Eat These Birds to Keep Them Alive!: Developing Sustainable Poultry Flocks

| 8/26/2013 2:24:00 PM

So, what makes a flock of poultry sustainable? What is standard-bred poultry? If you purchase chicks from a hatchery, are they true to the breed? Why does every hatchery sell Rhode Island Reds and they all look different? Why do the Cornish Cross meat chickens have so many problems? Raising standard poultry is the only true way to improve the sustainability of quality local food while preserving the strength of Heritage poultry. Farmers are looking for sustainable sources of poultry to start a flock. What does it take? Let me suggest to you that there is a lot of misunderstanding about this.

Let me share with you a personal experience. For several years I work in the commercial turkey industry and 100 percent of all the turkeys we raised were unable to reproduce naturally! We raised breeder flocks that needed us human beings to assist in the process of reproduction. We trained hired men to collect semen from the toms and then spend the next day inseminating the hens to fertilize the eggs. These turkeys cannot reproduce without the assistance of man”. This is true of the entire commercial, factory-like turkey industry. Poultry that cannot reproduce naturally are not sustainable. This is also true in the commercial chicken industry; using sophisticated, proprietary crosses of specific industrial stocks which can only produce predictable results when managed on a commercial scale. All hybrids of meat chickens and egg layers that are crossed for production reasons, cannot reproduce and hatch the same species of birds. They are genetically controlled by the companies that own them.

This is also true of the ‘Freedom Ranger’ and the ‘Label Rouge’- you cannot reproduce these birds on your own local farm. So, think about this, if you are dependent upon a company to send you baby chicks every year (0r every 8 weeks) because you cannot reproduce your own flock, is your flock of poultry sustainable? Absolutely not! If these genetic companies of turkeys and chickens would ever just go away, you will no longer have a flock of birds.

This is a urgent matter that we are up against! We need to do something about it right away. All the "old historical, heritage" breeds of poultry are disappearing. Why, because we are no longer dependant on them to produce meat and eggs for us. True Rhode Island Reds, Plymouth Rocks, New Hampshires, Dorkings, Orpingtons, Australorps, Chanteclers and even true leghorns are very hard to find! It is even harder to find a breeder who is interested in breeding them to standard.

The Sustainable Poultry Network  is working diligently to bring these birds back to the kitchen tables of American families. This means that we must breed the production qualities back into all the dual purpose breeds of these historical, heritage poultry. Not just "eye candy backyard chickens"   but actual egg and meat producing poultry that can naturally reproduce, enjoy the natural life of the pasture and have a normal, slow growth rate!

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