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News Items About The Practice Of Farmers Raising Cattle on Chicken Manure

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The following news items offer further documentation that, as unbelievable as it sounds, this practice really does occur! If you see any more recent news stories, please let us know.  Apparently, this news story has drop from the media's attention, even though it is still happening.

bulletUses of Chicken Manure New York Times, Oct 14, 1997
bulletPhysicians Committee for Responsible Medicine recommends Banning Chicken Manure as Cattle Feed  Reuters, Oct 1, 1997
bullet Penn State University Sept, 9, 1997
bulletPOULTRY WASTE AS CATTLE FEED University of California-Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, Aug 27, 1997
bulletINSPECTING MEAT Associated Press, Aug 24, 1997


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Uses of Chicken Manure

October 14, 1997

The New York Times


A brief about Dr. Paul H. Patterson, assistant professor of poultry science at Pennsylvania State University and colleagues, who are attempting to alter poultry feed to create better manure. The story says that although poultry manure can be burned for fuel or even reprocessed into food for other chickens and turkeys, it is most commonly used as fertilizer. But conventional feeding practices produce manure loaded with nitrogen and phosphorus. The two chemicals are crucial for poultry nutrition but can cause pollution problems when manure is applied to fields and runs off into rivers and streams when it rains. Patterson was cited as saying that feed based on corn and sorghum contains much of its phosphorus in a form birds cannot easily digest. This phosphorus ends up in their manure, but basing feeds on other substances or adding Vitamin D helps birds absorb phosphorus. Lowering the amount of protein in feed results in manure containing less nitrogen.

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October 1, 1997


WASHINGTON -- Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine president Dr. Neal Barnard was cited as calling on beef producers to voluntarily ban the practice of feeding chicken manure to cattle and also urged the U.S. Agriculture Department to investigate the health risks of the practice, which, the story says, is most common in large poultry-producing states. Barnard was quoted as saying, "Chicken manure is filled with the disease-causing organisms, heavy metals and veterinary drugs the chicken managed to expel. Unless the manure is carefully treated, using it in cattle feed supercharges a cow's intestinal tract with disease-causing bacteria that can be passed along to humans." The story says PCRM is a non-profit group that promotes preventive medicine, including vegetarianism, as the way to good health. The story adds that Barnard co-authored an article in the current issue of Preventive Medicine which found that 18 per cent of Arkansas chicken farmers together feed about 2.6 million lbs of chicken manure to cattle each year. Baranrd added that while a temperature of 145 degrees, Fahrenheit, is required to kill some forms of salmonella bacteria, the chicken manure fed to cattle is treated in a way that the temperature rarely gets above 110 to 140 degrees. The story also cites Barnard as saying that a recent poll commissioned by the PCRM revealed that 72 per cent of Americans would eat less beef or avoid it altogether if they knew it came from cattle fed on chicken manure. The same poll also found that news of Hudson Foods Inc.'s 25-million-lb hamburger recall due to suspected E. coli contamination and fish kills in the Mid-Atlantic region thought to be linked to poultry waste runoff, was having an impact on consumer food-buying and eating habits. About half of those surveyed planned to take more kitchen precautions, while nine per cent planned to buy less poultry, 12 per cent planned to cut back on beef and 18 per cent planned more vegetarian meals Chuck Lambert, chief economist for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association was cited as saying that chicken manure is used as a protein supplement for cattle, especially during winter when grass resources are scarce, adding, "Outside the yuck factor, it's a sound management practice or at least it has been," noting that the cattle industry has relied on previous research indicating the practice is safe.

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August 27, 1997

from ProMED

From: John Kirk <[email protected]>

In California, the use of poultry waste as a feed for cattle is regulated by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Poultry waste must be treated to provide a "specific pathogen" free product. Treatment is by proprietary processes, which is primarily heating. Recently we conducted an on-dairy trial to determine if processed poulty waste contained Salmonella sp., E. coli (generic), E. coli O157 or Campylobacter sp. upon arrival at the dairy and after storage on the dairy for about 2 weeks. We were not able to isolate Salmonella, E. coli O157 or Campylobacter from the surface or interior of the storage piles at either testing period. Generic E. coli was present. Our conclusion was that processed poultry waste was not an important source of these three pathogens for dairy animals. It should be noted that processed poultry waste is generally only fed to growing heifers and on some dairies, dry cows.

John H. Kirk, DVM, MPVM

Extension Veterinarian - Dairy

School of Veterinary Medicine

University of California-Davis

e-mail: <[email protected]>

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August 24, 1997



WASHINGTON -- Agriculture officials are cited as saying in this story that no matter how sophisticated government testing of meat and poultry becomes, the sheer volume produced in America may make it impossible to detect all dangerous bacteria in food.

Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman was quoted as saying, "There is probably no way to absolutely foolproof this process." Agriculture experts were also cited as telling U.S. News & World Report that farmers often add waste substances to livestock and poultry feed. Chicken manure, which is cheaper than alfalfa, is increasingly used as feed by cattle farmers despite possible health risks to consumers, says the magazine reaching newsstands today. Dr. Neal Barnard, head of the Washington-based health lobby, Physicians for Responsible Medicine, was quoted as telling the magazine that, "Feeding manure that has not been properly processed is supercharging the cattle feces with pathogens likely to cause disease in consumers." The story also adds that the number of inspectors at the agency's Food Safety and Inspection Service fell from about 12,000 in 1978 to 7,500 today -- to cover the 6,500 private meat and poultry plants around the country.

Using Chicken Manure as Cattle Feed

CNN - Are humans endangered if cattle dine on chicken manure?
August 23, 1997, Web posted at: 1:52 p.m. EDT (1752 GMT)


University Guidelines to Ranchers to Feed Chicken Manure to cattle:

from North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service: "Guidelines for Feeding Broiler Litter to Beef Cattle"
March 1996
Summary: Beef cattle producers searching for ways to lower feed costs and/or stretch feed supplies should consider broiler litter as a possible nutrient source for wintering, growing, and finishing rations. When fed in nutritionally balanced rations, broiler litter is a valuable source of crude protein and minerals for beef cattle.


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