Wednesday 28 November 2012

Well, If It’s Good Enough For The Potato Farmers…

A few chickens clucking in the back garden provide fresh eggs every morning, more money in your pocket and a little taste of the Good Life. But the 500,000 households across Britain now keeping their own flocks could also pose a major health threat to the poultry industry. Veterinary experts say many of us keeping chickens at home have little understanding of how to control disease in the birds, along with insufficient knowledge of health regulations. They warn this could hasten the spread of disease from backyard flocks to commercial poultry farms.
Gosh! Sound familiar..?

It ought to! It’s the exact same tactic tried recently by the potato farmers!
A survey by the Royal Veterinary College found most back garden flock owners provided their birds with good living conditions. But 75 per cent did not comply with Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs regulations which outlaw birds being fed on kitchen waste. Farmers have been banned from feeding such waste to chickens since 2001, because some agents of disease can survive in household food products.
Yes, they have.

But there’s nothing to stop the homeowner feeding chickens whatever he wants, since the regulations referred to only apply if you are selling the eggs in bulk. Most families keeping chickens are doing so for their own consumption, or that of their friends and relatives.
The survey, published this month in the journal of British Poultry Science, also found lapses in biosecurity, with very few owners keeping human visitors, wild birds and rodents away from their flocks. Few properly vaccinated their birds.
Sensing, perhaps, that this isn’t going to be enough to strike the right level of fear and therefore compliance, they try the ‘Think of the chiiiillldreeen!’ tactic:
Keeping chickens is also a major risk factor for diarrhoea in children since the birds’ droppings can contain the disease agent campylobacter jejuni. More than a third of the chicken keepers surveyed had children, which highlights the risk posed to families.

So, what’s the answer to this grave crisis about to strike the nation? Well, would you believe, making Mr & Mrs Smith compliant with the same regulations as Farmer Giles?
Study co-author Iveta Karabozhilova called for greater regulation of back garden chickens and more communication between householders and health officials.
Yeah, I'll just bet. You can take the sex and travel option, love.


Woman on a Raft said...

Querns and thirlage.

Wheat and other grains store well enough as grain. You take the amount you need for bread, grind it in a quern, take your flour and bake your bread. It's a lot of work and there are some problems such as if the quern stone material is soft and tends to shed in to the flour, so that you grind down your teeth quicker than you would with a better mill.

The real reason, however, that querns were legislated against was to force people to use the landlord's mill and pay for it. Wiki says that in Scotland this thirlage was finally repealed in 2004 by an act coming in to force.

At some point I'm expecting an act which outlaws ovens, cookers and all related open fires so that it is impossible to do so much as make toast on a fork. Then we will be totally state dependent for all food growth, production, distribution and preparation. Standby for animal welfare laws which make it illegal to do any home-killing of anything, including line-caught fish.

In my more paranoid moments I wonder if mad cow disease (CJD) was either allowed or hyped precisely in order to have the excuse to shut down smaller local abattoirs and more closely control the food production chain. Please excuse me, my tinfoil helmet is itching.

Anonymous said...

I am sure that they would like to stop people doing all kinds of things for themselves. A scared and wary population is a compliant one and having to provide for all of the peoples every need justifies higher and higher taxation etc.
The more you do for yourself the less you need the state and the more you resent the cost of running the state.

DJ said...

The bit that really clinched it for me was about keeping 'wild birds and rodents' away.

Is there any non-battery farm in history where they've managed to do that?

Demetrius said...

My grandad used to keep chickens. If I had been good he used to let me strangle them. Happy days.

Richard said...

Interesting. Anna has been banging on about getting chickens for a while now. Having kept them in the past, I didn't really want the hassle again. But now I will reconsider. Just to be awkward.

The Jannie said...

We're safe, then; our Indian runner ducks won't count. They give us a delicious large egg each when the days are longer, cost about a tenner a month to feed and are pure entertainment. Their food also feeds a huge population of house sparrows - they aren't dying out in our garden!

If the chicken police call we'll tell them that we're feeding the endangered sparrows and the ducks came along freeloading.

MTG said...

Nothing irritates the State more than attempts at independence and self sufficiency.

And no reader of this blog would be so devilish as to panic a small army of officials by requesting information on grants towards the cost of a borehole in one's back garden, to supply potable water without the obligatory toxins and chemical waste.

@ WOAR - Querns and thirlage.....Words of the Week!

Twenty_Rothmans said...

Peado cocks run wild!

Thousands of British households unwittingly harbour PAEDOPHILE COCKS, shamelessly inseminating birds UNDER THE AGE OF 10.

"These brutes can't help themselves", said Inspector Flange from the Yard. "They are utterly fowl".

The government has been called upon to deal with the crisis of people harvesting their own potatoes, chickens, belly-button fluff, and most recently, smegme.

Helmut Glans, from the Smegma Producers Society, said: "These amateurs don't know what they're doing. A bit of urine or baby batter in there could undermine the whole industry."

It is understood that the government financed Bottom Wiping Advisory Service is also deeply concerned.

"We want to dig right down there and find out what's going on" said Jane Thackery, unable to find a real fucking job. "We know it's there, and we're in it to winnit"

Mr John Holmes of Luton, a chicken owner sine 1889, said: "It's a sad day when I can't play with my cock because of HSE. I have to tape it all and send it to Mrs Thackery along with a witnessed declaration that I belong to the Labour party. I might stick with the chickens for now."

DerekP said...

Ok, I'm convinced.

I'm going to give up smoking chickens.

...Or at least stop inhaling.

Anonymous said...

This is the other side of the "doing away with red tape" argument. The big producers, who desire to sell (important point that, they are running a business which involves selling eggs and poultry for the maximum profit they can achieve) have to abide by certain "red tape" introduced to attempt to minimize the chances of, oh for example, the eggs they sell in bulk all being coated with a quarter inch layer of "birds’ droppings containing the disease agent campylobacter jejuni. To do this involves them in some cost. They therefore reason that if they have to abide by these regulations proscribed for the industry, then so should everyone who keeps chickens - even if it is just the one - and of course, for that person with the one chicken in the back garden - the cost of complying with such rules would probably be sufficiently high that most would soon stop doing it - as their "home produced eggs" would pretty soon start to cost a hell of a lot more than those they could buy from the supermarket. So, when it suits the big concerns, red tape is "good" - very good, most sensible, protecting public health and guaranteeing quality and stardards and should be applied universally ok? However, when it comes to some of these big concerns being told "you might have to make your battery cages a bit bigger or have fewer chickens in each one, just to improve the lot of the chickens a miniscule amount" well then red tape is very very bad, ok?

Anonymous said...


Didn't the 2001 regulations come about because of some commercial farmers feeding waste from commercial food outlets which had been importing unregulated, contaminated, food from foreign sources. Rather like feeding cows the remains of a chicken tandoori made from contaminated Chinese meat (CJD anyone). This wasn't a case of 'farmer Jones' feeding the scraps from his table.

So, because of a very few unscrupulous producers they now claim you shouldn't feed table scraps, which you will know aren't contaminated since you already ate most of them?

Just once I'd like to read a report which didn't include the obvious hyperbole, hypocrisy, manipulation of the facts to fit a preconceived aim and blatant corruption.

Cogito Ergo Doleo

LJH said...

We are not supposed to survive an unregulated life. Why else do you think bureaucrats evolved?

James Higham said...

Supermarket told me the reason for the comparatively high price of chicken now is the absurdity of regulations on it.

Anonymous said...

Stonyground says:

I make a brilliant vegetarian Spag-bol, using my own recipe and Asda's fake mince. I always make way too much, so the leftovers always get fed to our chickens. To say that they love it would be an understatement. If the egg industry try to deprive my hens of their spag-bol, could we get the litigious RSPCA involved? They seem to get a kick out of reducing innocent people to bankrupsy, how much more satisfying to bankrupt an organisation that actually deserves it.

John Pickworth said...

This isn't a about chickens but red herrings.

While the industry has a point; the dangers from local flocks are quite small. Look at Asia and India where almost everyone keeps fowl and how frighteningly quickly problems can spread around the world.

For context, the research that this story is based upon:
A total of 65 backyard chicken flock-keepers in the Greater London urban area were recruited from May to July 2010 through adverts on websites, at City farms, veterinary practices and pet feed stores and surveyed by means of a questionnaire. A total of 30 responses were suitable for analysis.

RAB said...

campylobacter jejuni?

They're having a laugh. That's a character out of Alladin surely?

We don't have chickens, but a lot of others round here do. It's a well heeled middle class district, and I haven't heard of any deaths so far.

As far as kitchen scraps are concerned we don't have any. We have a very efficient waste disposal unit for that. She's called Saffie the bonkers dog.

JuliaM said...

"At some point I'm expecting an act which outlaws ovens, cookers and all related open fires..."

As long as it doesn't include micrwaves, some will still be OK!

"I am sure that they would like to stop people doing all kinds of things for themselves."

Spot on! As Able points out, these regs came about because of a handful of 'bad apples' in the commercial industry...

"Is there any non-battery farm in history where they've managed to do that?"

I wouldn't have thought it possible without poison, traps, etc..

"But now I will reconsider. Just to be awkward."


The eggs taste better, they really do.

JuliaM said...

"For context, the research that this story is based upon"

30 responses. Not even checked for accuracy! Nonsense once more.

"campylobacter jejuni?

They're having a laugh. That's a character out of Alladin surely?"

I had to check to make sure it wasn't one of the poor bloody kids from the last post!

SadButMadLad said...

"You can take the sex and travel option, love."

You forgot the destination. The cemetery.