photos by Betty Hazard

Biotechnology and farm animal welfare interests have clashedrecently over the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) approvalof recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) which is used to artificiallyincrease the milk output of dairy cattle. Though financially beneficialto giant agribusinesses and chemical companies, rBST poses greatthreats to the future of family farms, human health, and animalwelfare.

When formally approving rBST for commercial use on November 5,1993, the FDA declared no significant differences between themilk from treated and untreated cows. The proponents of this riskydrug justify its use by arguing the BST is a naturally occurringhormone and that traces are present already in beef, milk, andother dairy products. Unfortunately, with unnaturally increasedmilk production due to injections of this synthetic drug comesincreased hazards to human health. There is also a significantethical difference between products from those animals who wereforced to suffer rBST injections and those who were spared thisadded cruelty. Dr. Samuel S. Epstein, Chairman of the Cancer PreventionCoalition, Inc., recently notified FDA Commissioner, Dr. DavidKessler, that there is an increased threat of breast cancer fromconsumption of tainted milk. According to Epstein, the human carcinogen,insulin growth factor-1(IGF-1), is sustained in higher levelsin the milk from treated cows, placing human health at higherrisk.

Also, according to Dr. Michael Hansen of the Consumer Policy Institute,"Elevated levels of IGF- 1 can cause a disease called acromegaly,which involves enlargement of hands, feet, nose and chin, as wellas glucose intolerance and hypertension." Clearly, the inherentthreats of increased IGF-1 levels warrant prohibition of rBST'suse.

Another difficulty stems from the increased incidence of mastitis,a painful infection of the cow's udder, among treated cows whichleads to increased use of antibiotics. Antibiotic residues threatenhumans' ability to resist disease. The FDA has concluded thatthe risk of clinical mastitis is "slightly higher" amongtreated cows; but refuses to act on this knowledge, noting othersources of infection that occur more frequently. In other wordsif the number of mastitis cases due to increased lactations percow is greater than the number of mastitis cases due to rBST,the FDA considers rBST acceptable. According to this logic, thenumber of raindrops which will fall on my head during a stormis negligible compared to the total number falling on the city.Hence, I shouldn't bother using an umbrella.

The potential threats to human health clearly are drastic, althoughdenied by both the government and the manufacturer. The threatsto individual animal well-being are recognized and admitted, thoughapparently not grave enough to warrant rejecting the drug as aninappropriate "production" device.

One need look no further than the official FDA warning labelfor the product to see the threat to animals. According to thelabel, use of rBST "... has also been associated with increasesin cystic ovaries and disorders of the uterus during the treatmentperiod. Cows injected with [rBST] may have small decreases ingestation length and birth weight of calves and they may haveincreased twinning rates... Cows injected with [rBST] are at anincreased risk for clinical mastitis (visibly abnormal milk).In addition, the risk of subclinical mastitis (milk not visiblyabnormal) is increased... Use of [rBST] may result in an increasein digestive disorders such as indigestion, bloat, and diarrhea...Studies indicated that cows injected with [rBST] had increasednumbers of enlarged hocks and lesions (e.g. lacerations, enlargements,calluses) of the knee (carpal region) and second lactation orolder cows had more disorders of the foot region." Whilethere is a label to warn rBST users of its possible harms, nosuch label is required by the FDA to warn consumers that the dairyproducts they purchase come from cows who may have had one orall of the above listed ailments. The FDA is considering creating"guidelines" under which farmers who do not use rBSTcan label their products as being free of the hormone.

What will the FDA permit on such a label? Clearly, "fromcows not injected with rBST" would accurately inform consumers.The FDA, however, has stated its belief that this phrasing maybe misleading since, in its estimation, there is no differencebetween dairy products from treated and untreated cows. Even ifthe human health threats from ingesting the dairy product werenonexistent, there is an obvious distinction between a healthycow and a debilitated one. Given this distinction, the consumeris entitled to know if dairy products come from cows spared theadditional horror of rBST injections and their subsequent effects.This is no different than the consumers' right to know if theirtuna is dolphin-safe or their cosmetics are cruelty-free.

Already, a number of dairies haveannounced that they have initiated a process whereby they willnot accept milk or dairy products from cows injected with rBST.

Reacting to public outcry by concerned consumers, on March23, 1994, the Vermont legislature gave final approval to a billrequiring that "If rBST has been used in the production ofmilk or a milk product for retail sales in this state, the retailmilk or milk product shall be labeled as such." Federal labelinglegislation is being promoted by Congressmen Bernard Sanders (I,VT) and David Obey (D, WI).

Even if Congress acts to protect consumers by requiring labelingof rBST-tainted products or allowing labeling of rBST-free products,as long as the product is in use, cows and unwitting consumersare at risk. The European Union (EU) has a moratorium and Canadahas proposed a moratorium on the use of rBST. These positionscould pose difficulties under the restrictive North American FreeTrade Agreement (NAFTA) and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade(GATT). If either Canada or the EU rejects the importation ofmilk products from treated cows, the United States could challengesuch prohibitions as technical barriers to free trade.

Under these trade agreements one country cannot bar importationof another country's products based on the process by which theywere made. Thus, if it is ultimately proven that humans reallyare at no greater health risk by drinking milk from treated oruntreated cows, a country may not prohibit importation of therBST tainted dairy product -- even if thousands cows suffer toproduce that milk!

We must encourage our elected officials to follow the leadof our European counterparts. With dairy products already produced at surplus levels and the risk tohumans and dairy cows from rBST looming large, there is no justificationfor allowing the use of any drug to increase production. If rBSTremains in commercial use, requiring labeling of rBST productswill allow citizens to use their freedom of choice and purchasingpower to force uncompassionate dairy producers and sellers togo "rBST-free"' or go out of business.

To begin this process you can urge your grocer to stock only dairyproducts from suppliers who have certified that their cows arenot injected with rBST.

For up-to-date lists of rBST-free companies, those producers whohave not yet made the decision to refuse rBST, school districtsthat have passed resolutions vowing only to provide students withrBST-free dairy products and other vital information concerningthis important campaign, contact the Pure Campaign at 1-800-253-0681.



Animal Guardian Volume 7, No. 2, 1994, p.7-8.

Reprinted with permission from the Animal Guardian, DorisDay Animal League
http://www.ddal.org


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