Monday, April 25, 2011

Californian Egg Farmers Are Concerned and Confused

Back in 2008, California voters overwhelmingly supported an initiative that would require hens on egg farms, calves on veal farms, and sows on pig farms be given enough room to stand up, lie down, turn around, and stretch their limbs/wings without touching the sides of their enclosure. This is not an unreasonable request. But if you ask egg farmers, the world might as well be ending (and maybe they're right, the Rapture is scheduled for May 21st of this year!). You don't hear the dairymen/women and pig farmers complaining, yo.

I'd like to address some of their concerns in the hopes of helping egg farmers comply with this apparently difficult to comprehend law!

I don't know what not touching the sides of enclosure means! Okay egg farmers, so you're in a bind with this whole "stretching her wings" and "not touching enclosure" business. I get it, this sort of stuff requires some fancy calculus equations, for sure. I'm going to leave that up to the experts at UC Davis and the egg industry to figure that out. However, I did set aside some time to hand-draw a diagram that might jump-start the more complex process of The Maths.

Let me explain. This hen is sporting a 32" wingspan. So to accommodate the rules of the law, I have drawn dimensions of a cage that is 32.01" in length, width and height. I chose 32.01" because, per the law, the cage has to be larger than the full wingspan of a hen, so she is not constantly bashing into the wire cage with her wings. Now, if you have hens with different wingspans, here's my suggestion: build your cages to the dimensions of the largest wingspan.
Complex maths may be required for MORE hens!
But, but, but giving room to hens will cause all family egg farms to go out of business! This is coming from Hohberg Poultry Ranch. Now I don't know about you, but when I hear "family farm", I'm thinking something like this:
Marin Sun Farms 82

Hohberg Poultry Ranch has two facilities I know of. And you won't see any chickens. Since I cannot get a shot of the birds on the farm; here's the Hohberg Poultry Ranch itself:
Can you see Mr. Hohberg?

A-ha! See a family lives in the house to the right! Family farm!
Now, Hohberg Poultry Farm IS a family farm, because it's run by the Hohbergs. But it's not the kind of "family farm" I believe most people think up when they hear the words. Egg farmers, stop messing with our minds on what a family run farm constitutes. Honesty = best policy. Scary, I know.

Not all family farms will go out of business. The farm where you can see the birds and go on tours is going to be fine, because they already comply with the law (and go beyond it, hello grass!). The family run farms, like Hohberg Poultry Farm, is going to have to do one of the following: get a loan, downsize their flock, convert their battery cage sheds to cage-free sheds, retrofit their battery cages to be larger, build more sheds, or I guess go out of business.

I mean it seems a little hyperbolic to claim you'll go out of business without bothering to see if you can actually comply with the law WITHOUT going out of business. You've had since 2008 to get the ball rolling, folks! Stop complaining, start figuring crap out.

The egg industry's future is on hold!
Whoa! Color me surprised! But that's just what Doug Kuney a farm adviser to egg farmers has said. First off, egg farmers, get a better farm adviser, this guy sucks! He just told us you have no future and, so far as I can tell, you're still selling the same number of eggs you did back in 2008 and you'll probably still be selling about the same number of eggs IN THE FUTURE of 2015. That's my prediction, anyways. See, change goes like so: CHANGE OMG SCARY! *change happens* CHANGE HAS NOT CHANGED MUCH OF ANYTHING! Plus in this case, better life for hens until we liberate them all and stop eating their eggs! Ha, ignore that last part, because this your second and third concerns will come true.

But really, calm down. Like look at JS West, which has installed a cage system that has enrichments in it. Instead of the 40% increase in production costs UC Davis fear-mongers experts claimed would happen, JS West has seen only a 20-25% increase in costs. So that's like if it cost you 0.16 to sell an egg, it's going to soon cost you 0.20. That is what we call a minor increase.

Of course you fools will have to figure out the whole enriched cage v. cage-free "which is cheaper debate"yourselves. I don't have time to figure EVERYTHING out for you, geez.

Alternatively, we could all go vegan and nip this problem in the buttocks! A girl can hope.

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