[Market-farming] Free Range Chickens in the Garden

Leigh Hauter lh at pressroom.com
Fri May 16 07:16:16 EDT 2003

With all due respect to anyone that would believe we should make our 
fields a sterile factory floor, I must say, there are big differences 
between a food processing plant and a field of vegetables. The idea 
that a 'farmer' is going to cut down all the trees on his/her farm to 
'discourage' birds from dropping guano on his/her fields would be 
humorous if it isn't so sad. (actually, I would suspect the real 
reason anyone would really do this is to discourage crop damage - 
this is a really big issue, did you know the USDA poisons hundreds of 
thousands of birds each year to prevent crop damage to, get this, 
bird feed crops).

  If the real reason was to limit guano in the field what are they 
doing about the field mice?  How about earthworms?  And I would be 
especially worried about that large black snake crawling across by 
vegetable field in search of the wayward rodent.  And if this is all 
in order to protect against e-coli (what's the number of the e-coli 
that is dangerous?) they should be concentrating on the correct 
vectors, which isn't blackbirds to humans.

Yes, we all want sanitary practices but I doubt that it is anyone's 
science based policy to kill off a natural level of animal life in 
vegetable fields to promote food safety.  Most of the hysteria about 
compost/manure/disease/e-coli is based on sloppy science (ie 
stossel/avery) who can't seem to get their e-coli's or vectors 

So, let's get back to why you wouldn't want chickens running loose in 
your vegetables. You don't want to do it for the same reason the USDA 
is spending your tax money to poison birds.  Crop damage. It isn't 
that a couple chickens in the vegetables are going to 'poop' all over 
the vegetables (if it were, as anyone who has ever come in contact 
with these paradigms of cleanliness knows, the idea that humans would 
eat a chicken, especially a chicken raised in a commercial chicken 
house, would be quickly nixed). You don't want chickens, or for that 
matter guineas in your vegetables  because they damage certain 
vegetables.  Particularly tomatoes. A peck here and a peck there soon 
adds up to an awful lot of damaged fruit.

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