Chicken Mess: More Neo-Liberal Nonsense

Okay, laugh, but much information can be culled from contemplating chicken manure, even if nobody much consults chicken entrails any more.

This spring we wanted chicken manure spread on the pastures because it is incredibly rich in nutrients, the best “natural” fertilizer known to man, and quite inexpensive, comparatively speaking.  So I asked one of my truck driver friends, who cleans out houses for Sanderson Farms affiliates, to bring me several dump truck loads.  “No can do, because they aren’t having it done, this year,” quoth he.

How odd.  I mulled that over off and on for months, and today I got the answer.

The greenies are at it again!  THIS time they are claiming that litter (sawdust and, ah, processed chicken feed) is polluting the sacred environment, and I guess they’ll have to fight it out with those who insist we should eat lots more chicken and much less red meat.

AP online reports that Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson has accused a dozen Arkansas processors of “polluting the Illinois River watershed with bird waste.”  A federal trial–Oh, grief, now we’re making a federal case out of chicken mess?

The federal trial begins September 21st.  If the Feds win, other “environmental” lawsuits may ensue in other states, threatening the multi-billion-dollar poultry industry.   At stake in this suit are 1,800 poultry houses which employ more than 55,000 people who produced over eight billion pounds of chickens and turkeys last year.  The average investment is over half a million dollars.  It may not be pertinent, but raising fowl is not a pleasant way to earn a living.

The AP report continues, “Edmondson says the sheer volume of the waste spread on the land – estimated at 345,000 tons per year – has wreaked environmental havoc.” (He’s talking about a million-acre area, by the way.)

“Runoff carries bacteria into lakes and streams, where it threatens the health of tens of thousands of people who boat and camp in the valley every year. He says the industry took the least expensive way out when it could have burned the litter as energy, processed it into pellets or even composted it until the pathogens died.” Oh, yeah, we can imagine the reaction of the carbon freaks to the burning proposal, I’m not sure what pellets would be good for, unless, again, he is talking about something that can be burned in stoves, but they would surely be expensive to produce, and the stuff is composted naturally in the chicken houses, as I discuss below.  Have you ever smelled burning manure?  Maybe it isn’t so bad when dried; pioneers used buffalo chips.  You would prefer not to know about the time the Old English Sheepdog had a tummy upset near a floor furnace…Odoriferous does not begin to describe the calamity.

AP states, further, “For decades, farmers took clumps of bird droppings, bedding and feathers from the houses and spread them on their land as an inexpensive fertilizer for other crops. The two states sanctioned this by issuing the farmers permits, and the industry says no individual companies or farms have been accused of violating environmental regulations.” (Emphasis mine.)  The “bedding” referred to is sawdust or wood shavings, not Posturepedic mattresses.  Not a lot of feathers are involved, but they’re pure protein.

We have spread chicken manure on our land when it was available since 1950.  Daddy got it from the local college, which gave the stuff away.  One of life’s more pleasurable pursuits is NOT shoveling fresh chicken mess out of a truck and spreading it by hand, but it produced thick, lush grass and lakes where fish thrive.  For over 50 years we have been “polluting” our pastures to the benefit of man, beast, and land with natural organic fertilizer.   Silly us, we thought we were practicing good animal husbandry, as taught to Daddy at Texas A&M, as well as economy.

The modern “product” is not literally fresh chicken manure.  The caged birds defecate onto sawdust or wood shavings–which add minerals and organic matter and “lighten” the soil, making it better for crops or grassland–and the fecal matter ages and dries out naturally over the course of about six months since the houses are usually cleaned out twice a year.  While some of it is “fresh” (you could come up with a wonderful equation involving percentages and age of the product) when the natural fertilizer is spread on the land, the preponderance of it has dried and mellowed, and the bacteria mentioned have died of exposure to the elements.  When it is spread sunlight kills whatever remain quickly.  What the farms were almost certainly selling, as well as using to improve their own land, is known as “cake,” and compared to the product fresh out of the bird it smells delightful.  My darling Charles points out punctiliously that lime should be added at the time, but I told him you had already learned more than you ever wanted to know about chicken mess.

In short, this lawsuit is sheer balderdash, as usual, another attack on the free market and our food chain.

This case bodes ill for the poultry industry, stocks in Sanderson and Simmons, and the consumers’ pocketbooks.  It is a beautiful try for more “legislation from the bench” from the Liberals, castigating a superb byproduct that is needed desperately by our mineral- and nutrient-depleted soils, harming small business men, and creating shortages where they need not be while costing all of us.

This, in turn, is likely to have an effect on Col. Sanders, which is owned by Pepsico.  Wake up, CEO, or Kentucky Fried Chicken could be out of business through lack of meat to steam cook or enormous price increases.  Are you listening, Church’s, Chick-fil-A, and Wings and More?

Chicken will be very rare on your tables if the poultry giants are shut down, particularly in light of the provisions in the Food “Safety” act which will make it a crime to kill our own for home use.  For thousands of years mankind has managed to slay chickens, remove their feathers and innards, and eat them quite safely, but we are held to be so incompetent to do so that Nanny has to take our hatchets away and threaten to jail us.  (That is the most savory explanation.  There are scarier ones.)

Small farmers cannot keep chicken in grocery store freezers year around, friends, even if we could make a profit after paying to have the birds processed “professionally.”  Will the EPA decide next that we have to diaper our birds?  What about wild birds?

Grocery stores cannot function with unreliable suppliers.

Perhaps we should consider founding a Reform Rastafarians  movement (I don’t know much about what Rastafarians do, other than that it involves killing chickens.) and have as a tenet of our faith that we must cook and consume the sacrifices as part of freedom of religion.  That could be just whacko enough to be approved by the “you may worship anything but Jesus” crowd.

If the EPA and the Greens aren’t reined in we’re going to have serious food shortages.  Thirty per cent. of the corn crop is being thrown away on ethanol.  We stripped out an ear grown from genetically-modified seeds recently, and not only did it not produce kernels that would propagate, it hadn’t made any at all!  There was nothing in there except the cob and the silk.  The result in the field was baled as fodder, and my friend’s hundred goats had great fun tearing apart the 900 pound roll and eating the two ears per stalk, after which they refused, sensibly, to have anything further to do with dried, tasteless cellulose.

The government proposes to tax me because the Black Dexters produce methane, and this year’s Thanksgiving turkey may be the last you ever see.  Guess I’d better give you my recipe for Linda’s Heart-Stopping Gravy.  I’ll post it here on Morning Whiskey.

Enjoy it while you can.

Linda Brady Traynham

August 4, 2009