The following letter to the editor was published in the January 7, 2016 edition of the Fairfield Ledger.
Report on Organic Chicken House in County
by Diane Rosenberg
Executive Director, Jefferson County Farmers & Neighbors, Inc.
certified organic farmer in Jefferson County is planning an independent
16,000-head organic chicken house to sell eggs to a well-known national organic
of facility is relatively new to Jefferson County. When concerned neighbors
contacted JFAN about potential impacts, we dedicated a fair amount of time for
research. JFAN doesn’t endorse or oppose this operation; rather we are
providing educational information for the community to consider.
chicken house isn’t a CAFO, and the farmer will independently own his chickens.
There is no confinement pit with liquid manure; rather chickens produce dry
litter. The hens will have outdoor access to ample pasture, and no battery
cages are involved. The cooperative maintains higher animal welfare standards
than organic requirements, and the farmer plans to exceed cooperative
building would be designed to minimize odor and noise. At a recent visit to a
similarly designed building with 25% more chickens, neighbors and I detected no
manure smell even when standing in front of an operating fan.
farmer would feed organic grains from his farming operation then fertilize
fields with the organic manure, creating a closed, sustainable system.
address concerns about Avian Flu, JFAN spoke with the Iowa Department of
Agriculture (IDALS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Iowa State
University. IDALS reports 77 Iowa poultry facilities with 31.5 million birds
were affected in 2015. Not all birds were sick when euthanized. When a few
birds were infected, entire flocks were destroyed to prevent the virus from colonizing
and spreading further.
were sickened with the Avian Flu, and the flu didn’t adapt to humans or other
animals. In Asia, the Asian Flu infected some people that lived with their
chickens and had prolonged exposure. However, the Asian Flu is a different
strain than Avian Flu.
experts believe the droppings from wild waterfowl transmitted the Avian Flu
during migration. The virus doesn’t sicken waterfowl but can adapt to domestic
poultry. They believe the virus was tracked into chicken operations, incubating
over a period of time before adapting to commercial flocks.
considers the risk of human transmission low. The virus is not hearty; over 200
EPA-approved disinfectants can inactivate the flu, including heat.
was strengthened in poultry facilities to prevent flu infections. Industrial
chicken operations containing 100,000 – 1 million or more chickens employ more
staff therefore have greater risk of spreading the flu from biosecurity lapses.
organic chicken house in Jefferson County is a smaller family-run operation,
and the birds will have contact with fewer humans. The cooperative requires
extensive biosecurity measures. The Avian Flu affected none of its 100 organic
egg producers last year.
16,000 chickens isn’t large by industry standards, it is still large enough for
neighbors to legitimately question its impact. While it appears to be a humane
and environmentally better alternative to CAFOs, an evaluation of this facility
should be made in the light of objective information.
website for a more extensive article on the chicken house and Avian Flu.
Click here for the extended article on the chicken house and Avian Flu.