SEP 2007

SEPTEMBER 2007 Archive

(Images removed, for space reasons) (new blog) – (old blog)

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Norfolk suspect case cleared

Norfolk Foot and Mouth suspicion – care needed
A Temporary Control Zone has been put in place around a premises near Dereham in Norfolk. It is to be hoped that this is a false alarm but we have to await results of tests. If it is a case of FMD, this would represent a major break-out from the previously affected area (Surrey).

Anyone who keeps cloven-hoofed animals (pigs, sheep, cattle, deer etc.) should ensure that no unauthorised persons enter land near the animals and that animals are kept clear of public footpaths if possible.

All members of the public visiting the countryside should be careful not to create a risk to animals.

The nightmare has happened – new FMD outbreak announced at 13:00 p.m. today
FMD and Pirbright – more honours in the pipeline?

Ah, it's probably a pipeline connecting the two laboratories that could have leaked the virus. That neatly avoids pointing the finger at anyone in particular, unless we ask what the virus was doing in the pipe in the first place. Was the flow from the Merial facility to a treatment plant run by the government facility?Will Merial be asked to pay anything towards the horrendous costs? Just think of the millions they were expecting to flow into their bank, from sale of the products emanating from their research.

However, the report seems to hit at the government facility there, putting the ball pretty firmly back with HM Government. I don't suppose we'll hear an apology or have a refund on our tax bill! I suppose the answer will be the usual round of lateral promotions and OBEs.

With all the other lethal viruses that are being researched at Pirbright and elsewhere, how do we know that we won't be seeing more bio-security leaks in the future?

Might any of this suggest to anyone that maybe we shouldn't be playing with fire, with this sort of research?


 The many colours of our food
Why is 98% correspondence better than 99%? (Human-Animal Hybrids)
Batteries running out?

Also in the news, this weekend, is the fact that sales of ‘free range' eggs have overtaken battery cage eggs, in the UK. So they should and why on earth are we still keeping hens in cages?I am heartened by the trend, especially as it shows that the great British public is becoming aware of animal welfare and is prepared to do something about it.

However, as The Daily Telegraph (David Derbyshire) wrote last November: “The image of free range hens wandering through woods and farmyards is a little way from the truth. In being free range, hens can still spend most of their time in hen houses or large barns as long as they have continuous access to runs “mainly covered with vegetation”. Up to 2,500 birds are allowed in one hectare (just over two acres).” Furthermore, dominant hens may prevent the majority from using the legal ‘popholes' to the outside. The tag ‘Free Range' is just not sufficient safeguard and is being exploited by the industry. You only have to look at the welfare leaflet produced by DEFRA: to see the incredible housing conditions to which many ‘free range' hens are subjected.

RSPCA Freedom Food may not be all it seems, either. There have been prosecutions against Freedom Food farms:

This passage was lifted from: “The UK free-range flock numbers around 3 million birds, 10% of the national egg-laying flock. Commercial free-range systems involve massive flocks, often around 15,000 birds, which are housed in huge sheds. Legally, the birds must have continuous access to open-air runs which means the sheds have a number of pop-holes. Stocking densities must not be more than 1,000 birds per hectare of ground to which the birds have access. This is about 200 times more space than battery hens have. However, inadequate numbers of pop-holes in large sheds may mean that many birds never leave the sheds. Pop-holes may also be protected by more aggressive birds discouraging other hens from using them freely. Overcrowding inside the sheds can lead to similar welfare problems as percheries with aggression, feather-pecking and cannibalism all occurring. Debeaking is more common in free-range hens than battery hens! Disease is also a problem, especially where high stocking densities result in the ground outside becoming heavily fouled. Traditional free-range involves smaller flocks which are housed in moveable houses.”

As far as I can tell, Soil Association Organic standard is the best welfare option and the best policed, unless someone can tell me otherwise.

If you really want to help the hapless chicken, ask restaurants, cafes, hotels, bars etc. where they source their eggs. If they cannot satisfy your enquiries properly, it's best not to buy food containing eggs! If enough do this, there will be a major policy shift among buyers for the catering industry. The same applies to supermarkets or wherever else you shop.

Make keeping hens in cages obsolete and that would be a feather in your cap (pun intended)!


The organic tide is turning
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