It seems that when the law was changed in the U.S. to ban the use of rendered animal parts in animal feed, cattle producers looked around for other low cost feeds and that’s when they discovered chicken manure. (see CNN story at the end of this post.). Thanks to Gaille for sending this NFU commentary our way:
Are we eating American beef raised on chicken manure?
A commentary on behalf of the National Farmers Union Ontario
By Grant Robertson
When you think of cattle feed very few of us probably imagine chicken manure. Certainly it would be the last thing that would enter the mind of most of us from farmers to eaters. Some time ago the NFU was approached about the possible practice of feeding chicken litter to cattle in the United States, and potentially in other nations that export their beef to Canada. I say possible because it is really difficult for a farm organization in Canada to nail down what exactly is happening with this issue. Having spent a great deal of personal time trying to research this issue it has proven impossible to find the ‘smoking gun’ of how wide spread this practice is. Frankly it is going to take an enterprising news agency or journalist to follow this issue further. At this point it is hard to know where the truth really lies.
Here’s what we do know. Canada has banned this practice. The United States has not banned the practice of feeding chicken manure to cattle – quite the opposite in fact. You can find the following recommendation from the University of West Virginia (as an example) on the web by simply Googling ‘feeding chicken litter’:
The following rations are based on free choice feeding and is adequate for both dry and lactating cows. Because chicken litter is high in minerals, no salt or minerals need to be fed with this ration.
70% chicken litter
There are of course many concerns associated with eating beef fed on chicken ‘crap’. The more we learn about disease transfer – such as influenza viruses, the more we realize how at risk we are in our modern world. Chicken feed has as one of its ingredients cattle in the form of crude protein from meat and bone meal. In Canada we have banned the use of specified risk materials from all animal feed. However, in the United States this is not the case. While the FDA was on track to enact a ban on April 27th this has been delayed until at least June 26th and the American beef industry is asking for further delays.
So let’s step back and think about this for a second. It is a practice in the United States to feed chicken litter (manure) to cattle. SRMs – which have been connected to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) could conceivably be finding itself into the scattered feed in chicken litter. American cattle are potentially eating feed that could potentially be a link to BSE. That beef is potentially coming into Canada – and we Canadians do not want to seem to say – “uh isn’t something a bit odd here?” It seems more than likely that many of the other countries that are exporting beef to Canada, either in processed food or in straight forward cuts of beef may also be engaged in this practice.
As an eater I am shocked that a practice that could conceivably link our food directly to a variety of diseases being given a pass at our borders. It is equally shocking to consider the other nasty surprises that might be found in food that uses manure as a feed source. An organization like the NFU, or any farm organization really, simply does not have the resources to follow up on an issue like this. It is alarming to think we may all be inadvertently being exposed to this risk by the ignorance- wilful or otherwise- of our government. The NFU is hopeful that others with the resources necessary to follow the data will take up the challenge of either reassuring us this feeding chicken litter to cattle in America is not as widespread as it seems, or to expose this practice for the dangerous and foolish risk it is.
Grant Robertson is the senior elected official with the National Farmers Union-Ontario. As Ontario Coordinator Robertson is also a National Board Member of the NFU. Grant and his family farm near Paisley, Ontario. The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Website for the National Farmers Union in Ontario
And here’s a related story from CNN from 1997: “Are Humans endangered if cattle dine on chicken manure“. Here are some excerpts:
“….Increasingly, American cattle farmers feed their herds chicken manure, which health officials warn could contain dangerous bacteria that ends up in ground meat eaten by humans, the magazine reports in its September 1 issue. The waste that is mixed with livestock feed is a less expensive alternative to using grains and hay.
The practice is increasingly being used by cattle farmers in regions where there are large poultry operations — and thus a ready supply of cheap manure — such as California, the South and the mid-Atlantic states.
The U.S. News article cites as an example Dardanelle, Arkansas, farmer Lamar Carter, who recently bought 745 tons of manure from local chicken houses to feed his 800 head of cattle.
“My cows are as fat as butterballs,” Carter said. “If I didn’t have chicken litter, I’d have to sell half my herd. Other feed’s too expensive.”…”
“…Chicken manure often contains campylobacteria and salmonella bacteria, which can make humans sick. Intestinal parasites, veterinary drug residues and heavy toxic metals such as arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury are also often present in the waste, the article says.
The article points to a scientific study, soon to be published in the journal Preventive Medicine, that warns about the potential dangers of recycling chicken waste by feeding it to cattle.
“Feeding manure that has not been properly processed is supercharging the cattle feces with pathogens likely to cause disease in consumers,” Dr. Neal Barnard, author of the study, warns in the U.S. News article.
While it may sound distasteful, this can be safe if the manure is heated to 160 degrees to kill the bacteria. But, the study says many farmers don’t take that precaution.
There are no accurate statistics on how common the practice of feeding chicken manure to cattle is, the magazine report says, but with a recent ban on the use of slaughterhouse byproducts — imposed because of the “mad cow” disease scare — there is a shortage of cattle feed filler.
Until the ban, about 75 percent of the 90 million cattle in the United States were fed slaughterhouse wastes that included blood, bones and viscera.
Millions of euthanized cats and dogs, collected from veterinarians and animal shelters, have long been rendered into livestock feed each year, the article says.”
Picture below from Down With Tyranny blog:
Read this story in what looks like it might be the original version.
52 responses to “U.S. cattle being fed chicken manure?”
Please sign my petitions on this topic at Care2!
Ivan, I’m glad to know that somebody is on this case!
I am amazed that we allow this,I will not buy beef any more.
Please don’t swear off beef…many local farmers who raise beef naturally and make a living at it could sure use the income.
Margery, you’re probably safer buying organic beef or at least beef from a farmer you know who you can ask about his feeding practices. Grass-fed is ideal. Of course hay is a form of grass. But grain-fed is not so ideal. The digestion system of cattle was never intended to deal with grain.
This is a dangerous hew and cry. It is important not to over generalize regulations. For example:
1) Chickens love to root through manure in the pasture searching for bits of corn, insects, worms, etc to eat. This is a normal, natural, balanced part of the ecosystem.
2) Pigs love to search through a manure pile or compost pile looking for all those great bits of decaying material that are great to eat. This is a normal, natural, balanced part of the ecosystem.
Back when the USDA was defining Naturally Raised they initially banned the feeding of dairy (mammalian derived products) to pigs. That was wrong. Fortunately people wrote in during the comment period explaining that dairy is good food for pigs and the USDA specifically allowed for feeding of dairy. That was close. We almost lost the ability to feed dairy to pigs. Pigs have been a tradition way of using ‘waste’ dairy for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. They turn what is otherwise a waste product that would have to be disposed of into high quality protein and lipids. Chickens similarly do well on milk.
What one life form eats and passes may be excellent food for another. This is how we get oxygen to breath from plants exhalations and how they get carbon dioxide to breath from animal exhalations. Likewise the broccoli loves the shit of the pig and the seeds the animals don’t digest take root in the poop piles. Some animals, such as earthworms, chickens, pigs and insects eat the manure of other animals deriving nutrients from these predigested sources. It is all part of the greater web of life.
Yes, cows don’t normally or naturally eat chicken litter so this is certainly worth question. But it is all too easy for regulations to be badly written in over reaction to hysteria. Regulations and laws are usually written by people sitting in offices who don’t really know about farming out in the field. An unfortunate reality. This is why it is important to think these things through carefully, minimize any regulating and weigh in during comment periods.
The world is not a one size fits all sort of thing.
Sugar Mountain Farm LLC
why dont you go stand in a crampt barn and eat chicken shit
This not a case of simply poorly-written regulations. The regulations specifically address and allow the addition of chicken manure to cattle feed. See FDA Compliance Policy Guide, Sec. 685.100, Recycled Animal Waste — CPG 7126.34. And that is just plain asinine.
See this page on Environmental Health and Safety Online, http://www.ehso.com/ehshome/FoodSafety/chickenmanure.php for more information and a link to the regulations.
We’ve been tracking this issue since 1998 (see this page: http://www.ehso.com/ehshome/FoodSafety/chickenmanurenews.php )
The practice is indefensible and should be stopped!
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I only knew chicken manures are best stored for compost material. Never thought of using it as a feed for the cattle. Mind if I ask, does the manures go through a hygenic process it was feed to cows?
In COSTA RICA is a very common feeding caw with chicken manure and pig manure. And the bad part is that over there they get raw manure without any treatment, and I now that because my family has a small farm and they see how the rest of the farmer do that without any worries. Do not eat any beef from Costa Rica.
I live on a poultry and cattle farm and feed chicken litter to my cattle. For better understanding of this topic I will explain a few regulations we undergo to prevent the spread of disease. Our chickens are not exposed to anyone except us under a strict bio security measure so they do not become exposed to any diseases that may passed from other avian. Before we receive our baby chickens, a litter “amendment” is spread to reduce the ammonia that is created by the uric acid and water in the litter. This lowers the pH of the litter throughout the 7 weeks of growth and reduces the growth of bacteria due to the lower pH. We remove the caked litter from the house with a machine that breaks and sifts out the loose particles such as shavings and dried feces to be the bedding for the next flock. That litter is then placed into a barn stacked no more than 8 feet high and covered with plastic to reduce oxygen and start the process of heating due to the bacteria in the carbon and nitrogen. This heating process can reach temperatures of 180+ and can cause fires, but the restriction of oxygen ensure this doesn’t happen. Before feeding litter, it must undergo the heating up process for 20+ days to ensure that most of the bad bacteria is destroyed. The smell of the litter actually changes to a sweet smell like chocolate, no kidding!, the older it becomes and cattle throughly enjoy eating it. The only problem feeding chicken litter is the fact that it is high in Ash, or in this case, wood shavings, that creates acidosis or “heartburn for cattle”. We counter attack this problem by increasing the amount of roughage (hay) into our feed mixture or incorporating sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). We enjoy farming and plan to keep farming so that people can eat. Current feed prices are extremely high and it is more economical for us to feed litter. I understand that there is alot of opposition to it, but if you where in our shoes you would understand. The only way to stop feeding these by-products is for people to pay a higher price for beef. Maybe what should be lobbied for in congress is more support for American farmers and help lower these costs of feed. Everytime feed prices go up, so does your beef.
Actually there is a much easier way to stop this. Stop eating meat and dairy and anything else derived from animals. It’s not necessary and the land used for raising these animals could be used to farm more vegetables and grains.
I raise most of my own vegetables in my own back yard organically. I only buy local whole grain breads and local organic vegetables and fruits. It’s ridiculous to think you need to raise an animal just to kill it and eat it when you can get better nutrients from non-animal products that are more cost effective and have less impact on the environment.
If you want to be healthy and avoid all of the dangers our governments subject us to, be vegan (pure vegetarian). Grow as much of your own food as possible, buy the rest from trusted sources, research your nutrition, vary your diet, and supplement vitamin B12. You’ll thank yourself.
And crave the animal protein that helped grow our over-sized brains for the rest of your miserable grass-eating life.
you’re going to find out that strict vegetarian-ism does not supply human beings with enough of the essential high-quality proteins and oils they cannot manufacture themselves
I’d guess that about 10% at least, of our members were vegetarians, now overjoyed to discover the nutrition they can get from REAL MILK. I underscore = raw milk from cows treated humanely.
Educate yourself ; obviously, concentrated animal feedlot operations are insane. But proper farming with cattle enhances the soil fertility so vegetable crops produce more
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This is a response to both farmers: Walter Jeffries and Ben Johnson. You BOTH leave out the FACTS that the chicken manure you get comes from an INDUSTRIAL plant. NOT a “old timey” farm. The chicken manure has all of the above listed ingredients, plus DEAD COMPOSTED chickens. The chicken farmers throw out their dead chickens and cover them with chicken manure. This crap is so hot that it burns up the dead bodies. This is what is TRUELY being feed to cattle. AND it DOESN’T smell like chocolate EITHER. It is INDEED the MOST foul odor that you will EVER smell. Because of all of the DEAD chickens that are in the chicken manure. THAT’S what you cattle farmers are feeding you cows. DEAD CHICKENS! This is a HUGE and GROWING practice in TN. USA. Cobb/Tyson is doing this in the county where I live. I know EXACTLY what I’m talking about. ANY farmer that does this(just to make the almighty dollar) should hang his head in SHAME! Men do many evil things in live, but this is a slow poison on mankind. May GOD have mercy on your pitiful souls.
The chicken manure comes straight out of our 40×500 foot houses and is stacked in our drystack on the farm ,which is actually partially paid for by our government, not a industrial plant…Seriously? A “industrial plant”. Might be the case where you are from, but not here. The dead chickens are kept separate due to the buildup of E-Coli and other harmful bacteria. They are spread for fertilizer, NOT fed to cattle. Anyone with good common sense wouldn’t feed dead chickens to cattle unless they were rendered down and cooked to make a high protein food source such as dog food. Before anyone else starts slinging around on feeding litter to cattle, you need to do some more research yourself on the nutrition of ruminants and basic science of nitrogen and proteins. If feeding litter bothers you so much then I think you should altogether stop eating beef. You should also stop consuming any products that contain corn including drinks such as beer and liquor because chicken litter is also used to produce corn. Ford uses Soybeans in there seats and those beans might have been grown using chicken litter as a source of fertilizer. If you own a ford you might want to ask them about getting soyless seats.You might also want to stop eating ORGANIC vegetables cause guess what? Organic vegetables call for Organic Fertilizer and wow! chicken litter is ORGANIC!!! Shocker ain’t it. Looks like you are just gonna starve so you might want to learn how to grow a good garden using some synthetic fertilizer. Oh, Wait! You can do that because your stuck in organic mode. Woops.
^^ I do have my facts straight. All of these chicken houses hide under “old timey farming” when in FACT they are ALL industral manufacturing. They are under their parent company: here it would be Tyson/Cobb/Vantrese. To add more insult to injury, you just admitted being back by the government. Tax payer money is used to POISON their own people. You, like all the other evil money worshipers, can make all of the claims that you want too. “We are within government guildlines. I’m just trying to feed my family and make an honest living.” What a load of BullS**t! Or in this case ChickS**t. Nomatter HOW you try to rationalize this EVIL practice, you are STILL feeding chicken manure to the people of the world. You need to take those blinders off and WAKE UP! You do this for the almighty dollar. NOT to feed people. I work for a living too. I need money just like everyone else. BUT, there comes a time that you NEED to look long and hard in a mirror at EXACTLY what you are doing: FEEDING Chicken manure to people. There are NO Gray areas here: pure Black & White: Good or Evil. Feeding Chicken manure to your fellow man is EVIL. Plain and simple. As I said before; I pray that GOD has mercy on your pitiful soul. I’d dare say when your time comes for Judgement and in the Book of Life is read that you fed Chicken Manure to your fellow man….. Lord help you indeed. Wonder how all that $$$ you made will help you then.
BTW: please don’t think I’m only picking on you. I’m picking on ALL the “so called” chicken farmers and the cattle men that feed Chicken Manure to their cattle.
ben johson, bobby horne is another one of those city folks that have not a clue of what it takes to be able to raise the food that feeds his family as well as the cost it takes to raise this food. if we were to run our farms has they all wish no one except the very wealthy and maybe the white house could afford to eat…and if it be known he is more than likely one of those that smoke and drive while he is drinking comin home from one of those so called social events that make his practices ok for the rest of us in society
little are aware of 2 million dollars invested in one of these small/medium farm operations where we and our families or the responisible parties,no goverment bail outs as with the auto makers,bankers,savings in loans, all we have is to be homelessness
Nope, I don’t live in the city. I live in the country. As a matter of fact here is were I live: Macon County TN. USA. Do a google search and see how many chicken houses are in this area and how many are planned. The DEAD COMPOSTED CHICKEN manure(cattle feed) has been spread as CLOSE as 10′ from my door step. Cobb/Vantress:Tyson has moved into this area. They have a plant in our INDUSTRIAL park and are building a “super chicken”. The local farmers all feed chicken manure to their cattle. ALL OF YOU that do this know for FACT that all of the growth hormones, ARSENIC, antibodies that is feed to the chickens IS NOT filtered out of the chicken manure that you feed to your cattle. And here’s another 411 for you: just because the USDA or FDA says it’s alright to do this DOESN’T MEAN IT’S A GOOD THING! It’s cheap cattle feed and that’s about it. All of you can say what ever you want to, too justify your ends. But when it’s all said and done, you ARE the ones that are feeding this mess to your fellow humans. YOU all need to look more into WHY you HAVE to use chicken manure to feed your cattle. This is OUR governments fault and the big business’s that run it.
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Mother knows best! mother nature that is. Hogs and chickens are scavengers. Cattle are not. Cattle digestive systems are designed to eat forages, not grain not candy, not anhydrous ammonia, not manure!, or any other by-product of the industrial world. Cows should only eat plants and a large variety of them. I worked on conventional farms, dairy and swine, for 17 yrs before starting my own farm 15 yrs ago. Over time we fazed out most all unnatural inputs. Our cows are now 100% grass fed, hay and/or pasture, and certified organic. Now our cows are healthier than ever. No vet bills. Many conventional farms pay more to the vet than to themselves.
Hogs and chickens naturally seek out cattle manure, and this is healthy for them. But variety is important, corn, oats, barley, hay or pasture, and we feed milk so we don’t need to feed soybeans.
Farmers on the conventional side can get desperate when sale prices are low. They control neither their their input prices or sales prices. But need to save their farm and make a living. Many still trust that the extension service, government/corporate, salesman are thinking of their best interest.
The bottom line is: Healthy farms = healthy animals=healthy food= healthy consumers.
Know your farmer, know your food
Thanks for your time
South Pork Ranch
Hey you guy, know what. I’m not going to condemn these guys for feeding there cows chicken manure. The fact is I don’t agree with it. For the record I don’t feed my pigs manure either. Mind you I do charge more for healthy all natrual food (not organic that’s another scam). I do treat my animals to keep them parasite free. My chickens, I am sure eat a little pig crap though, as they are free to wander with the pigs. On occasion my pigs get chicken. not because I feed it to them but because the chicken wasn’t smart enough to get clear.
But if we don’t like to eat beef that has been fed crap. Quite asking for cheap food. Look at the money we spend on video games or movies or ball games and car but we wont spend money on good food I mean come on really. if you don’t want crap don’t buy it. I promise If no one buys it they won’t feed it.
So its not the guy feeding the crap that I take issue with its the guy buying this junk that is the problem. Oh yea and the guy getting government subsidies to feed this junk to the cows. I do take issue with that I do not like being taxed to pay for your crap. There are always people who think there crap smells like roses or chocolate.
In short change your priorities. Think about what you put in your body and let the guys who feed chicken crap sell there product to people who don’t care what they eat. Then we will all get along
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No one has their facts straight on this issue except for the ones who are practicing the act of feeding litter so that their farm can actually survive. You need to see how much it actually costs to feed cattle! I’m not the one with the blinds on, and I’m not the one who is hiding! I am straight forward honest as it can be.
Mr. Horne, attacking me on my faith is not a good way to end this. I am a Christian and love and worship God. My question to you is are you a born again believer? If not I encourage you to become one because the rapture is getting closer and closer everyday. I don’t believe that God will judge us on feeding chicken litter to our cattle or row crop farmers that use it to grow crops but if he does, it will all be amongst my pile of hay, stubble(evil and selfish acts of this world), jewels and precious metals(the good things we have done for Christ, not ourselves) that Jesus will try by fire. You will get to see my pile of things and I will see your pile of things, if you are a believer. I don’t pray that God will have pity on your soul, because I pray the Holy Spirit brings conviction upon your soul so that you may know right from wrong.
To set the record straight, our chicken houses are owned by us, but we have a contract with Pilgrims Pride which is a large scale corporation or what you like to call a “Industrial Plant”. We are honestly not in this business to get rich, we enjoy working hard unlike most people in society today. We grow beef cattle for another man in Alabama who pays us 43 cents/lb for raising the cattle for him. Corn cost us around 6.35-7.28 a bushel which also is reflected through our own food prices and also cattle feeds. Cattle have to eat around 10-15 lbs of a TMR(total mixed ration) to gain about 2-3 lbs a day. During the winter cattle can’t graze enough pasture or eat enough hay to remain healthy so feeding a TMR helps keep the cattle healthy and reduce chronic sickness. Chicken litter is used only as a filler and added energy, fiber and protein. Cattle use the hay for fiber and mainly crushed corn for higher energy for weight gain. We only feed up to spring (now) and let our cattle control graze our pastures the rest of the time. This is not a perfect world and certain measures have to be taken to ensure that our cattle survive the winter.
I wish that we didn’t have to feed litter, but with rising fuel prices and feed prices we have to. I would like to see our litter processed and turned into pellets to use in pellet furnaces so we can heat our houses more efficiently. Gas cost us around 10,000-15,000 every 7 weeks and only make about 2,000 every 9 weeks to return to our farm once you take out all the bills that have to be paid. Farming is a tough life, why do you think there are fewer farms now? No one wants to put up with losing it all.
You can say whatever want. But in the end you ARE feeding Industrail Chicken Manure to cattle that in turn is being feed to people. I’m sure all of the Arsenic and Hormones that the Chicken eat has been removed from the Chicken Manure before the cattle eat it. Not to mention all of the Dead Chickens that are mixed in with it. Shame on you and the other “so-called” farmers that do this for the almighty dollar. Oh, I know you aren’t going to get rich. All of the suckers that buy into this never do. Just before the lease program runs out, they come in and tell you to upgrade a bunch of your parts. But, you don’t have the money to do this. That’s okay, we can just add it to your lease. You never get it paid for or out of debt.
You can call yourself a Christian all you want. But it does say in the Bible that “Man can NOT live in his own filth”. I do believe feeding Chicken Manure to cattle falls into that category.
Don’t eat it simple. educate others and buy local I don’t like the idea of feed crap either. But the fact is less than 2 % of the population feeds the rest of the United states yet folks don’t want to pay more for good food. I mean just look Folks voted for Obama because they thought they were going to get it all for free. Raise your own beef then you know what you fed it and you don’t have to eat this chicken crap. Or at least quite buying your food at Wall-mart and other stores where fine chicken crap is sold. Buy local from someone you trust
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This seems to have been written from a Canadian perspective. Now I’m curious… how much beef do we import into Canada? I’m quite positive we are net exporters, why would be import any?
Wouldn’t that be a riot if Canada was banning American beef for a change.
I’m just glad I grew up on a small family farm eating our own poultry, beef, vegetables, and venison and other wild game we had on the property. Now that I live in the city, I still get all my meat from small local family operations, so I know where it’s coming from and what’s going in it. From my perspective, that’s the only rational response. Of course it costs more! It has to!
Here’s a story that seems to imply Canada does import at least some U.S. beef: http://www.rense.com/general46/sevben.htm
I am in awe at the responses to the fact of feeding litter to cattle. Some of you have done some research but others are just finding something to complain about. I own a chicken farm myself and do sell littler to cattle farmers, but I can assure you it doesn’t have chicken parts in it. There is a process for this to prepare the littler for fertilizer or feed. As the man said earlier, when the littler is drystacked it will go through a heat and change appearance and yes even smell! Now it will indeed have a chocolaty smell and somewhat sweet smell. I have not tasted it but I do know cattle love it. NOW for all those in disbelief , I guess the old saying applies….you don’t know sugar from shit!!
well im from ireland and its un heard of here feeding chicken litter to cattle but if it was spread on ground for fertiliizer and had dead chickens in it it would cause botelism like wat happened in germany recently would kill cattle if fed to em un treated
so i think if u compost it like wat ben johnson is saying there is no way any farmer could risk losing his animals alltogather by dieng u sure would be on a free fall to bank rupcy
as for u bible bashers here bobby horne there a there a bible blog why dont u save it for there
no farmer risks losing his stock if it was wrong by nature it would not work
mind u i wouldnt like to eat chicken dung my self lol
i cant believe this is happening!
This is disgusting. Chickens? THis is how they get their protien?
I use both turkey litter and broiler litter for fertilizer on hay, pasture, and corn. If broiler litter is dumped in the pasture, the cows immediately start eating it. During the dry periods of the summer I try to keep a trailor load in each pasture to be spread in the fall. It is the cow’s choice to eat it just as it is the wild turkey’s choice to eat the corn out of the cow patties.
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i respect you and your thoughts you are doing a great job.
you are sustainable man….
Carry on your work it is terrific i respect your work ..
please give me your phone no. i have a poultry farm in delhi,india and want to visit your farmhouse if possible…
This is very good eye openner. Am glad its given me food for thought on animal feeds
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