Commercial Cage Free Egg Production – Bigger Cage, Just As Crowded

This video promotes an engineering feat – the industrialization of cage free buildings for egg production.

https://cagefree.summitlivestock.com/

Even thinking about producing 1.1 billion eggs in only 10 layer houses in only 3 sites in the US is scary.   They never show how the building looks from the inside (ie-hen view) but it’s pretty clear from the other video stills/links provided at the end how it will be.  The “cage” is bigger and the amount of space provided is pretty much the same – way too small for a living animal.

People think they are doing a good thing by buying cage free eggs but big industry has figured a way to claim the tag phrase without allowing the hens to live like chickens.  “Free range” has similar issues although arguably somewhat better for the hens as they are only crammed wing to wing at night (vs 24 x 7).

Use your money to provide good lives for hens by buying your eggs from a local small farmer where the hens ARE cage free!

Dominique Hen Looking at Catnip

Shetland Wool Week 2017 Free Pattern Released

Shetland Wool Week 2017 Hat Knitting Pattern

Free Knitting Pattern

The official 2017 Shetland Wool Week ‘Bousta Beanie’ knitting pattern has been exclusively designed by Wool Week Patron Gudrun Johnston.

Knit the hat in any of the suggested colour variations, or come up with your own colour scheme, and wear it to Shetland Wool Week 2017 – identify your fellow Wool Weekers and compare hats at the opening ceremony!

To receive the pattern all you need to do is complete the form (at link below), and remember to share your pictures using #boustabeanie or #shetlandwoolweek2017, we can’t wait to see your creations.

Ravelry Source = https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/bousta-beanie

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If Alicia Silverstone was naked and telling you all wool clothing was bad, would you believe her?

Not I….as an animal lover and long time sheep and goat owner I can say with confidence that fiber animals need to be shorn for their health and it does not have to be a frightening experience.  They don’t like having their feet trimmed either but if left untrimmed they would go lame.  Nature is far more cruel than a caring owner, and every second of life is not completely idyllic for any of us.

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If Alicia Silverstone was naked and telling you all wool clothing was bad, would you believe her?

 

PETA, the animal rights organization, has a reputation for employing the oldest marketing trick in the book: selling their message with sex.

The latest example? Their campaign to raise awareness of animal abuse in the wool industry, which features a poster of Alicia Silverstone walking naked into a meadow, her head turned over her shoulder, looking back at you with seductive, pleading eyes. The caption reads, “I’d rather go naked than wear wool.”

Pamela Anderson, the singer Pink, and a handful of other celebrities have also bared all for the cause.

The PETA creed is that “animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.” In other words, keeping livestock for purposes of human consumption, whether in a factory-farming setting or a small organic farm, is ethically reprehensible. PETA is well known for popularizing veganism and exposing animal rights abuses around the world. But livestock farmers, unsurprisingly, have long despised their shock and awe tactics, which have a tendency to paint all farmers as evil animal abusers.

PETA’s current sheep campaign—typically broadcast with the tagline, “there is no such thing as humane wool”—was launched in 2014 after the organization released footage of sheep being cut, manhandled, and mangled at wool-shearing operations in the US and Australia. The effort got major press coverage around the world, and led to the prosecution of several of the Australian shearers who were depicted in the footage on animal abuse charges. Now that Alicia Silverstone has put her skin in the game (pun intended), PETA’s wool campaign is back in the media once again.

Wool producers, along with a number of large agriculture organizations, have fought back. In Australia, the Victoria Farming Federation filed a formal complaint when a locally popular vegan musician was featured in PETA ads holding a bloodied lamb carcass with the caption, “here’s the rest of your wool coat.” It turned out the carcass was made of Styrofoam. PETA admitted to using a prop, but maintains that it was a realistic illustration of the horrors of shearing.

A skilled shearer needs just two minutes per sheep, and at worst, leaves a scrape or two no more gory than minor shaving cut. As far as viewing the sheep’s resistance to the practice as an indicator of cruelty, she suggests one might consider the challenges of bathing an uncooperative child or dog.

Animal abuse is far too common an occurrence with pets kept by demented individuals everywhere. And as PETA’s undercover sheep investigation clearly shows, along with many others that have preceded it, some abusive individuals (unfortunately) make their living handling livestock on farms throughout the world. The question is, is abuse the norm? Are examples of abuse at a few sheep ranches enough to indict an entire industry?

We thought it would be worth asking a wool producer who claims to raise their sheep in a sustainable, humane manner how their practices differ from what PETA ascribes to all wool producers. Becky Weed, owner of Thirteen Mile Lamb & Wool Company in southwestern Montana, was a little reluctant to take the call from Modern Farmer, as she’s been caught in the crosshairs of the animal cruelty debate before and has better things to do than argue with activists about whether or not raising sheep is inherently evil.

“I am wary of PETA,” says Weed, right off the bat. “I don’t think it’s a particularly rational organization…I think animal welfare is important, but I don’t believe that raising sheep is by definition cruel.”

Her harsh words stem from PETA’s unwillingness to acknowledge the many farmers who make humane animal care a top priority, throwing animal-loving ranchers like Weed under the bus as they expose the horrors of the industrial livestock industry.

Weed, who also operates an artisanal-scale solar-powered wool processing facility on her property, says she would like to think that PETA would see folks like her as an ally. Her farm is certified organic, she goes above and beyond the most stringent animal welfare standards, and her sheep have free range on pristine Montana prairie. With 160 acres for her 100 or so ewes, Weed’s sheep are stocked at an extremely low density that’s good for the animals and good for the land. She says PETA would have the support of a lot more farmers if they didn’t paint them all the same way.

“There are things that happen in industrial farming that are outrageously indefensible,” says Weed. “Like cramming poultry in tiny cages, putting cattle in feedlots where they are standing in their own manure up to their knees, and feeding ruminants a diet heavy in grains when they have evolved to live on grass. I’m the last person who will defend them. But practices like shearing sheep just pale by comparison. I wish they would focus their efforts where the really serious problems are.”

PETA is correct, says Weed, in noting that sheep often resist being shorn and must be restrained. It’s also true that minor cuts and nicks are part and parcel to shearing, though Weed says the savage shearing shown in the PETA videos, where some sheep appear to have massive wounds with loose, bloodied flaps of skins visible, are signs of either a demented, or untrained and extremely careless, shearer.

A skilled shearer, she says, needs just two minutes per sheep, and at worst, leaves a scrape or two no more gory than minor shaving cut. As far as viewing the sheep’s resistance to the practice as an indicator of cruelty, she suggests one might consider the challenges of bathing an uncooperative child or dog. They don’t love it, but it’s one of those necessary inconveniences.

Wild sheep naturally shed their thick winter coat in spring, but domesticated sheep have been bred over millennia to have an unnaturally thick coat, which, as we’ve reported before, never stops growing. Older sheep become accustomed to the routine and put up little or no resistance. Perhaps they realize it’s for the best: after several years without shearing, the wool becomes suffocatingly hot and can restrict the sheep’s movement.

Excess wool also predisposes sheep to infections and parasites, which is why the American Society of Animal Science responded to PETA’s sheep campaign with one of their own. The tagline read: “There is no such thing as humane wool when it is left on the sheep.”

Weed says “our sheep act super happy and animated after they get shorn…they seem happy to get rid of their wool. Occasionally there may be some cuts, but I’d wager I cut and bruise and bleed more often myself working on the ranch than my sheep do when they’re shorn. I think it’s one of the least cruel things that happens to animals in agriculture.”

We invited PETA to respond to Weed’s assertion that shearing, when done right, is benign. We also inquired whether they agreed that there is typically a big difference in the treatment of animals at industrial livestock operations versus small-scale producers. We sent them a series of questions to this effect to which they replied only with the following statement:

“Sheep are prey animals, so unless they’re left alone, they’re terrified. The size of the farm doesn’t matter. Even on small farms, they’re often herded with vehicles or dogs, forced into a shearing shed, and pinned down and sheared. Even the most careful shearer often cuts these struggling, panicked, and stressed animals. The only way to ensure that no sheep has suffered for our clothing is to shop vegan.”

Becky Weed would certainly contend that there are indeed humane sources of wool clothing available. She’s one of 44 humane wool producers in North America certified by Animal Welfare Approved. And there is a new wool-specific welfare certification on the humane livestock scene, which is called the Responsible Wool Standard. They just certified their first producers this year: two in Australia, one in Uruguay, and one in Oregon.

Pushed by major clothing brands, such as Patagonia, Eileen Fisher and H & M, RWS is geared for the large-scale producers that supply the vast majority of the world’s wool supply, and came about in part due to the negative publicity generated by the PETA exposé.

So even if the group’s point of view is a little, shall we say, un-nuanced, perhaps PETA is still giving a needed boost to the ethical livestock movement anyways by helping to convince the world’s largest livestock operations that consumers actually do expect them to provide the same level of care for their animals as is often found on the smallest of family farms.

 

Source: https://modernfarmer.com/2017/01/alicia-silverstone-naked-telling-wool-clothing-bad-believe/

 

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Gene-edited chickens to help preserve rare breeds

Hens that do not produce their own chicks have been developed for use as surrogates to lay eggs from rare breeds.  The advance – using gene-editing techniques – could help to boost breeding of endangered birds, as well as improving production of commercial hens, researchers say.

DNA deletion

A team led by the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute used a genetic tool called TALEN to delete a section of chicken DNA.

They targeted part of a gene called DDX4, which is crucial for bird fertility.

Infertile

Hens with the genetic modification were unable to produce eggs but were otherwise healthy, the team found.  DDX4 plays an essential role in the generation of specialised cells – called primordial germ cells – which give rise to eggs.

Surrogate hens

Researchers say that primordial germ cells from other bird breeds could be implanted into eggs carrying the gene edited birds.  The hens would then grow up to produce eggs containing all of the genetic information from the other breeds.

These chickens are a first step in saving and protecting rare poultry breeds from loss in order to preserve future biodiversity of our poultry from both economic and climate stresses.

Dr Mike McGrew, The Roslin Institute

First in Europe

The surrogate chickens are the first gene-edited birds to be produced in Europe. Scientists from the US biotechnology company Recombinetics also worked on the project.

The study is published in the journal Development and was funded by strategic investment from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Related links

Journal article

Source: https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/2017/gene-edited-chickens-to-help-preserve-rare-breeds

Secret to making no-smell socks is kids’ play, says Devon farmer

Nice article from the Guardian….the strength, smoothness and gorgeous ability to drink up dye are well known mohair properties but I’ve never heard about anti-backerial properties of kid mohair!


‘Steve Whitley uses the fleece of his young angora goats in hosiery that ‘can be worn for as much as a year without washing.

Mohair from angora kids is said to prevent bacterial buildup by drawing sweat away from the skin.

A Devon farmer is claiming to have invented by accident socks that don’t smell and don’t need washing.

Steve Whitley said the fleece of angora kid goats does not trap smelly bacteria in the same way as scalier wool or cotton fibres, and his mohair socks can be worn for as much as a year without washing. Originally he sold the socks for their comfort and durability, and it was only the feedback from astonished customers that alerted him to their unique selling point.

“Customers began telling us that they could wear them for days without them becoming stiff or smelly,” said Whitley, 65. “It was the men who were more forthcoming about this, but then women began writing in. One orchestra leader boasted that he’d had his for a year without washing them.”

Bear Grylls, Fiona Bruce and Stephen Fry were among celebrities who snapped up his Corrymoor Mohair brand, which he claimed “can be worn day after day, week after week, in extreme conditions without any problems from foot odour or discomfort”.

Mohair, shorn from angora goats, is prized in the fashion world for its strength, warmth and resilience. Less well known is that the first shearings from kids are highly absorbent and prevent bacterial buildup by drawing sweat away from the skin.

The products, which cost around £10 a pair, are good news for a nation which, according to new findings, loses 84 million socks a month in the wash. Research commissioned by Samsung discovered that the average Briton will mislay £2,528 worth of dirty socks over a lifetime.

Whitley said he wears the same pair of socks round the farm for up to a fortnight before entrusting them to the laundry basket. Grylls, Bruce and Fry were among a dozen celebrities who promised to report back on how long theirs can withstand the heat.

They have a challenging record to break. “We received a letter from a lady who had recently lost her husband,” says Whitley. “He was so attached to his socks that he asked to be buried in them.”’

Source: Secret to making no-smell socks is kids’ play, says Devon farmer

2016 International Heritage Breeds Week – How You Can Help

IHBW_Square_Ad
“1 in 5 breeds of the world’s farm animals is on the verge of extinction”

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

The easiest way to help is to use rare breed products and services!

Find a local farmer that sells fresh, healthy rare breed products. By giving these breeds and farmers a job, we help ensure their futures.  Help rare breed populations grow by purchasing products like meat, milk, eggs, and fiber from heritage breeds.

You can search for products by location on Local Harvest (then check farm listing for breeds raised) or on the Livestock Conservancy (members that sell heritage breed products).

I’m listed on both.  My eggs are generally sold out in advance but there’s always lots of fiber looking for a new home!

https://www.localharvest.org/dancing-waters-farm-M10518

NOTE:  the Livestock Conservancy product directory search is down for updates as of today (May 5, 2016).  If you join, members get a paper version of the directory.

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2016 Livestock Conservancy Conservation Priority List

Good news for poultry breeds!  I love my rare chickens and am thrilled to be helping preserve these breeds for the future (Australorp, Chantecler, Delaware, Dominique, Favorelle).


Delaware, Australorp, Dominique, Ameraucana Hens

Delaware, Australorp, Dominique, Ameraucana Hens

Dominique Hen in Wildflowers

Dominique Hen in Wildflowers

Australorp Hen Meets Salmon Favorelle Chick 4 Weeks Old

Australorp Hen Meets Salmon Favorelle Chick 4 Weeks Old

Pittsboro, NC  [May 4, 2016] – Today, The Livestock Conservancy is releasing its 2016 Conservation Priority List, and is excited to report that overall trends in North America are improving for endangered livestock and poultry breeds. 25 breeds have improved in status, 12 have declined, and 3 have been added to the list. 2 breeds of chickens, Orpingtons and Wyandottes, now have secure populations and are no longer at risk of extinction.

The majority of changes this year have occurred in the poultry categories, because The Livestock Conservancy recently completed an extensive nationwide poultry census, which polled thousands of poultry keepers to determine the population status of more than 90 poultry breeds. It revealed that more than 25% of poultry breeds’ populations grew in the past ten years.

“Even with the progress we have made in some breeds, many others still have a long way to go” said Dr. Alison Martin, the Conservancy’s executive director. According to a recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, at least 17% of breeds worldwide are at risk of extinction.¹ In North America, the percentage of endangered breeds is much higher than average due to highly specialized agriculture, in which production is dominated by just a few breeds.

“The Livestock Conservancy’s priority list serves as the guide for our conservation efforts and shows us which breeds need the most help,” said Martin. “Some breeds like Choctaw hogs, Crèvecoeur chickens, and Caspian horses are actually much more rare than endangered wildlife species that most people are familiar with.” The Conservancy currently lists 51 breeds as Critically Endangered, meaning that they could easily become extinct without careful monitoring and breeding strategies in place. An additional 113 breeds are in less critical categories, but are still in need of conservation.
Source: https://livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage/internal/conservation-priority-list

What to do with all that yarn and cold kids?

Source: Goats born in Cumberland this week rock wool sweaters

My kids were always dressed in diapers with the crotch cut out to fit over their heads as they made nice disposable sweaters!  Back then I hadn’t taught myself to knit and didn’t have fencing to separate does and bucks so that I could plan births for more reasonable weather months!

Little Guy (aka LG) in Diaper ( Jan. 2000)

Little Guy (aka LG) in Diaper ( Jan. 2000)

 

For fun videos from Sunflower Farm check out their YouTube of kids in pajamas:

and quad kids with what looks like an Australorp hen:

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Romney Ewe Gives Birth to Sextuplets

County Tyrone sheep at Shannon farm gives birth to rare sextuplet lambs

  • 1 April 2016  [Not an April’s Fool joke!]

Romney lambs

The daughter is as cute (maybe more) than the lambs!  Rare case of sextuplets born to a Romney ewe in Ireland.

Sheep and goats typically have 2 udders although they may have more.  More than 2 are considered a fault in pure breeds, particularly dairy breeds.  Defies logic as cows have 4 (more is possible but a fault and are removed! if the cows are to be used for dairying) and only give birth to one or two calves at most while it is not rare for a sheep to have triplets.   It is not rare for a few sheep breeds such as Finns to have quads but sextuplets are rare in any sheep breed.

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-foyle-west-35941274

Update on the Geep – Sheep Goat Hybrid Born March 2014

The return of the geep: two years on

By Amy McShane on 29 January 2016
The geep is now two years old.
Born to a Cheviot ewe in March 2014, see below for original story.

‘It’s been almost two years on from the birth of the sheep-goat hybrid.

‘ A farm in Kildare is home to the geep, who was born in March 2014. Owner of the farm Paddy Murphy said at the time that “it had all the hallmarks of a goat. He looks like a goat trapped in a lamb’s body.””

Source: https://www.farmersjournal.ie/the-return-of-the-geep-two-years-on-199305

Geep: Rare ‘goat-sheep’ born on Irish farm (4 April 2014)

The ewe and her geep
The lamb-kid looks quite different from the adult!
Farmer Paddy Murphy and his unnamed 'geep'
‘ The sheep farmer, who also owns Murphy’s pub in Ballymore Eustace, County Kildare, spoke to the journal in a interview headlined: Ewe gotta be kidding.

“I’ve never seem anything like him before,” he told the Irish Farmers Journal, adding that his family had been involved in sheep farming for “generations”.

‘Unbelievable’

Mr Murphy confirmed that the geep appeared to be healthy and “thriving” and was able to run faster than other lambs that were born around the same time.

“He’s unbelievable,” he said. “He’s so fast you’d have to get him into the pen to catch him. There’s no chance you would catch him otherwise.” ‘

Source:  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26870598