Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Recent egg recall

The recall of millions upon millions of eggs got me thinking: are the eggs from my flock safe?  I believe they are.  I tell people they are.  But to be sure, I contacted MyPetChicken, which is where I got my chicks, to ask if they certify that their hens are salmonella-free.

Here's their response (emphasis mine):
Thanks for contacting My Pet Chicken. We test Salmonella-pullorum-typhoid clean, and are H5/H7 AI monitored.  Salmonella is more of an issue with factory farmed birds, because the conditions they are kept in are simply terrible.  In fact, this isn't an illness that passes hen to hen at all, but is usually passed when hens eat rat droppings.  Yuck.

Presuming you are keeping your hens in clean conditions with fresh food and water, it is doubtful they would contract salmonella.  A hen sick with salmonella would be immediately obvious to you: weak, purple-combed, diarrhea, reduced egg production. The illness was probably obvious to those at the factory farm, too--even if they didn't notice one more symptom of the many in their abused hens, surely they would have noticed the drop in production--so it's sort of terrifying to think they just kept selling their eggs.  Worse, the supplier of the two factory farms on which the recent outbreaks occurred apparently has a long history of violations:

If you are worried that your hens somehow have contracted this illness, you can always have them tested, but my guess is that eating your hens' eggs is probably the safest thing you or your friends could do.  Actually, this salmonella outbreak on a commercial factory farm is another good reason to keep your own hens, because you can monitor their health personally, and you can control what feed they eat and the conditions they live in.  You can see when they may need medical attention.  If you know anything about factory farms, the surprising thing here is not that there was an outbreak, but that there aren't many, many more.  Those poor chickens.
I can confidently say that my hens are all healthy, as evidenced by perky appearances and alert behavior. 

And so, yes: my hens are salmonella-free.

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