Updated: Apr 8, 2022
Avian Flu (written April 6, 2022…important to note since this problem is developing rapidly)
Food fear strikes again! I’m sure you have seen or heard something about the Avian Flu. Prices in supermarkets for eggs and chicken have increased dramatically as a result. I wanted to take a moment and share with you what we know about Avian Flu and how it will or will not affect our farm and your food.
The current version of Avian Flu is real, very transmissible, and very deadly to chickens. It is hosted by many migratory birds and can move quickly from farm to farm even with the most restricted biosecurity measures in place. Here is a good overview article about the situation: https://www.npr.org/2022/04/06/1091061758/bird-flu-outbreak
It is important to note that most birds have died due to euthanizing flocks in order to stop the spread of Avian Flu to other areas. Likely the equivalent of putting out a wildfire with your best garden hose. Seems like it would help, but doesn’t accomplish much!
We have some regenerative principles that we adhere to in times like this. We take the approach of natural ecosystem intelligence is greater than human intelligence or fear.
“So be it.” Gabe Brown said this over and over when I visited his farm. If he lost a calf, or another animal, it was nature’s decision. The survivors are stronger, resistant and better adapted to the environment and management that they are in.
Diversity. Our heritage breeds and multiple different breeds may respond differently to the virus. Instead of losing our entire flock, we may only lose a portion of it.
Healthy soil, plants, and feed. Our flocks are at Ranch 226 which has had no synthetic or organic inputs applied to it for over 22 years. The plant diversity and health from grazing cattle has significantly increased over the last 4 years of intensive grazing. Our home grown Non-GMO feed that we make on farm is from 25+ year no till soils with 8+ years of cover crops. All of the microbial diversity of the soils, plants, and feeds will give us a better opportunity to create a more resistant microbiome. Plus our feeds contain probiotics to help improve immune system responses.
Raising our flocks on pasture greatly increases their chances of exposure to the virus from the multitude of migrating birds that frequent our ranch. However, if the newest CAFO’s with the best biosecurity cannot stop the spread, what difference does that make?
We believe in the beauty and resilience of natural design. We will do our best to work with nature instead of attempting to replace it. Remember, nature was designed to last a humanity!
Questions you may have:
Are Grateful Graze eggs and chicken safe to eat?
ABSOLUTELY! Avian flu does not go into the meat or the eggs. Plus humans rarely get sick by this virus. Here’s a helpful article from WebMD.
Our chicken and eggs are produced in the best possible way to be as nutrient dense as possible. This nutrient density enables your body to receive more of the nutrients needed to be available for a host of functions including immune system response.
Prices in the store are increasing rapidly, will your prices increase?
We have absorbed increased costs of production in the last couple of years by increasing flock size and being able to use homegrown feed. However, bird prices are up, processing costs are up, transportation costs are up, labor costs are up and the price of feed is nearly DOUBLE of last year. We will likely need a price increase in the near future, but we will give you a fair opportunity to order at the old prices prior to any increase. That’s what your grocery store does, right?
I love your eggs, what if I can’t get them?
If we lose a portion or all of our egg-laying flock, you will be the first to know. Our idea is to immediately locate and bring to the farm ready to lay pullets. We would likely be out of eggs for 2-4 weeks and costs would increase to help cover the losses.
Will you run out of chicken to purchase?
Since we are a pasture-based farm, we raise our animals when the grass is green. Our freezer still has an ample supply of chicken available for purchase. We believe that the bean counter’s approach to inventory looks great on paper, but a 3 day supply in grocery stores and a 7-10 day supply to accomplish “fresh” chicken is proven to be rather nearsighted in times like these.
The “fresh” chicken model makes supply chain interruptions a huge problem. Labor strikes, transportation issues, fuel prices, pandemics, flus and many other factors disrupt food availability easily. Only large corporations with incredible logistics can supply a fresh market efficiently so by thinking “fresh” is better, families unknowingly choose large multinational corporations for their food.
Meanwhile over here in Cambridge, IL our chicken makes its last cluck at 7 AM and by 5PM it is chilled below freezing and at -10 by 7 AM the next day. The next time it is above freezing is when you take it out to cook it. Our chicken is only above -10 for 24 hours…is fresh chicken really “fresh”? Plus we have plenty of chicken to get us through to our second harvest in July.
What’s your biosecurity plan?
Move the chickens to a new area every day, abundant access to fresh air and sunlight, and don’t clean our boots off after doing the cow chores…what we’ve done every day since we started raising chickens!
Thinking we can stop it is very human-centric thinking. The virus will run its course and we will not forsake principles for fear.
Do you have a question you would like answered? Let us know.
The current food production model is cheap but very broken. Regenerative production is the future of food. Thank you for choosing to make a difference by purchasing our eggs, chicken, beef, pork and lamb!