Friday, September 18, 2015

Backyard Chicken Hearing for Minto Ontario

Connie is hoping to save her 3 chickens from the municipal bureaucratic steamroller.  The public input meet was held on Tuesday Sept. 15th 2015 in Clifford ON, and now we wait for Council's decision.

We previously described Connie's struggle to have a fresh, healthy supply of chicken eggs for her family, and SFPFC's attempt to help her efforts (see Backyard Eggs for Minto and Backyard Chickens for Canadian Municipalities ).

Connie reported that more than 40 people attended the public meeting.  People attended from as far away as Kincardine, Owen Sound, and Brantford.  Most people were there to observe the proceedings, and didn't reveal their leanings, neither pro nor con.

One lady did speak against the proposal for legal backyard chicken for Minto.  This contrarian lady lives in another community within the Minto municipality limits, but is not anywhere near Connie.  This lady explained that she objects to backyard chickens as she doesn't want to be sitting in her backyard and be overwhelmed by chickens in a neighbour's yard.  She fears she will be bombarded by chicken manure flying over the shared fence, landing into her yard, offensive odors, screaming rooster calls, the continuous cackle from a multitude of chickens, or the health risk and nuisance from chicken predators.

If those fears were realistic, I don't know many people who would welcome chickens in neighbour's yards; all problems, with no benefits.  However, what needs to be decided is whether these fears are realistic.  Assuming a 5 ft. high fence separates the neighbours, it is hard to imagine how chicken manure would come flying over the fence into a neighbour's yard.

Is she assuming that her neighbour will be using a chicken manure catapult to get rid of this valuable fertilizer?  Is this of any greater risk or hazard of a neighbour tossing all the rotting windfall fruit that fell from a neighbour's fruit tree? Why does one risk need a By-law but the other does not?

What about the noise from a flock of chickens?  Surely there is a different between a neighbour's fruit tree vs. a flock of chickens?

I have 100 layers in a coop located a dozen or so yards from my house. Assuming that the chickens aren't screaming for their life as they are chased by a fox or other predator, I find it difficult to imagine how the usual flock noise from would be offensive to a neighbour who would likely be 50 ft. away, or more.

Urban, at night sound levels are typically 12 to 52 dB.  Chickens are typically locked up inside their coop at night so as to protect them from from predators.  Add to this the chickens are typically sleeping at night.  These important factors would tend to significantly reduce any noise produced during the nightly quiet time.

Table 1:  Chicken Noise
Vs. Flock Size
If we assume that 1 chicken produced 30 dB of noise, what will the total noise level be for a flock of varying sizes?

Noise does not have a linear additive effect.  Sound power levels are logarithmic.

Engineering Toolbox provides a handy calculator for adding the noise from similar sound sources, from which we get Table 1 on the right.

Connie currently has 3 chickens.  The By-law may be considering a maximum of  5 backyard chickens.  According to this analysis, 5 chickens would be just 23% louder (37 dB vs. 30 dB) than a single chicken.

Even at a flock size of 100 birds, we would have a noise level of 50 dB, which is 67% louder than just 1 chicken.  A flock of chickens of 100 birds, the maximum non-quota flock permitted in Ontario, would be just 50 dB, which would be in the typical range of urban nighttime noise levels (12 to 52 dB).

Therefore any reasonable size flock should not overwhelm other urban noises that might disturb neighbours.

Hopefully Minto Council can see the difference from unreal fears and reality.

A second issue raised was the risk of Bird Flu (ie. HPAI:   Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza), supported by the local Public Health Unit.  It is unfortunate that the Health Unit raised the question, but failed to provide an answer to their question for Minto Council.

I have previously examined the risk of Bird Flu (see Blog Postings:
CAFO chicken factories tend to be associated with 85% of all outbreaks of Bird Flu, while small flocks have about 15% of all Bird Flu outbreaks.  This ratio is true in spite of small flocks being the vast majority of all flocks.  Based on a rough risk analysis I performed, CAFO chicken factories are 77 times riskier than a backyard flock for Bird Flu.  That risk cloud continues for 20 miles or more downwind of a CAFO chicken factory as the huge exhaust fans spew chicken dust, feathers, manure, and infectious bacteria & viruses downwind to unsuspecting victims.

If the Public Health Unit isn't banning CAFO chicken factories for this reason, then they shouldn't be raising Bird Flu as an objection for 3 backyard chickens.  That is clearly scare mongering and a red herring by the Public Health Unit.

Now, Connie has to wait a week to get Minto Council's answer on her flock of 3 chickens.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Chicken Slaughter Plant Allegations of Animal Abuse

Undercover investigators for animal welfare have published another video on conditions inside the Carthage Texas USA slaughter plant of Tyson, taken during the Summer of 2015.

Tyson Foods is one of the world's largest processors and marketers of chicken, beef and pork.

Fox BusinessNews investigated the video and allegations made by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and reported as follows:

In an email to, Tyson Foods says they’re still reviewing the video but want consumers to know that they are committed to proper animal handling and workplace safety.

“Everyone who works with live animals in our plants – including the person who secretly shot this video – is trained in proper animal handling and instructed to report anything they believe is inappropriate. They can report to their supervisor, the Tyson Foods compliance and ethics hotline and even one of the USDA inspectors who have access to all parts of the plant, including live animal handling areas. During the timeframe we believe this video was shot, we have no record of any employees reporting claims of animal handling violations,” the company said via email to

Tyson says in addition to training, they regularly conduct internal animal handling audits and they’re also subjected to third party audits as well.

“The USDA has authority over production rates. We operate our plants – including the one in Carthage, Texas – well within the limits set by the USDA. The safety of our Team Members is very important to us,” the company adds.

In an e-mail to, the USDA gave the following statement.

"We are looking into the allegations of humane handling abuse at the Texas facility. FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service) is dedicated to ensuring that all animals presented for slaughter at FSIS-inspected facilities are treated humanely."
Mother Jones and Food Safety News provide additional information on these allegations.

Tyson is usually seen as a leader in the US chicken industry by the USDA, consumers, and Tyson's peers.

The equipment, chemicals, methods, and training used by Tyson are likely the same or similar to the ones currently used in Canadian slaughter plants, or the Canadian plants would like to upgrade their "inferior and antequated" chicken slaughter plants so they are more like Tyson and its leading competitors.

Until undercover documentation of Canadian chicken slaughter plants occurs, we really don't know for sure what is occurring.  Alternatively, we can wait for Canada's chicken slaughter plants to be fully open, transparent, co-operative, and responsible to consumers.  That may take a while under the top secret Supply Management system of Canada.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Backyard Chickens for Canada's Municipalities

Connie Murray's 3 backyard chickens are threatened by the powerful Municipality of Minto (see Blog "Backyard Eggs for Minto").

This scene has repeated itself all across Canada.  Fortunately, some enlightened Municipalities have allowed backyard chickens to exist again, as they have for the last 350 years in Canada.

Gord Hume, former Mayor of London ON said in his book 10 Trends For Smarter Communities

"Municipalities have this tsunami of change coming at them, yet we have Councillors fretting about chickens in backyards."

Today, we present a draft Municipal By-law that Connie and all others can use to help their Municipality to also see the light.

SFPFC's Draft Municipal By-law for Backyard Chickens (MS Word Version)

SFPFC's Draft Municipal By-law for Backyard Chickens (Adobe Acrobat pdf Version)

I have also sent a link for this Blog posting to Municipal World, a magazine and reference source for all Canadian municipalities, including providing most municipalities with draft By-laws.

Hopefully Municipal World will help you and your Municipality to better understand the terrible squeeze that Canadians suffer for safe, nutritious, sustainable, self-enabling, & affordable food.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Worst Case Scenario for CFO's Artisanal Chicken

In the game of chess, each player gets 8 pawns to play with.  While they have limited powers individually, when worked in unison, they can be powerful.  Unfortunately for pawns, they are usually sacrificed at the convenience of the player.  Does CFO plan to use, abuse, then sacrifice Artisanal Chicken growers, similar to the lowly, yet loyal pawn?

In previous postings (see 3000 chickens for Ontario's Small Flockers, Caveat Emptor of Artisanal Chicken, and CFO's Artisanal Chicken: Conflict of Interest, Question the Artisanal Chicken Program of CFO) we'd discussed CFO's new Artisanal Chicken Program, and some of its potential risks or ambiguities.

It takes a lot of hard work, long hours, ingenuity, and resources to build a new business.  I know, I've done it.  In other words, it isn't easy.

Thieves and fraudsters hoodwink and scam people, lulling them into a false sense of security, getting others to do all of the dirty work for them, then suddenly confiscate (ie. steal) the proceeds of the victim's hard work.  Thieves and fraudsters allow their victims to work hard for decades, accumulate their personal property and wealth, then quickly steal it all away in just a few hours of the thieves' effort.

I used to have a cherry tree in my backyard that I pruned and sprayed to keep bountiful harvests of cherries.  The wild birds never seemed to touch the cherries, until the cherries were ready for eating. Once ripe, within 4 hours, the tree was stripped clean by the wild birds.  My only defenses were to pick unripe cherries, or put a bird net over top of the cherry tree.  I installed the net, and our family enjoyed our cherry harvest the next year.

While my cherries were a renewing resource each year, AC chicken under CFO's byzantine rules may not give second chances. 

If I choose to be an Artisanal Chicken Farmer, will I need some type of bird net to protect me from the predatory CFO taking all my ripe AC "cherries" before I can enjoy any of the fruits of my labour?  

Could Artisanal Chicken ("AC") be a diabolic plan of Chicken Farmers of Ontario ("CFO")?

When you're a multi-millionaire CAFO factory chicken farmer, you are guaranteed a "reasonable return" on you assets and investments in chicken.  Since you have no worry about the financial return you receive on your investments, your biggest worry is losing your investment (ie. chicken quota or Supply Management is weakened or destroyed), the chickens that lay the golden eggs forever.  The other major risk is to make a bad investment in a new opportunity, and that bad investments kills your chickens that lay golden eggs for you.

At this point in time, we have:
  • Chronically weak and volatile world economy;
  • A weak Canadian economy, rising food costs; collapsing dollar; quivering real estate bubble values; weak retail sector; falling commodity prices for crude oil, natural gas, minerals, softwood, and many more.
  • Ontario following Greece's example of excessive debt, deficit, and piece-meal selling off of public assets;
  • Animal welfare advocates questioning the CAFO chicken factory system
  • Public and government forces pushing for the banning of wholesale use of antibiotics in animal's feed and water.
It's nice for CAFO chicken factory farmers can ignore all the above, because no matter what, they are guaranteed a handsome profit no matter how many times Canadians get flushed down the toilet.  CFO quota farmers want others to take all the risks.

It is unclear what will be the optimum choices for AC genetics, growing method, marketing, and processing.  What better way than to open up AC to 100 volunteers, allow them to try all the different permutations and combinations.  If 99% of the AC farmers fail due to their non-optimum choices or circumstances, that is one less risk for CFO and its members to face.

Once all of the rough edges have been knocked off, and many AC pioneers have proven it works first time, every time, that is when the AC farmers can expect CFO to pounce; similar to the wild birds patiently waiting for my cherries to ripen.

If the AC system becomes a success, all CFO has to do is change the rules, AC chicken farmers are out, and the CFO members can step right in to steal the proven AC system.

CFO's Policies Foreshadow CFO's Future Plans

CFO's Artisanal Chicken Policy 212-2015 says:
6.07   Artisanal Production Licences to Artisanal Chicken Farmers are subject to change and do not convey any property rights.
That means CFO can do as it pleases with any or all AC licenses, or the AC program overall.  They can suddenly cancel the program without warning the day after an AC farmer receives their 3,000 chicks, leaving the AC farmers stranded with birds they cannot own nor sell under CFO's whimsical and arbitrary rules.  Since there are no property rights, nothing was taken away by CFO by the sudden cancelation.

The Canadian Bill of Rights says we all have the human rights and fundamental freedoms, namely:
1. (a) the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property, and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law;
As soon as CFO changes a policy, and its rubber stampers at  OFPMC, the government's powers delegated to CFO make it law.  If CFO suddenly decides to treat AC farmers unfairly or unjustly, who will stand up and stop CFO?  Will Geri Kamenz and his merry band of rubber stampers at OFPMC stand up against their CFO friends so as to protect the AC farmers from CFO's tyranny and despotism?

I doubt it.

Only the Canadian Constitution, Charter of Rights & Freedoms, and Canadian Bill of Rights limit the government's powers, and hence limit the delegated powers enjoyed by CFO.
Since CFO's Policy specifically grants an AC license which is not property, the Canadian Bill of Rights does not apply, and CFO is free to treat all AC farmers as their slavish property, pawn, or cannon fodder; as CFO pleases.

Not since the Divine Right of Kings has anybody or any group enjoyed such unrestricted, absolute power awarded to the small, privileged minority of Supply Management (just 8% of all farmers in Canada).

CFO's Artisanal Chicken Policy 212-2015 also says:
9.02   The Artisanal Production Licence is specific to the particular artisanal chicken farmer, in support of the business proposition advanced in application, to whom it is issued and is not tradable, transferable, rentable and may not be pledged as security for indebtedness, and has no monetary value attributed to it.
Note that this clause further restricts the use and value of the AC License issued by CFO as ill-liquid and non-fungible.  All of which is to CFO's eventual advantage, otherwise why would they be doing this?

CFO's Artisanal Chicken Policy 212-2015 also says:
11.02   The Artisanal Chicken Policy will be reviewed on an annual basis, and determined whether to vary or amend it. CFO may also review the status of any artisanal chicken farmer, their artisanal chicken business community partner(s), and applied for business proposition and issue such orders and directions as it may deem appropriate to give effect to this Policy.  
I am surprised to see that CFO didn't expressly grant themselves the power to cancel the AC program all together.  Of course, CFO could add the power to cancel AC to this policy the day before they exercise that power to terminate AC.  In the alternative, they could suddenly declare that AC licenses have become very valuable, and hence AC farmers will be charged $1 Million per year for their license.  While AC is still officially operational, nobody is stupid enough to pay that extortion money to CFO.  The AC game is effectively finished.

Worst Case Scenario

Here is what I fear most for any Small Flocker considering joining CFO's AC program.

About 100 or so Small Flockers get duped by CFO into joining AC, 99% of them subsequently die due to CFO's wacky rules, delays, or difficulties in startup.  More Small Flockers, those who were on the AC waiting list, and without any warning or disclosure by CFO that their AC predecessors crashed & burned, step up to replace the fallen AC pioneers.  Eventually in 5 to 10 years, the AC bugs are all worked out, and an AC farmer can start to make a reasonable income, or perhaps a fantastic income, perhaps even better than CAFO chicken factory income.  The bigger the AC advantage, the sooner CFO will strike.  The AC pioneers will be shot in the back by using the 3 clauses listed above, or by CFO changing its regulations for AC.  Preference will then be given to quota-bearing CFO members to confiscate the AC market, and these CFO members will be powerful blood sucking leaches who will step into the fertile ground prepared by the blood, sweat, & tears of the pioneering AC farmers.

CFO's Response to the Worst Case Scenario?

Perhaps all of the above shocks the conscience of CFO that someone would suspect that CFO might not have the best of intentions toward all AC farmers.  Perhaps CFO never intended to do any of the nasty and immoral acts listed above.

Perhaps CFO has nothing but rainbows, sunshine, & trotting unicorns in their hearts & minds.

In that case, CFO should have no problems with the revision of their policy now, so that AC farmers are adequately protected from the arbitrary, whimsical, despotic, and unlimited powers of CFO.

Divine Right of King CFO?

Not in my world.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Question the Artisanal Chicken Program of CFO

In previous postings (see 3000 chickens for Ontario's Small Flockers, Caveat Emptor of Artisanal Chicken, and CFO's Artisanal Chicken: Conflict of Interest) we had discussed CFO's new Artisanal Chicken Program, and some of its potential risks or ambiguities.

Today, we have finished our detailed review of Artisanal Chicken, and have sent our questions & concerns to CFO for answers.  Here is our email:

SFPFC's Questions for CFO   Adobe Acrobat pdf file, 12 pages, 211 kB
It will be interesting to receive CFO's response.  In the past, I usually receive nothing whatsoever from CFO to any of my concerns or inquiries.  Up till now, there has been no politeness, no openness, no transparency, no accountability.

Hopefully, the time for change is now.

On 2015-08-06, Sustain Ontario submitted a number of questions & concerns to CFO about Artisanal Chicken.  In their case, they received a nice response letter from CFO in 6 days.  So far, Sustain Ontario hasn't received any answers from CFO about Sustain Ontario's questions, but at least they received a letter from CFO acknowledging that some questions were asked.

It's a start.

Let's see where it goes.

I encourage all readers to submit their comments here on the Artisanal Chicken program, or pose their questions & concerns directly to CFO.

Submit a question or comment to CFO on their Artisanal Chicken Program