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Chicken Story Creates Letter-Writing Fervour

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I read "Chickens as Toxic Machines" (alive #246 p. 120) written by Rhody Lake with great interest. My son and his friend just placed first in his school science fair with a project that determined whether antibiotics made it through chickens to their eggs.

I read "Chickens as Toxic Machines" (alive #246 p. 120) written by Rhody Lake with great interest. My son and his friend just placed first in his school science fair with a project that determined whether antibiotics made it through chickens to their eggs. It did-to the agitation of one of the judges who was on the Egg Marketing Board. Your article has inspired me to want to take action to advance the cause for organic and humane farming practices. Thank you for your well-written story and for the awareness you bring of this terrible situation.Wendy Valdes
via e-mail

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for publishing the very insightful article on the state of factory farming today. Sometimes being a vegetarian is hard when you feel like you're missing out on things; but this article reinforced my belief that it is wrong and environmentally irresponsible to eat meat. Isn't it ironic that people are outraged (and rightfully so) at puppy mills, but cannot see how the treatment of farm animals is one and the same?
Sara Free
Kitchener, Ont.

If R. Lake, author of "Chickens as Toxic Machines," or anyone else for that matter, wants to eat free-range organic eggs, that's most certainly her choice. But before advocating them over all other egg choices, it would be wise to get the basic facts right about egg production in Canada.

Yolk colour: This is determined by what the hens eat, not whether the yolk is "sick" or healthy. Because the foundation of our hens' diets is Canadian wheat, the yolk of most Western Canadian eggs is light yellow. Go to Ontario where hens get corn, and you will find bright yellow yolks.
Antibiotics: These are provided to laying hens only when they are sick. We believe that when and if our birds get ill, they deserve the best veterinary medicine has to offer. Also, the use of hormones in poultry in Canada-any kind of poultry, including layers-is illegal.
Beak trimming: Young pullets whose beaks have been cut back begin eating almost right after this is done. Those breeding techniques Ms. Lake opposes as "genetic selection" creating the "designer hen" are the same techniques being used to develop new strains of hens that won't require beak trimming.
Toes and feet: The toes and feet of the vast majority of laying hens develop normally, just as is the case with all other animals.
Forced moulting: Ms. Lake relies on American information. Controlled moulting is very uncommon in Canada. And, of course, hens are given water at all times.
Nutrition: Easily digestible, high quality protein, lecithin, unsaturated fat, B vitamins including B12, vitamin E and minerals are found in all eggs. This is not the exclusive domain of organic eggs.

As egg farmers, we believe in providing our customers with choice. That is why we will produce a variety of eggs, depending on what consumers want. We are also committed to helping those who buy our eggs be well informed so they can make the best possible decisions for themselves and their families.
Harv Janzen, Janzen Poultry Ltd., BC
John Richter, Richter Farms Ltd., AB
Meb Gilani, Sparks Farm Egg Supplies, AB
Bert Harman, Harman Poultry Farm Ltd., SK

As a poultry veterinarian who works exclusively with laying hens, I am writing this response to R. Lake's article in the April 2003 issue. I applaud Ms. Lake for her attempt to change a situation she disagrees with, but this article was written like an opinion piece and used several half-truths and misconceptions to support these opinions.

The current egg farming system is far from perfect, and there are welfare issues we are working on improving. Hopefully, people realize that our methods are the way they are because they eliminate many welfare problems that the public doesn't know about. Thinking we produce eggs in the current manner because it is more profitable for egg producers is somewhat flawed. If birds produced 15 per cent fewer eggs in a free-run environment and egg consumption stayed the same, hatcheries would sell 15 per cent more chicks. Eggs would be more expensive, and since profit is usually worked in as a percentage of retail sales, all profits should increase. Thus, there must be other reasons for running the system the way we do.
Mike Petrik
via e-mail

In Praise of Pet Article

I absolutely loved "Don't Let Cancer Strike Your Pet" by Ann N. Martin (alive #246 p. 108). This article really hit home for me, having lost my dog to cancer. We need more of these articles to build knowledge about how we can fight this terrible disease that is killing our pets. I am a firm believer in supplementation for animals and I feel that it should be common practice with any dog nowadays. This article is definitely a step in the right direction in helping animals live a healthier life. Thanks again. I look forward to future articles relating to our beloved pets!
Yvonne Lapierre
Richmond, BC

Success Story

For 30 years, I have battled vaginal yeast infections. For the past eight of those, it has been chronic. Whenever I cleared up an infection, I tolerated an irritating vaginitis condition that always turned into another yeast infection. It was a vicious circle with no real relief. My naturopath was frustrated, too. Lucky for me she didn't give up. Three months ago, after prodding me with more questions, she stumbled upon a symptom I apparently had not mentioned before. She immediately suspected parasites and prescribed a homeopathic remedy. It worked! You can't imagine the new life I have! If I could help just one woman out there with a similar chronic vaginal problem, then telling my story is worth it. I would have thought, "Parasites? Not me!" "Pinworms? Never!"
-Name withheld

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