A recent article in the Washington Post, “The labels said ‘organic.’ But these massive imports of corn and soybeans weren’t,” uncovered large shipments of “organic” labeled soybeans from Ukraine and Turkey that were falsely labeled and ready to be sold here in the U.S. as organic.
The excuse for buying cheap, questionably organic corn and soybeans from China, India and others is that there is not enough available grain in the U.S.A. But farmers here will not produce higher cost organic grains without being assured they have a loyal customer.
To be sure, we are really feeding our chickens 100% organically produced grain. We depend on the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Organic Certifiers to verify our processes.
The integrity and quality of imported organic grain is horrible. But it is cheap. The June 12, 2017 article in the Washington Post uncovered millions of pounds of apparently fake “organic” grains, imported into the U.S. This has finally convinced the food industry that there is a problem.
Formaldehyde is traditionally used to fumigate the eggs to minimize bacteria. But it’s a toxic chemical, not only to the embryos, but to team members as well.
Our fertile eggs are sanitized using an organic vinegar-based disinfectant.
It’s all about trying to keep the chickens alive, growing fast and growing big, using the least amount of cheap feed. The chickens are under a lot of stress:
- The big company breeds are designed to grow big and fast.
- Chicken houses are not cleaned and disinfected between flocks.
- The chickens are crowded in the house.
In this model, you MUST use antibiotics or you will have sick and dying chickens.
Those chicken companies that use this model and claim they don’t use antibiotics are being dishonest.
From the egg through the chickens’ entire life—from hatchery to the farm—our goal is to provide the least stress environment possible.
We are working on the development of slower growing poultry breeds.
We start at the hatchery by giving chickens access to organic feed as soon as they chirp out of the egg. Then baby chickens have a short, comfortable trip to the farm, where the chicken houses have been completely cleaned out and disinfected. The chicken house is filled with fresh, clean litter and has been empty for more than two weeks.
Natural lighting, ample space, enrichments, proper air management, clean quality seed and non-chlorinated drinking water (UV and hydrogen peroxide treated only) are provided for their comfort and nourishment.
Raising healthy chickens is all about reducing stress, and doing what needs to be done for effective animal welfare management.
Hexane solvent extraction is a method used to produce soybean oil and soybean meal. Hexane is a toxic chemical distilled from petroleum. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) categorizes it as a hazardous air pollutant. Hexane extracts virtually all of the valuable vitamin E and choline from the oil and soybean meal. It also pollutes discharged water and air.
The larger issue is the hexane residue remains in the oil and the soybean meal, and ends up in the poultry.
We use the extrusion and expeller extraction method to produce soybean meal.
No oil is removed from the soybeans during extrusion. Rather, beans are processed into meal through pressure and heat of friction. Extruded meal has a bypass protein level of approximately 45%. Expeller presses allow us to remove some of the oil.
With these processes, we retain valuable vitamin E and choline for our diet. No toxic chemicals are used in this process.
If a small amount of this toxic chemical doesn’t bother you in the food we eat, you can cut costs. If hexane is released into the air and water doesn’t bother you, you can cut costs.
All Bell & Evans fryer oil comes from our own expeller pressed, U.S. grown organic soybeans. No toxic chemicals are used.
Males could be up to a pound heavier at market weight than females. Raising them separately makes it easier for poultry producers to process them. It allows the producers to sell a narrow weight range to restaurants and retailers that sell by the piece rather than weight.
Raising the male and female chickens separately creates stress. We want a happy, healthy flock so we keep them together.
All kinds of rendered animal wastes and used cooking oil have been known to be used in animal least cost diets. Second-hand salt, bakery by-products, feather meal and even less desirables could be used in least cost diets.
No by-product use of any kind. We use only corn, soybeans and other good stuff, including oregano oil, cinnamon and yucca root.
DDGS is a protein alternative producers can get at a lower cost than corn. It’s a by-product of ethanol production.
Antibiotics are used to control bacteria in the fermentation process of DDGS. Not all antibiotics are metabolized—they remain in the DDGS.
We use only corn and soybeans for protein. Period.
Composting the chicken manure in the barns for many flocks back-to-back and starting the baby chickens on the old, smelly manure saves a lot of money. The U.S. poultry industry is one of the only countries in the world with this practice.
The cost savings is usually offset by the need to add chemicals to control ammonia, which is released from the manure, and antibiotics to keep the chickens healthy. And the result is still inhumane living conditions and increased mortality rates.
For good bird health, we minimize chances of Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli growth by mandating clean chicken houses and strict biosecurity procedures.
To give the baby chicken a chance, the chicken houses need to have cement floors that are cleaned, disinfected, and applied with brand new litter between EVERY flock.
The dump system is a very inhumane live haul system. And the majority of the poultry industry approves of this 40-year-old method because it lowers costs. Live chickens are thrown through spring-loaded doors. The chickens are then dumped upside down at the processing plant, with the weight of the birds knocking the spring-loaded door open. They fall onto a belt alive. The birds are then hung upside down on a moving line, before being stunned and then slaughtered.
Our live chicken hauling system is specially designed for the chickens’ welfare. At the farm, the chickens are placed in the drawers of a module, then loaded onto the truck. The trailers have roofs, side curtains to protect them from inclement weather, and plenty of space and airflow in and between modules.
All trailers are designed with air suspension. At the plant, the drawers slide out of the modules and processed into Slow Induction Anesthesia where the birds are put to sleep before they are hung on a processing line.
Because of government regulations, closing higher labor cost processing plants, lower cost growing facilities and many other reasons, baby chickens going to the farm and mature chickens going to market may travel many hours on the highway.
All of our family farms are less than one hour average driving time to the farm from the hatchery and the same distance from the farm to the processing plant.