In most large commercial chicken farms, chickens are fed antibiotics to keep them healthy and fight off infections. The drugs are a relatively cheap, widely available method of doing so while keeping profits quite high. But one chicken farm in Pennsylvania does things a little differently and still manages to maintain excellent results. The farm, owned by Scott Sechler, is one of the first to rely solely on a blend of oregano oil and cinnamon for use in the treatment and care of its chickens. In addition to being completely natural, oregano oil provides the chickens with many health benefits, making this particular technique produce a much higher quality of natural chicken in a much more humane way than would be achieved with antibiotics (now if he would just let them outside to get fresh air and sunshine, let them peck around like they were created to, it would be perfect).
Like antibiotics, the oil helps the chickens fight off infections, reducing the amount of birds – and thereby revenue – lost to disease. The difference? The oil is all natural, of course, and produces much healthier chickens than those fed unnatural, manufactured antibiotics and drugs.
This success reveals an interesting trend when it comes to food shopping in the United States; people are generally becoming more aware of the health risks associated with mass produced, drug-fed chickens that are found on most commercial chicken farms. As such, more and more people are choosing to pay a little more for chicken like the ones found on Sechler’s farm.While the cost of feeding chickens oregano oil instead of antibiotics is considerably higher, Sechler’s farm continues to sell plenty of chicken to consumers and grocery stores alike.
The idea of using natural herbs instead of drugs has been spreading into other areas and onto other types of farms as well. Bob Ruth, president of another Pennsylvania farming company, has been testing oregano on his pigs for the past six months to see if it really does beat out antibiotics as a means of raising healthy chickens.
Why are so many farmers looking for alternative solutions to antibiotics? For starters, antibiotics should not even be a necessity on an animal farm if the farmers do a good, clean job. The issue arises when animals are living in filthy conditions prone to infections and viruses and is also caused as a result of poor slaughterhouse cleaning. Farmers like Scott Sechler realize this and take care to ensure that their slaughterhouses are hosed down and thoroughly disinfected after each set of chickens are slaughtered.
The oregano oil that he uses to keep his chicken healthy then becomes simply just a precaution – something to fill in the gaps. If more farmers and companies valued running humane and healthy operations as opposed to trying to keep profits as high as possible, antibiotics would undoubtedly have no place on modern chicken farms.
Hopefully the meat-buying public will continue to learn more about cramped factory farms and the resultant deadly superbugs the conditions create. Sechler’s step away from antibiotics is definitely a positive one. A much needed global paradigm shift in the current state of the industry is taking place. Now if we could only get the masses to support pasture-raised farms or raise their own free range chicken, that would be an even greater improvement and a move toward being much more healthy, safe, and humane.
*Article originally appeared at Real Farmacy.