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Letter: Plenty of room to roam for hens

Re: “Chicken barn not humane” (Monitor letter, June 19):

The letter from Karen Davis of Virginia regarding the proposed 20,000 laying hen barn in Dunbarton stating that it was not humane ignored some basic thought. She stated that hens would not be able to roam. I would point out that in a 500-foot-long building, the hens could roam all they want.

I worked for many years for the UNH Cooperative Extension Service as a poultry specialist trying to help commercial poultry farmers, backyard farmers keeping six to 12 hens, and 4-H youngsters raising small flocks of birds. One of the common problems of small-flock owners is that on a cold winter day when the temp drops to zero or below, the birds are likely to end up with frozen combs or toes. That is not humane either.

People who are trying to make a living raising poultry need to keep thousands of hens. It makes sense to have as many birds in one building as possible in order to be warm in the winter and to make best use of automatic feeders, waterers and nests.

In the 1970s, it was found that by filling the buildings with cages that held several birds in each cage, a poultryman could make maximum use of his building. There is no question that caged hens could not roam. This is the most common egg production system still in use nationwide.

In the past 10 years or so, some poultrymen discovered that they could place the automatic feeders, waterers and nests at several levels, getting maximum use of a building’s interior space.

Also, in this arrangement the birds could roam. This arrangement is used by the North Country farm that would contract the egg production farm proposed in Dunbarton.



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