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From the News Archives...

In 1956, scientist finds health problems in chickens raised in confinement (12/16/00)

The trend toward factory farming was just gaining momentum when Hugh Sinclair, a respected British scientist, made the following pronouncement: "There are good and bad chickens. I am in favor of the backyard hen, but I am not so certain about the battery-fed hen."

Sinclair based his remarks on a "simple experiment" he conducted in the summer of 1956. He gathered fertile eggs from free-range hens and from hens raised in confinement. When the eggs hatched, he examined the day-old chicks. He found unhealthy fatty deposits in the aortas of the chicks hatched from factory eggs but none in the chicks from the free-range birds. Next, he raised some of the chicks from the free-range birds in a confinement setting and some on a free-range farm. At maturity, none of the free-range birds had fatty streaks, but the birds raised in confinement had a significant amount of fatty deposits.

Sinclair attributed the better health of the free-range birds to their more natural diet, which included seeds, greens, insects, and earthworms---foods rich in essential fatty acids, especially the omega-3s.

Sinclair, H. (1960). "Essential Fatty Acid Content of Hens' Eggs." The Lancet January 28, 1961.

 

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