Going where some rivals and fast-food chains have already gone, one of the nation’s largest poultry producers, Tyson Foods, announced Monday that it will go antibiotic free by the end of the year.
In making its move, Tyson Foods joins competitors like Perdue and Pilgrim’s Pride. Also, it mirrors some major fast food and quick service restaurant chains. KFC announced last month it will rid of its chicken of antibiotics by the end of 2018. Also going without antibiotics are McDonald’s, Burger King, Panera, Chipotle, Taco Bell and Wendy’s.
Tyson said its antibiotic-free pledge will apply to poultry it sells in supermarkets under it own Tyson label. For Tyson and the others, the move is being driven by consumer demand for food free of anything deemed unnatural, whether it’s antibiotics, preservatives or something else. Consumer Reports magazine found in a 2015 survey that one of four shoppers were buying meat and poultry without antibiotics more often than they had in the prior year.
I’m very happy to feature a guest post on using livestock guardian dogs to protect poultry. This is perhaps the most challenging task we ask of these dogs, since poultry are not their traditional stock.
I’m so pleased that Anna Abney offered to share this useful information with Mother Earth readers. Anna Abney is the founder of the popular Facebook group Learning About LGDs and a professional dog trainer in upstate South Carolina. She also raises laying chickens, meat ducks, meat rabbits, and pack goats as well as working Central Asian Shepherd Dogs.
Livestock Guardian Dogs and Poultry
Many modern homesteaders and farmers are turning to livestock guardian dogs to protect their chickens and ducks and other barnyard fowl. Poultry are particularly vulnerable to predators, which often limits the poultry farmer’s ability to free range her flock. A well-trained, reliable LGD can prevent losses from predators and allow the poultry farmer to achieve a more natural, healthy lifestyle for her birds. However, poultry are not traditional livestock for LGDs to protect so using them with birds presents special challenges. Not every LGD will turn out to be a trustworthy poultry guardian even with the best training and genetics but there are a few things you can do to maximize your chances for success. The first step with any working LGD is to purchase a dog from a reliable breeder with good references who can prove the working heritage of her dogs.
Some might say that chickens are the new cats – keeping backyard poultry as pets is on the rise for a variety reasons.
“Whether it’s fresh eggs, or whether it’s to raise a flock of meat for the freezer, it’s just been going up and up and up and up.”
Scott DeMoranville and his family run 4Ds farm in Bradford.
They hatch about 4,000 chicks to sell every year.
He fields questions from other folks trying their hand at raising poultry – like what do chickens need in the winter?
“Chickens don’t require heat, they require some planning and good keeping on the owners part.”
That means a house to protect birds from the wind – and one with good ventilation.
DeMoranville advises against heat lamps – because they can start fires…and also against insulation, because that creates moisture, which in turn, will give the birds frostbite.
“I’ve done my share of reading and studying and I’ve learned from experience through the years and I’m happy to share what has worked for us.”
A big tip from DeMoranville is bio-security – he says it’s important humans keep clean when tending to the flock.
“We have shoes or boots and clothes that we wear on the farm for doing our chores when we’re going to be in the pen and that’s where they stay, they stay on our farm.”
He also says something as simple as washing your hands will help the chickens stay healthy.
“Anything short of putting our chickens in a glass dome is not going to guarantee they’re health but anything that we do. It’s really simple and it really makes a big difference in minimizing disease and things like that getting into the backyard poultry flocks.”
A program that connects kids with the joys of raising chickens is hosting an essay contest.
It’s open to boys and girls under 12.
The winner will be given a new coop, six young birds, a hen yard, a feeder, a water fountain, and a bag of feed a month.
Kids who want to enter should write an essay no longer than two hundred words, in their own handwriting, that explains why they think keeping chickens would benefit their family.
Summer is not a great season for the poultry industry. Oppressive heat, increase in feed costs and depleting groundwater levels tell on production.
This year’s drought in the southern States and transport strike have only added to the problems, resulting in a 20-25 per cent price drop.
The overall cost of production has gone up by 10 per cent, making it difficult to maintain healthy profit margins.
“The drought is manifested in depletion of ground water. The bore wells are slowly drying up. As the summer progresses, it will be tough arranging water for the farms,” Dr Ranjit Reddy, President of the Telangana Poultry Breeders’ Association President, told BusinessLine..
The strike by transporters is only adding to the woes. Poultry farms are finding it difficult to get feed, and send their eggs and broilers to the market, because of the transport strike. “For now, they are managing with the stocks in the farms nearby. If the strike lasts a few more days, it will be very tough for the farms,” said Reddy.
The State produces 3 crore eggs a day and 4 crore kg of chicken a month. “We see a drop of 10 per cent in production in layers at the end of March. The mortality rate of birds, which is generally at 2 per cent, has gone up to 10 per cent,” he said.
The farm gate prices of eggs have to ₹2.65 from ₹3.25 a month ago, and that of broiler chicken to ₹65 a kg from ₹85-88.
Subba Raju, who is a leader of the National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC), said the farms are witnessing a loss of ₹5-7 a bird a month due to the increase in production costs.
The situation is no different in Karnataka. The rise in temperature and water scarcity created by deficit rains over successive years have added to the woes of poultry farmers in the State, who are already battling rising production costs amid lower prices.
“The abnormal temperatures this year, which are higher by at least one degree over the normal, have resulted in higher mortality of the birds. As a result, the output could be lower by 5-6 per cent in Karnataka,” said Ashok Kumar KS, President of the Karnataka Poultry Farmers and Breeders Association.
“The mortality of birds has risen to 15-20 per cent in parts of Karnataka bordering Maharashtra. We expect the mortality to go up in other parts of the State as temperatures are seen rising further,” he added.
Ashok Kumar further said the water shortage on account of depleting ground water table across the State has forced poultry players to reduce the numbers of birds placed. The erratic power supply has also impacted operations, resulting in higher production costs.
With the drought affecting the quality and quantity of maize crop in Karnataka, poultry players will now have to depend on arrivals from Bihar till the next crop comes up in the State. “This would mean higher production costs for us in the days ahead,” he added.
Besides the climatic vagaries, poultry players also face the threat of bird flu. “Bird flu is like a hanging sword on us,” Ashok Kumar said.
NEW DELHI, APRIL 19:
The US has blocked India’s request for a compliance panel on its revised guidelines on poultry imports, taken up by the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB).
“The US said it saw no valid legal basis for India’s assertion of compliance and that inconsistencies found by the WTO in its original rules remain. A compliance panel at this time would not contribute to a prompt resolution of the dispute,” an official familiar with the details of the meeting told BusinessLine.
The setback to India, however, is only temporary, as its second request for a panel cannot be blocked.
“It was expected that the US would block India’s request as, by asking for a panel, India is trying to bring to an end the controversy that has been created around its sanitary and phytosanitary rules. The country’s new guidelines on avian influenza (bird flu) are in strict adherence to the WTO’s decision on the matter and it would now want a formal decision on the matter,” a trade expert from a Delhi-based research body said.
New Delhi had lost a case at the WTO in 2015 filed by Washington against restrictions that prevented American industry from selling poultry products, including chicken legs, in the Indian market.
Last year, India made changes in its rules on bird flu to bring it in line with the DSB’s ruling. It made further changes in its rules after its discussions with the US, to take care of specific concerns including recognition of disease-free and low pest areas.
Under the revised rules, India gave recognition to the concept of disease-free areas and areas of low pest or disease prevalence.
This means supply of poultry can continue from a disease-free area of a country even if the disease is prevalent in another area of that country. Moreover, areas of low pest or disease are also not to be treated at part with high pest regions.
The US, however, continues to be dissatisfied with the changes made by India and want the rules to be further refined to give more comfort to its poultry industry to do business in India.
If India lifts import restrictions on poultry, it could open the doors for cheap chicken legs from America and significantly impact the local industry.
According to industry estimates, the US could potentially take away 40 per cent of the market of domestic breeders, who produce 3.5 million tonnes of chicken annually.