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Thursday, February 9, 2017

New Chicken Hatchery & New Technology for Ontario

The Stratford Beacon Herald reports that a new chicken hatchery is scheduled to be constructed in Stratford Ontario, starting in May 2017, producing up to 16 millions chicks per year, starting some time in 2018.

This farmer-led partnership will use the latest technology from Europe, HatchCare providing the chicks a light, feeding and watering as soon as they hatch.  It is hoped that this will reduce the industries dependency on antibiotics.

Prior "technology" (more like Witch Doctor's Voodoo) relied upon injecting antibiotics and/or vaccinations into the eggs before they hatched, vaccinating and/or continual dosing of the parents with antibiotics and other drugs while they layed eggs for incubation.  This pseudo-science worked OK for the hatchery and the chicken factory farmer, but had significant consequences on the environment and human health; See:

Disclosure of Chicken Factory Antibiotic Use

MCR-1: Tragedy of the Commons for Antibioics in Agriculture

Organic Chicken Fraud

After Thousand of People Made Sick and many deaths, CFC finally bans use of human antibiotics in Chicken Eggs

B12 and Antibiotics for Chickens

Risk of 'Black Death' (Beubonic Plague) from Chicken Factory Antibiotic Use

and our most popular posting:   Frankenstein Chicken from Factory Farms

There are a total of 40 or so postings on his issue.  You can find them all by typing "antibiotic" in the search box in the top of the right hand column of this Blog.  If you dare read some of these posting, you may never be able to stand the revulsion of buying factory chicken again.

Dr. Blaser's best selling book Missing Microbes notes how humans are now subjected to various epidemics from the over-use of antibiotics.  He notes that this is being fought against for Caesarean births by the inoculation of the child with the mother's flora and fauna that the child misses by skipping the trip through the birth canal.

What about the baby chicks that are stolen from their parents and hatched in a sterile incubator?  Can we not avoid the majority of the disease and early death of chicks by prudent inoculation of the baby chicks with farm specific starter mix?  This would be the same as being naturally hatched under Mom and living in close proximity to her in the chick's early days.

HatchCare share some research that floor eggs (found on the barn floor instead of the nesting boxes) are more contaminated, tend to explode during incubation, and of lower average weight upon hatch.  Attempts to wash the eggs, or fog them with disinfectants don't make it much better.  If that contaminated mucous dries quickly, and the humidity is kept in he proper range, there is some (but not too much) inoculation of the egg shell, absorption through the shell and membrane, and to the chicks that eventually crawl all over the cracked shells when they hatch.  I agree that they need some of this natural inoculation, but not too much.

Note that the chicken's vent is the single opening that discharges the chickens' feces and its eggs.  The eggs are naturally coated by the feces contaminated mucous that quickly dries on the exterior of the egg.  This mucous tends to seal the pores in the egg shell, limiting the microbes that pass through the shell.  Chickens naturally share the flock's shared biome by consuming small amounts of their own feces (recycling), as well as the manure of their flock mates (cross-inoculation).  This helps ensure a homogeneous biome shared by all members of the flock.

However, the hatchery barn inoculation doesn't get them inoculated to the very different biome that exists on the farm to which those chicks are eventually sold.

A flock naturally develops a symbiotic biome of bacteria, protozoa, virii, and other microbes that is unique to its micro environment.  Inoculation with a different biome will not adequately acclimatize them for the specific destination for those chicks.

That means each farm would have to develop its own unique blend of microbes to which their chicks are inoculated.

I tried to do this for my chicks in my on-farm brooder by starting with well composted litter that was re-used from the previous flock.  CFO quoted the CFC rule book to me that assume all farmers will use antibiotics, and I soon received a non-conformance from CFO in my on-farm audit.  Presenting these theories and supporting research to CFO and CFC did no good, the rules are the rules, no exceptions, no discussion.

I was forced to remove all used litter from my brooder, immediately clean and sanitize between flocks.

Starting with clean litter, there is nothing in the CFC rule book that says I can't inoculate that new litter with some of the composted prior litter.  So that is what I now do.  As soon as the previous flock has left for the green grass pastures at 3 weeks of age, I crank up the heat to maximum, composting the old litter for 24 hours.  I save a 45 gallon drum of this composted litter, taking the rest to the compost pile.  I clean sweep and sanitize the brooder, and fill it with clean shavings.  I then sprinkle some of the old composted litter into the clean shavings, inoculating them with my farm's natural biome (approximately 0.01% old, 99.9%+ new).  I hope that this adequately inoculates the chicks with what they will eventually be exposed to when they go out to pasture.

To improve on this method (I have not yet done this step, but think I will in 2017), I suggest adding to your compost inoculant a garden rake full of green grass clippings and a shovel full of topsoil taken from your pastures (each pasture if you have more than one, or multiple samples randomly distributed over your one pasture).  Mix that with the old brooder shavings to create a hybrid biome, incubate it with the right moisture and C:N balance, and use this to inoculate your brooder.

You don't need much inoculant, as the brooder temperature and humidity will rapidly grow any microbes that are inoculated.  As the chicks grow, the concentration of the biome microbes in their liter can also grow.  You do not want to overwhelm the chick's immune system or its gut bacteria by a high concentrated dose.

With this combined biome inoculate and apple cider vinegar (with mother of vinegar if possible) in the drinking water supply, I believe you can operate without antibiotics or coccidiostats.

Please let me know what you think, your alternative methods, or ideas to further improve our small flock technology.

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