Unlike the conditions you may have seen depicted in Food Inc., our chicken houses are state-of-the-art and very clean. We build our houses with cement floors that have a raised lip on the sides. It makes it easier to clean and guarantees rodents cannot tunnel under the floor and up into the house. Rodents are the major cause of salmonella and campylobacter, and their presence is very stressful to chickens.
After each flock of chickens, we remove all manure and litter then thoroughly clean and disinfect the house. The house remains empty for approximately two weeks to make sure any virus life cycle has been broken, to protect the next flock. Then a new bed of clean, wood shavings is laid down…unlike other poultry producers who just add new litter on top of old manure.
Before the chicks arrive at the farm, the temperature in the house is raised to 90-92°. Chickens are very sensitive to temperature. If it’s too hot, they get stressed. If it’s too cold, they get stressed. Our houses have cutting-edge electronic systems that monitor all conditions in the house, to provide year-round climate control and to insure optimal temperature and air quality in the house.
Fresh litter and constant fresh air circulation keep dust and ammonia in the house to a minimum. If you saw Food Inc., you’ll remember the people in the houses were having difficulty breathing, so much ammonia had built up in the house. We never have that problem, because we don’t leave that old manure in the house. Also our chickens don’t suffer from hock burns. These marks are where the ammonia from the waste of other birds has burned through the skin on the bird’s leg. It’s painful and totally unnecessary.
We have a new video coming out at the end of the year. It will be available for you to see on our new website. When you watch it, you’ll see for yourself the steps we take to make sure our chicks are healthy and happy.
In my next entry, I want to talk about the chickens’ life at the farm.