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David Sparks Ph.d Breeding for Taste
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Idaho Ag Today
Date: December 07, 2018

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It is estimated that over 60% of the world’s eggs are produced in industrial systems, mostly using battery cages. In poultry farming, battery cages (often called factory farming in the United States or battery farming in the United Kingdom) are an industrial agricultural confinement system used primarily for egg-laying hens. The battery cage has generated controversy between advocates for animal welfare and industrial egg producers. On the other side of the discussion, in many people’s eyes, like those involved in the very popular locavore movement, there is a better way to raise chickens called free range. The hens are not confined but literally are able to rome free range. Homestead Natural Food producer, Bill Gale from Middleton, ID raises free range hens and claims that there is a huge taste difference between what he calls factory eggs and eggs from his free range chickens. He had a fascinating response and it relates to behavior. “I don’t know that they are extremely stressed. We bought some Heritage breeds versus Cornish Cross and the trouble you have with the Cornish Cross  chicken when you turn him out on pasture is that he will not move around, he will not eat, that instinct has been bred out of them so I don’t think they are extremely stressed being in a cage, I just think they have been bred up to be docile and they don’t worry about it much. They are just a little egg factory. As far as being inhumane, I don’t worry much about that, I think it is inhumane but the natural chicken tendencies have been bred out of those birds.”

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