WATT Poultry USA - February 2018 - 25
"Our chickens already receive
a high-quality feed, and that won't
change, regardless of the increased
feed conversion," Sechler said,
also noting Bell & Evans' flock is
100 percent antibiotic free. "We've
always tried to slow down the
growth of the faster-growing breeds
by offering our chickens a highquality, well-balanced blend of
U.S.-grown corn and extruded and
expeller-pressed soy, along with
our own blend of essential oils like
oregano, cinnamon and yucca. We
don't overfeed them or add fillers to
plump them up."
Ultimately, Bell & Evans'
goal is to "raise a better-tasting
February 2018 ❙ www.WATTAgNet.com
chicken," but detractors of the slowgrowing birds cite the environmental impact of heritage strains
(longer life = greater footprint) and
the need for additional chicken production to make up for supply deficits as their downfall in commercial
Driven by the animal welfare movement, California's
Proposition 2/AB1437 and retailer's pledge to only purchase
cage-free eggs by 2025, the U.S.
cage-free egg production has
nearly doubled. According to the
American Egg Board's October
2017 report, 15.8 percent of the
U.S. flock now consists of cagefree hens.
To meet the demand of buyers'
cage-free commitment, in less than
a decade, U.S. egg producers must
convert more than half of their
production to "cage-free systems,"
which allow hens room to stand, sit,
turn around and extend their limbs
without touching another bird or
the sides of the cage.
According to the Coalition for
Sustainable Egg Supply, aside from
the capital costs incurred by growers, feed costs will increase as well:
"While feed consumption per hen
was similar across all [production]