A Wisconsin judge has ruled that owners of cows do not have the right to consume milk from their own cow.
The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund reported on this in detail and you can find the link at the end of this blog.
Among other things, Dane county Judge Circuit Court Judge Patrick J. Fiedler clarified his rulings by stating Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice.
I want to use this crazy ruling in Wisconsin to once again say if you are a farmer that values the right to produce and direct market your goods, you need to join the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund.
If you are a consumer who believes you have the right to consume foods of your choosing, you need to support the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund.
The FTCLDF is on the forefront of helping small farms keep, and take back, our rights to produce and consume foods of our choosing.
August we were pulling broilers from one of our movable pens on pasture
in the pouring down rain. Two pullets ended up escaping into the nearby
Since I wasn't really in the mood to chase two fugitives
in the middle of a downpour, we let them go thinking "they will be
lucky to make through the night."
The next day dawned bright and
sunny. By mid afternoon I hadn't seen hide nor hair of them errr, hide
nor feather of them so I assumed a fox or some other varmint had scored a
midnight meal at my expense.
The Mrs. wasn't happy about it but what can you do? I asked. Besides they were going to be dead anyway.
second day to my surprise one of them showed up at the edge of the
trees! So one of them did make it. I watched to see if the other would
show and after an our or so and only one chicken I thought well one of
them didn't make it and tonight will be the end of this one.
next day they both were out in the grass pecking around in the grass.
Wow wrong again, better give'em some feed and water and see if I can get
close enough in the next couple of days to catch them...if they make it
I wasn't taking into account that these birds are from heritage breed genetics. These aren't the Cornish cross
birds we used to raise. These suckers roosted that night in an old
stump about six feet off the ground at the edge of the field.
they just might be around awhile as I start to catch on. (it takes me
awhile sometimes) I mentioned to the Mrs. the birds were still here and
showed her out the kitchen window where they had perched at dusk. She
looked out and saw them and promptly announced "then they're staying
here since they made it this far."
Any of you who know my wife
outside of gracious host when you come to visit the farm, know when she
lays down a decree it will be that way or else!
After a couple of
weeks they got more comfortable and began to venture up to the barn and
the front porch and anywhere else they felt like going. And as if by
some built in knowing they always made it a point to come see the Mrs.
anytime she was outside and even began running up to her car when she
pulled in the driveway like she was their long lost mother!
to justify keeping them verses admitting I had to keep them per the
Mrs. I began to wonder if they would make layers. Sure enough at about
17 weeks (I kept track of the time) they began to go into the goats pen
in the corner and lay their eggs.
They are almost 100% on an egg a
day... not bad for birds that are designed to be meat chickens. I've
even started making sure the "girls", as the Mrs. calls them, have a bit
of feed since the weather is turning cold.
If you're wondering if Freedom Rangers will make decent layers I say yes they will!
I eat two medium brown eggs for breakfast every morning and remember how two pullets escaped on a rainy day in August.
Folks often ask me "what's the difference in pastured poultry and free range?"
for the most part it depends on who is defining it! Grocery stores
would want you to believe that "free range" or "pastured" means the
birds are free to roam around outside and range for bugs and grass and
live the life every chicken dreams of.
But most of the time it means in the industrial setting, they have a minimum amount of access to the outside.
It might be dirt and completely devoid of bugs or grass but they met the requirements to advertise free range.
the small farmer it can mean different things as well. I've seen birds
turned out in the day and locked back into the coop at night.
know farmers who have a chicken "run" that lets the bird outside but
unless moved frequently to another area it quickly becomes not only
devoid of bugs and grass, but becomes a breeding ground for pathogens.
What do we do here at Spring Hill Farms with our pastured poultry?
We use movable, floor-less, pens. These pens are moved daily and depending on the age of the bird, could be moved twice a day.
also think that electrified poultry netting is a very good option as
well. Provided the birds are moved to fresh pasture as needed.
Why don't we let our birds roam around? The number one reason is predators.
the decline in hunting and trapping of fur bearing animals and
varmints, the farmer is over run with Raccoons, Fox, Coyotes, Weasels,
Mink, Opossum, and who knows what I forgot.
These are all dangers to your poultry flock.
work in co operation with nature and wildlife but there is no sense in
tempting animals to get a free, easy meal by leaving our pastured
poultry or laying hens completely exposed to danger.
Another reason we prefer movable pens and poultry netting is we can control the birds access to harmful pathogens.
that free range or roam about freely tend to roost in the same places
night after night. Farmers tend to feed them in the same place day after
Both of these practices can lead to a build up of pathogens in those feeding/sleeping areas.
Spring Hill Farms we strive to raise animals with the least amount of
inputs to keep them happy healthy and robust. Reducing harmful pathogen
loads is the first step in that journey.
This is done through
intensive management not medicating. On the surface it seems easier to
drop some chemical wormers or antibiotics into the animal and fore go
the moving pens everyday.
But it is actually easier to avoid health problems than try to fix them.
From the health standpoint for the consumer we believe it gives us a superior product in taste, texture and health.
Let's look at the idea of moving pens daily.
of all this automatically reduces pathogen loads by moving away from
yesterdays lounging area and providing new ground for the birds.
it provides fresh grass of our choosing not the birds. When birds free
range roam about you'll find they lounge in the same areas, (pathogen
problem) and range fairly close to the lounging area.
lazy by nature. They will not go long distances just because the grass
is better. And at some point if the area gets poor enough and large
enough, the birds will have played out the range they are used to and
need more grain and are really no different than a grocery store chicken
at that point.
We work hard to mimic nature when raising
livestock, wether it's chickens, pigs, or goats we think as natural as
possible is best.
The Freedom Rangers birds we use are aggressive
foragers by nature. Unlike the industry standard Cornish Cross or
Cornish X, which is lazy and fast growing by nature.
We have raised them in the past and found them to be undesirable in a system such as ours.
I actually blogged about the problems with Cornish Cross Chickens. You can read it here.
the video below to see these birds going after forage. They consume
forage like a heritage breed bird because they are derived from heritage
Aggressive foragers means more CLA's and Omega 3's in your poultry.
Watch the video here to see what Professor Crawford of Britain has to say after 30 years of studying the nutritional value of chicken.
is very concerned with the levels of Omega 3 fatty acids being almost
nonexistent in chicken. He even says it could cause mental illness to
skyrocket in the years ahead.
Here's an excerpt from Paris Reidhead's article:
CLAs & Omega-3s: Pasture Health Benefits Passed Transferred to People.
laboratory animals, a very small percentage of CLA—a mere 0.1 percent
of total calories—greatly reduced tumor growth. CLA may also reduce
cancer risk in humans. In a Finnish study, women who had the highest
levels of CLA in their diet, had a 60 percent lower risk of breast
cancer than those with the lowest levels. Similarly, French researchers
measured CLA levels in the breast tissues of 360 women. In fact, the
women with the most CLA had a staggering 74% lower risk of breast cancer
than the women with the least CLA.
Switching from grain-fed to
grass-fed meat and dairy products places women in this lowest risk
category. Researcher Tilak Dhiman, PhD., from Utah State University
estimates that persons may be able to lower their risk of cancer simply
by eating the following grass-fed products each day: one glass of whole
milk, one ounce of cheese, and one serving of meat. One must consume
five times that amount of grain-fed meat and dairy products to get the
same level of protection.
are polyunsaturated fatty acids found in leafy green vegetables,
vegetable oils, and fish such as salmon and mackerel. Omega-3s reduce
serum cholesterol levels and are anticoagulants. Grazing livestock also
yield abundant omega-3s in their meat and dairy products, almost as much
as the oils from the above-cited fish. (Such claims cannot be made for
has been estimated that only 40 percent of Americans consume an
adequate supply of Omega-3 fatty acids. Twenty percent of U.S. citizens
have blood levels so low in Omega-3s as to be undetectable. Switching to
the meat, milk, and dairy products of grass-fed animals is one way to
restore this vital nutrient to their diet.
It is increasingly
evident that eating pasture-based animal products greatly benefits human
health. This fact spotlights the need for producers to stress elements
of animal husbandry, specifically pasture management, which maximize the
intake, by grazing animals, of CLAs, Omega-3s, and natural vitamins.
More and more, informed consumers expect and demand these health
elements in their animal products. Dairy and livestock people who meet
those demands should be rewarded accordingly......
If you're in central Ohio and looking for grass-fed meats give us a call or email, we'd be glad to help you out.
Cornish Cross are the industry standard for meat birds in
the United States. I recently mentioned I had switched to Freedom Ranger chickens and had
several people ask why.
Cornish Cross birds are a lazy bird by nature with an
They basically sit, eat, and get bigger. These are admiral
traits if the only goal is to produce a bird that grows very rapidly and
produces a lot of breast meat.
However, if you sit back and observe this bird for very long
you realize these cleverly select traits come with a price.
Research shows that these birds can gain weight at a rate
faster than their skeletal system can bear.
This shows up as lameness and even broken legs. Another
trait of these birds is they suffer heart failure.
You go to tend the birds, and find one stone dead for no
apparent reason. More than likely it suffered heart failure.
Because they are so selectively bred for certain traits it
can lead to a compromised immune system.
They are a fragile bird that was designed for huge
agri-business to stuff in a confinement barn and feed sub therapeutic
antibiotics to keep them healthy.
The hatchery told me to limit feed them so as to slow the
growth rate down and help curb these health issues.
I did limit their intake of feed, and to a large degree it worked.
But I came to the conclusion you were basically starving them to slow them
They are genetically designed to have an insatiable
appetite. I raise Tamworth pigs on pasture and these birds make them look
polite when it comes to feeding if they have ran out of feed for any
length of time…even on grass.
Which brings up another observation: Freedom Ranger chickens
are a far more aggressive forager of green material then Cornish Cross.
One of the health benefits touted by pastured poultry farmers
is the opportunity for the birds to graze on green grass and bugs.
It made sense to me to use a bird that gets the most out the
environment in which you raise it. Cornish birds were designed as an inside
bird with no thought of foraging, that burns calories!
Contrast that with birds from the Label Rouge program in
France (such as Freedom Rangers) and you see some distinct differences.
They are a healthy robust bird
Freedom Rangers grow slower without the problems associated
with Cornish Cross.
They are much more active foragers.
Customers in taste test when compared to the Cornish Cross prefer Freedom Ranger.
I chose Freedom Rangers because after examining the facts I
felt they were better suited to my model of farming and welfare standards.
Why take a bird that was bred for big business and put it in
an environment that it was never designed for?
I realize pastured poultry farmers while minimizing the
problems outlined here can raise Cornish Cross birds.