We appreciate Joel's response to Kroger's press release about the carbon neutral eggs. People should
always be able to disagree and look at things from different perspectives. In particular when people sincerely try to improve the global food system. And that is exactly what we are doing at Kipster.
We support Joel's idea that animals should be raised on pasture from ananimal welfare perspective. And we also support the quite simple thought provoking role of animals in the food system, according to global research [source: https://www.wur.nl/nl/Personen/Hannah-HHE-Hannah-van-Zanten-MSc.htm]. At Kipster we implement this by redefing the role of farm animals in the food-system. Kipster chickens serve three interconnected functions:
- Up-cyclers of food-waste
- Suppliers of fertilizers
- Suppliers of eggs and meat
In this holistic approach agricultural fertilesoils should be used to grow crops for humans, not livestock. Marginal lands can be grazed by dairy animals, or in the US case, prairies belong to bison and other wildlife. Organic waste is for livestock. It's how agriculture has been done for thousands of years. We vitalize it in a contemporary way. Pigs and chickens are omnivores and efficient ‘waste’ processors. Animals can eat by-products from food manufacturing, organic waste, post-harvest waste. By-products from slaughter facilities are nutritious protein sources for chickens. If we should implement this way of farming globally, everyone in the whole world could eat a maximum of about 20 grams of animal protein per day. The problem is that in Europe, and even more so in the USA, we go way over that with our 70 to 85 grams of animal protein per person per day. Unsustainable!
At my grandparents farm, it was like that. Unfortunately, over the last 50 years we've lost sight
of that and started raising animals and feeding them grains and corn just because we wanted to make as much meat, milk, and eggs as possible at the lowest possible cost. In doing so, we lost sight of the global food supply, the climate, biodiversity AND the animal. I have had large-scale conventional poultry farms myself. But it's a dead end. So it's not at allabout how much animal product we want to eat, but how much animal product we can maximize in a sustainable food system. In terms of livestock, the limiting
factor then is the residual streams. And of course, we first need to waste as little food as possible. This immediately means that we can also reduce our animal production, with all its problems.
Above and beyond the requirements
That's the basis of Kipster. And yes, you can make great chicken feed from waste streams. My
grandfather already did that.... Next, if we use animals in our food system, do it in the most animal-friendly, climate-friendly and people-friendly way possible. That is not greenwashing, but we are simply
acknowledging that there are problems and that we are doing our utmost to minimize or solve them. At Kipster we go above and beyond the requirements of the animal welfare certifying bodies. For example: we don’tkill day old roosters, we don’t cut beaks, we have an indoor garden with
daylight in the barns, we catch our spent hens in a less harmful way. Joel's different ideas of how animals should be raised is definitely a good way to go. Raising animals on pasture may well be the best way for animals we even have left in the future.At least, if you feed them exclusively with residuals, not crops that can feed humans first. Unfortunately, the world is not there yet.
As a side note, broiler chickens are not needed at all in our food system. The most efficient
farm animals in providing proteins to people are dairy cows, laying hens and
pigs. The meat from spent hens and roosters is an untapped valuable source of
protein for people. Currently, that meat ends up in pet food and landfill. One
pound of this meat can replace pound of broiler meat, and thereby, reduce the
amount of resources such as land, water and feed that is needed for production
of broilers. Everything else is superfluous. Let's all work on that.
In the future, we hope that a world food system is possible without the exploitation and killing of
animals. Perhaps it sounds strange coming from the mouth of a chicken farmer.
But let's all work towards that!
Ruud (Founding Farmer Kipster)