Monday, February 22, 2016

Artisanal Chicken Brooder

In the spirit of Blog 3.0, this post will share my ideas and plans for a low cost, effective brooder for use under CFO's Artisanal Chicken program to produce 3,0000 birds per year.

I have previously posted numerous descriptions about the evils of the CAFO chicken factory. I believe in pastured poultry.  However, that's kind of tough to do when the grass is under 3 feet of snow.  Even in the short Canadian summers, the chicks can't be tossed out into the pasture on they day they are hatched; they must spend time under Mama's wing, or in a brooder.  After 2 weeks, they will be ready for the great outdoors.

It's 17 hours round trip to the nearest abattoir that slaughters poultry.  It's 2 years in jail if I try to do it on-farm.  That regulation isn't for any particular health or safety reason, as it has been repeatedly shown that a farmer with a sharp knife can produce eviscerated chicken with 97% less bacterial contamination that the government approved Chicken Mafia system.  The mandatory abattoir visit is due to regulatory capture by the Chicken Mafia, helping to enforce their monopoly.

Due to the high travel costs, I must max. out the abattoir on every trip.  My nearest abattoir can process 500 birds in one day, so my Artisanal Chicken system must learn how to produce flocks of 500 birds.

Joel Salatin says the poults are ready to go to pasture on the first nice day after they are 2 weeks old.  CFO sets a maximum density of 2.88 kg/sq. ft of barn space.  Using the curve in Figure 1 below, we can design the brooder.

Figure 1:  Chick growth curve for Frey's Whiterock meat birds.  I assumed the
chick was 40 grams when hatched, then used Frey's data, fitted by
Richard's (1959) generic chicken growth equation using 4 parameters (A, b, k, and n),
showing the birds have an ultimate weight of 3.233 kg.
Figure 2:   GFQ's 5 tier brooder
can do 500 chicks for about a
week or less, requires a warm
draft free room, electricity, and a
fat wallet.
GFQ makes a 5 tier stacking brooder at a cost of US$1,130.00 plus shipping, exchange, and taxes, which equates to about CDN$1,850.00 for Canada.

With GFQ's system, I still have to do something different after the first week.  GFQ takes 15 amps to run the 5 electric heaters (one on each level).  That much electricity on a 34/7 basis is close to impossible for my off-grid solar-wind power system to power.  In addition, I have to supply a warm, draft free building.  The living room of our house won't go over well every 8 weeks with my patient spouse.

After scratching my head for a while, and a few back of the envelope calculations, I decided the only available solution was a 40 ft. used sea container.  You can do it in a 20 ft. sea container (about $2,500 delivered, about $15.60 per sq. ft. vs. $75 per sq. ft. to build your own barn, or $150/sq. ft. to have a contractor build it.

I decided to buy a 40 ft. can, as I have other plans for the rest of the space, and a 40 ft can is cheaper than two 20 ft. cans.  I got my 40 ft. can for about $4,000 delivered to the farm and put in place.  Under Ontario Building Code, a sea container sitting on the ground (or 6" x 6" sleepers) is not a building and doesn't require a building permit, and doesn't add to your assessed property value.  Sweet!

Figure 3:   Interior plan view of sea container brooder for 500 chicks.  There are 5 brooders, and a central hallway
for wheelbarrow access.  If you have terrible weather and can't go to pasture after 2 weeks of age, you can throw
a few bales of wood shavings onto the hallway floor, and legally extend the brooder time to a maximum of 3 weeks.
The central hallway has to be 3 ft. wide to accommodate my wheelbarrow.  Double door keep out drafts, and open fully for easy loading, unloading, and cleaning.  Each brooder is designed to hold 100 chicks, from day old to 2 weeks of age, then its out to the pasture for them.  At 2 weeks old, the poults should be 0.412 kg, so at a stocking density of 2.88 kg/sq.ft., we need 14.30 sq. ft. which is exactly what we have in Brooders 2 -->5 (#1 is slightly larger).

Sometimes bad weather, or a delay at the abattoir could cause a backup, where the poults can't go to pasture on the planned date.  In that case, you can throw a few bales of wood shavings or hay down on the central hallway, and depopulate each brooder by 67 birds each, and place 338 poults in the hallway for an additional week, or the emergency has resolved.

At 75 birds per pasture pen (10' wide x 12' long  x 2' high), the birds start at a density of 9.6% of CFO's maximum, and grow to 70% of CFO's maximum density; thereby ensuring no overcrowding.

To protect the brooding birds from winter cold, 1.5" of thermal insulation, covered by 1/2" plywood is between the sea container's cold steel wall and the warm birds.  The floor will have 1" of thermal insulation, then 1/2" PEX tubing carrying 50/50 mixture of heated propylene glycol-water.  When a brooder is cold, the thermostat turns on the small DC recirculation pump for that zone, and sends hot fluid through the PEX to warm the chicks.  I tried getting a used propane fired water heater from a travel trailer for $100, but my supplier was out of supply, so I had to buy a new one for $600

The 2 ft. high 2x4 walls between each brooder keep the chicks isolated, carry the PEX lines to and from each brooder, are internally insulated to conserve heat, then skinned with plywood..  Hockey puck LED or halogen lights will light each brooder.  A sheet of 2" insulation board will be used for a roof.

Ventilation of the individual brooders is by propping up the brooder's insulation board as needed.  Overall, the sea container interior is ventilated by grated air inlets cut into the floor (predator proof), and multiple roof vents.

Minimal cost, maximum energy efficiency, and maximum comfort for the birds.  With Small Flockers, everybody wins.

SFPFC has made arrangements with the owner of this design as an aid to our members.  Anybody who is a member of SFPFC is hereby welcomed and automatically licensed to use this design.  All others must refrain from using our registered design.  The design owner is not vengeful, but can be provoked to attack mis-use or unauthorized use of this design.

Any questions, or suggestions to further improve the design, please comment below or by private email.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Shifting Gears: Blog 3.0

I believe it's time to shift gears on the Blog for Small Flock Poultry Farmers of Canada ("SFPFC"), moving toward Blog 3.0
Readers of SFPFC's Blog are now from 161
countries, including Antarctica.

This Blog was started  on Feb.28, 2013 (coming up on 3 years old), has posted 444 entries, and attracted a total of 187,723 visits from people in 161 countries around the world. (USA, Canada, Russia, France, Ukraine, Germany, China, and UK leading the way in visitors).

We shifted gears in May 2015 to a non-daily posting, as Blog 2.0

Today, we shift gears to Blog 3.0, where our primary focus will now be to help non-quota poultry farmers, cheerleading their successes, and providing helpful hints to do sustainable, worthy poultry farming that can produce safe, nutritious, affordable, locally produced poultry for our local communities.  This will include non-CAFO poultry farming, small flock, Artisanal Chicken, Family Food exemption, and all similar non-quota poultry farming.

Up until now, our primary focus has been on investigating and describing the plight of non-quota chicken farmers in Ontario Canada, as a proxy and worst case scenario for all Small Flockers across Canada.

Small Flockers in Ontario have historically been the most abused, mistreated, and persecuted of all Small Flockers across Canada.  Our theory was that if we cannot make our case for relief and respect for Small Flockers in Ontario, we would not be able to do any good for anybody else across Canada.

Since starting our crusade 3 years ago, Ontario's Chicken Mafia, as embodied and lead by the Chicken Farmers of Ontario, has introduced "Artisanal Chicken", where a Small Flocker can raise up to 3,000 birds per year; 10 times more than the previous draconian rules by CFO against both Small Flockers and Canadians.

For those who shout "Too little, too late", I agree.

However, these changes forced upon the Chicken Mafia by public opinion and their government masters are a good start.

As the Canadian and world economies continues to tailspin down, out of control, the unfairness and unacceptable cost of Supply Management ("SM") will become more and more apparent to the public.  Soon the public will start shouting for urgent changes for more affordable food that isn't contaminated or depleted of nutrition.  Those additional changes to SM will suddenly start to appear.  We need to be patient.

The Chicken Mafia will think that each concession granted will be sufficient to satisfy the complaints against them and their wicked, dysfunctional system.  The Chicken Mafia think that throwing one last bone to the wolves at the Chicken Mafia's door, they will escape the bite of the ravenous wolves.  The Chicken Mafia think they can then resume their raping, pillaging, and abuse of Canadians and Small Flockers.

However, each changed forced upon the Chicken Mafia will be too little, too late.  It will quench the thirst for change only momentarily.  The grudgingly created concession will help show that change for the better is possible, and show the chronic unfairness that has been imposed for decades by the Chicken Mafia.  Each change will fuel and spread the need for more change.

That doesn't mean that the Chicken Mafia can escape by refusing all change, sending forth their lobbyists with more money and propaganda to quell the growing disturbance.  The Chicken Mafia can no longer delay, deny, destroy, defend, distract, deride, and deflect.  Refusing to change for the better will quickly end their tinpot monopoly.

For those who are interested, the evidence of the Chicken Mafia's dirty deeds is collected together and fully explained here.  For those interested, the Internet will spread the message.  For those who wish to stay dumb and blind, nothing written here will change anything for them.

Also, there is little to be gained from re-hashing the same crimes and misdemeanors of the Chicken Mafia over and over again.  It's now time to move on.  However, if the Chicken Mafia commit another unique and grisly offense against Small Flockers or the Canadian public, you will likely hear about it here first.

Now  we will build our own Small Flocker community.  We will share and support each other.  We will build the policies and best practices of Small Flockers, so that this becomes the nexus of sharing and celebrating everything Small Flocker.

I therefore call upon all our readers around the world for what they have done to improve their flocks and better serve their local communities.  You are all requested and invited to share your stories, pictures, and other successes here.

The dysfunctional CAFO chicken factories and their quota monopolies, lies, cheating, and incest are hereby abandoned, out of the spotlight, and can wallow in their own filth as long as they want, slowly rotting, rusting and inbreeding to their heart's content.  We are done with them.  Good-bye.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Your Chicken Choice Is Clear

We now have scientific evidence that pastured chicken is more nutritious than the CAFO chicken factory meat sold in the typical grocery store.  Your choice in chicken is now clear.
The Choice in Chicken is Now Clear

I have previously posted comments made by a number of sources that free range and/or pastured chicken was better, but I was never able to find hard scientific numbers to back it up.  Fortunately, courtesy of our American neighbours, we now have those science-based data to support the former anecdotal testimonies.

I have previous posted about the good fats and other benefits of pastured and free-range chicken (see Blog postings Animal Fat in our Diets, Vegetable OilsFood Quality & Nutrition: Factory Chicken Vs. AlternativesPastured Poultry and Mental Health).

Figure 1:   Comparison of chicken fats from CAFO chicken factories Vs.
Pastured Poultry.  As can be easily seen here, pastured poultry is better
in at least 10 out of 12 categories.  Recent research shows dietary
cholesterol is no longer seen as a problem, and is essential for building
healthy membranes within all cells,  so that would make pastured chicken
better in 11 out of 12 categories (no data exists in the 12th category, so no
comparison can be made in the final category.   Source: APPPA
American Pastured Poultry Producers Association ("APPPA") conducted the research "Pasture and Feed Affect Broiler Carcass Nutrition", on the nutritional difference between pastured chicken and the CAFO factory chicken that is ubiquitously available in all Canadian grocery stores.  The APPPA's summary report was written by Mike  Badger, revised 4/22/2015.

As compared to CAFO factory farm chicken, pastured chicken has been found to have:
  • 33% less of the bad Omega-6 fat;
  • 91% more of the good Omega-3 fat,
  • 47% to 80% better Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio (depending on the supplemental feed used);
  • 407% more Vitamin E;
  • 52% less Saturated Fat
  • 53% less Monosaturated fat;
  • 32% less polyunsaturated fat;
  • 50% less fat (all types).

All About Fats

Trans fats are the worst, often created by the chemical factory processing of vegetable oils via high temperature oil extraction (often using petroleum based solvents such as hexane), deodorization, or hydrogenation. Because they have been deodorized, we can no longer detect when the oil has gone rancid, enabling us to unwittingly consume rancid oils.  Deodorizing these oils is the same as a car manufacturer purposefully not installing the LOW OIL PRESSURE switch on your car's engine, perhaps with the purpose that you will destroy your engine, and they can sell you a new car sooner.

Next worst after trans fats are PUFA's (Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acids).  PUFA's are an essential fat (ie. we need it but our bodies can't produce our own, so we must consume it from our food), but we only need a tiny bit that is naturally occurring in many foods.  PUFA's are unstable due their unsaturated double bond, are easily oxidized, and quickly go rancid.  When eaten in excess, PUFA's have a terrible effect on our liver, pancreas, thyroid, and obesity.  Eating PUFA's at the same time as fructose maximizes the harm, as these interact to form AGE's (Advanced Glycation Endproducts).  Omega-6 (eg. Linoleic acid such as corn oil, canola oil, and most other liquid oils, salad dressings, margarines, etc.) is a PUFA which is one of the worst, clearly shown to cause or contribute to coronary heart disease.  Omega-6 fats also tend to cause or contribute to systemic inflammation in our bodies (eg. irritable bowel, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.).  In North America, we consume way too much Omega-6 PUFA fat; 8 times more than historically.  The rest of the world has followed us down this swampy path to PUFA hell, hurting their health too.

Omega-3 ( α-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) obtained from foods such as flax seed, cold water fish, etc.) is also a PUFA.  Omega-3 tends to counteract many of the negative consequences of Omega-6.  Omega-3 is best consumed as food rather than as a pill or other supplements (eg. fish oil), as too much Omega-3 is not good for you, and pills are of questionable quality and freshness (ie. likely they are contaminated or denatured by the extraction process, and likely oxidized or rancid due to sitting too long on the shelf).  The ALA type of Omega-3, primarily from flax seeds and other vegetable sources, can't be metabolized directly, so the body has to convert ALA to EPA &/or DHA for it to be used, and that conversion process is long and inefficient, so animal sources of Omega-3 are the best.

PUFA's are in most foods, so it is very difficult to avoid them. In meats, the PUFA's aren't as bad as the vegetable oils, usually because the meat isn't rancid, and if it is rancid, it's easily detected, and rancid meat likely won't be eaten due to the terrible taste.

First and foremost, PUFA's should be severely limited in our diets.  For the small amounts of PUFA's that are permitted to remain in our diet, the next important factor is the Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio.

Before humans got their first chemistry set for Christmas, it is believed that human diets had an Omega6:Omega3 ratio of 1:1.  A ratio of 4 or below is generally considered excellent (ie. 4 parts Omega-6, 1 part Omega-3).   Unfortunately, mainly due to our modern foods made by Mad Scientists and their chemistry sets, or processed foods, and/or CAFO factory farming, our typical diet in North America has way too much Omega-6, and our N. American diet ratio of Omega-6:Omega-3 is often as high as 20:1


To understand the healthier choices in meat, most science-based nutritionists suggest looking at minimizing the amount of Omega-6, then minimize the ratio between Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats in the meat.  

Looking at the table above, we can see that soy-free pastured chicken has 32.9% less Omega-6 fat, and as low as a 3:1 ratio, both of which are excellent for a healthy diet.

This research also shows that when chicken feed is made with soybean meal as the primary protein source, the chickens tend to add significantly more body fat.  However, when peas are used as the primary source of protein, the chickens tend to be significantly less fatty.  Of course CAFO chicken factories tend to be highly reliant on soybean meal as a cheap source of protein.  Non-soy fed pastured chicken has a ratio as low as 3:1 (ie. excellent), while USDA tests of CAFO chicken factory meats have a  15:1 ratio (ie. not so healthy).  On this basis, pastured chicken is up to 5 times better than meat from CAFO chicken factories.

Omega-9 (eg. oleic fats, such as olive oil) are mono-unsaturated fats ("MUFA") that are generally considered as excellent dietary fats, better than PUFA's.  However if a MUFA is used in a high heat cooking process (eg. grilling, frying, roasting, etc.), it will denature and form bad oxidation products.

8 Chicken legs (2.23 kg raw) were roasted,
producing 150 ml (144 grams) of excess fat in
the bottom of the roasting pan.  This excess
CAFO factory farming fat is $0.5 Billion
per year of waste to Canadians.

Practical Test of CAFO Chicken

To put this information to a practical test, I purchased two packages of whole chicken legs (4 drumstick & thighs per package, 8 legs in total, with skin), for a total raw weight of 2.23 kg.  I paid the standard Chicken Mafia gouging prices Canadians must pay due to this unholy Chicken Mafia monopoly.

I roasted the chicken and collected the grease left in the pan.  After cooking,  I had 150 ml of rendered chicken fat in the bottom of the pan.  I'm sure there was still some additional fat in the skin and on the legs that didn't liquefy.  That excess chicken fat weighed 144 grams, so we had 6.41% (ie. 144/2230*100%= 6.41%) of the raw purchased weight ended up as unusable fat in the bottom of the roasting pan.

The Hidden Costs of Soybean based Chicken Feeds

According to CFC's Annual Report for 2014 (see page 18), Canada's Chicken Mafia raised a total of 1,067,291,000 kg of eviscerated chicken in 2014.  Assuming my home kitchen test applies to all of that Chicken Mafia chicken, that 6.41% excess fat converts to a total loss to Canadians of 68.41 million kg of wasted fat.  Statistics Canada Table 326-0012 reported the Canadian average cost of whole chicken in 2014 was $7.23/kg., so that excess CAFO fat is a total loss caused by excess, unhealthy fat of $494.6 million per year; forced upon Canadians with no knowledge, disclosure, nor choice.

As calculated above, the CAFO chicken fat isn't healthy for us to eat, and overly fattened CAFO chickens wastes about $0.5 Billion per year from Canada's wallets.

In addition, soybeans are well known for their isoflavones (such as genistein and others, plant compounds that mimic human estrogen).  Soybean is the leading suspect in causing 9 yr. old girls to grow breasts and start early menstruation.  See this Scientific American article.

While the soybean is a relatively cheap source of protein, perhaps there are reasons for it being cheap, and we need to be wary of the hidden consequences of that cheap protein source.

No doubt, soybean-based feeds for chickens will maximize the Chicken Mafia's profits.  However, perhaps  it would be far better for Canada and Canadians if there was a different feed formulation and/or better CAFO growing methods so as to avoid adding this excessive and wasteful fat to their chickens.


There ought to be a law against the dysfunctional and questionable practices of the Chicken Mafia and their CAFO chicken factory methods.

Let this be a lesson to all of us.  This is what happens when we are provided no choice.  This is what happens when the Chicken Mafia is expected to make all the choices on our behalf, and we end up with no choice, and the final product presented to us happens
to be better for the Chicken Mafia, than for us.

In short, buy pastured, free range chicken, especially if it is fed a non-soy ration to supplement its natural diet of grass & bugs.  That's the best for both you and the planet.