Saturday, August 21, 2010
Egg Recall and Bio-security
By now most everyone has heard of the recall of over half a billion eggs due to Salmonella, which has caused illness in probably over 1,000 people. The eggs being recalled have been sold under the name brands of Hillandale Farms, Sunny Farms, Sunny Meadow, Wholesome Farms and West Creek. According to reports on the news, the affected eggs were packaged anywhere from April through August of this year. That's a long stretch!
I explained to my girls that because of the recall, they might be forced into "Overtime Production". They immediately stopped dead in their little chicken tracks, with shocked looks written all over their little hen faces! Lizzy (front left of photo above) reminded me that they only lay one egg per 24 hour period - but perhaps if I provided extra treats of melon and peas, they just MIGHT be able to do an egg every 22 hours.... "Don't rush PERFECTION", she added! We'll find out shortly if the recall increases customer demand. It might necessitate adding a few new "working girls" to the flock!
Neglecting Bio-security Rules at the battery egg farms is apparently the cause of the issues at the Iowa farm. Different rules apply when it comes to large operations and the backyard poultry owner. Large farms require disposable foot gear slid on over shoes or boots, changeable for each separate building housing poultry. Visitors must be supplied with overalls and boots by the farm owner before entering the poultry areas. New hens should never be mixed in a previously established poultry housing unit. Sanitized water must be supplied for the birds in each unit. Birds must not be stressed and the numbers of hens living in each size cage must be enforced to government standards. And, cleanliness of pens and buildings, vaccinations, and rodent control are some things that are always of importance.
For us "Backyard Coop Keepers" who do not own astronomical amounts of hens, certain rules and common sense apply. Clean water, feed stored in rodent-proof containers, and clean dry bedding are the basics. Moldy or wet feed should be removed as soon as discovered. It is always best not to mix ages of hens, since the young ones might get picked on by the older girls, and as an added note, not all breeds of hens will get along, so when introducing hens, be sure to take care and keep a sharp eye out for bullying and hen pecking! Another caveat - do not borrow or share poultry tools with other poultry owners. Infections can be unknowingly spread that way.
I enjoy interaction with my girls, and when I clean the nest boxes every day, they can hardly wait for the new paper shreds to be added to the shavings! The main hen house floor gets debris and dampness removed, so flys are not attracted. It only takes a minute to clear the mess from last evenings Roost Fest, change the "sheets" in the nest boxes, and to replenish the oyster shell calcium and grit in their bowls and trays. Our hen house is manageable and I don't have to ever stoop down for chores or egg collection! I have time to give the girls the "once over" to be sure no one is hurt or ill, and time to scatter some seeds for their entertainment! Cleaning down to the bare bones of the house is done once a week, when everything is dusted for bugs and the shavings are replenished with fresh smelling pine! Sometimes I even add chopped lavender to the mix - it makes it somewhat of a SPA ATMOSPHERE - and lavender is good snacking for the hens, as well!
Happy Hens mean Healthy Eggs!