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September 16, 2013 12:11 PM   Subscribe

Whoa, I had no idea I lived in such high density chicken country. There are just a few thousand cows in my entire county, but over a million chickens.
posted by mathowie at 12:25 PM on September 16, 2013

Way to go Alaska!
posted by goethean at 12:27 PM on September 16, 2013

Man, I knew my school was in a rural area, but 9.5 MILLION chickens in Rockingham, VA was more than I was expecting (and more than twice the second-place county). Wonder why there's such a concentration.
posted by Hargrimm at 12:46 PM on September 16, 2013

Wish they mapped the actual locations.

I've been all over this county, and I'd really like to know where they're hiding 700,000 chickens.

(Also, I'm assuming by "meat plants" they mean packing, in which case they missed the packing plant down the street, let alone the dozen or so others in the state.)
posted by madajb at 12:55 PM on September 16, 2013

Not nearly as many as I thought, to be honest.
posted by jquinby at 1:01 PM on September 16, 2013

I'm with madajb. I'd like to know more than the number of animals on such farms in my county. Specifically, I want to know the names of the farms, where in my county they are, and how many animals are estimated at each.

I don't disagree with the premise that factory farms affect us all -- so why not show us the actual farm locations and the data from which these numbers are being pulled?
posted by bearwife at 1:08 PM on September 16, 2013

Jesus! There's one in my guest room!
posted by orme at 1:09 PM on September 16, 2013 [7 favorites]

Just another cog in the Dollar Menu machine.

I wonder if I worked in a factory farm if I would become desensitized before I swore off meat altogether.

I also wonder what selfish defense is at play where I can know that this is where the chicken I have defrosting at home comes from, yet will allow me to still cook, eat and enjoy this tonight.

(I actually swore off meat for over a year after reading Dead Meat, but the siren call of a Jamaican Beef Patty with Cheese started my backslide into voluntary denial/ignorance of the suffering of livestock).
posted by Debaser626 at 1:16 PM on September 16, 2013

I know it's impossible to have up-to-the-minute totals, but I sure wish they had 2012 data. My county grew by 80,000 hogs from 2002 to 2007, and I'd love to see if that's continuing or not. I also wish they'd have some family farm data for comparison; is it even possible to be a pig farmer and not be a "factory farmer"?
posted by epj at 1:30 PM on September 16, 2013

I also wonder what selfish defense is at play where I can know that this is where the chicken I have defrosting at home comes from, yet will allow me to still cook, eat and enjoy this tonight

I think the disconnect between production and packaged product was complete for a good long time, but the Internet has re-established it. For a lot of folks, this has created a demand for humanely produced local meat. You end up paying a premium for it, but it's out there*.

We buy beef from a local farmer, and it works out to 1.25/lb for the lot, but it's grass-fed and free of any sort of anti-biotics or growth hormones. Compared to store bought grass-fed, it's a bargain, but you buy it all at once so there's a large-ish initial outlay. Then you have to store it, &c.

* TL;DR: money. Feeding the kids a bag of Tyson Dino Nuggets is cheap.
posted by jquinby at 1:30 PM on September 16, 2013

Huh. The one county I'm intimately familiar with is labeled as extreme, but that's very misleading - there's a lot of cattle, to be sure, but the conditions are nothing like factory farming (very few concentrated feedlots, a lot of pasture land) and I'm not personally aware of any of the larger operations there selling to big meatpackers (and I know the largest operations in the county and am related to one of them), the big family farms sell cattle at auction, directly to consumers, and to small-to-midsize operations like Laura's Lean Beef. Just going off of total head count without looking at conditions is sloppy.

It may be an anomalous county, it's certainly unique in other ways - being deep deep blue in a deep deep red state due to old roots in the northern/midwestern Farmer's Alliance when a lot of the family farms were established - but it's still very misleading to call it extreme factory farming in at least this one county, so I wouldn't be surprised if there are others where it's misleading.
posted by jason_steakums at 1:47 PM on September 16, 2013

My chickens (AKA the "Free Rangers", or "The Buff Menace") just started laying yesterday, so I no longer have to buy eggs from the gigantic (as in multiple acres under 1 roof sized) poultry "farms" which dot my county.
posted by Chrischris at 2:42 PM on September 16, 2013

As someone who grew up driving past Eastern NC hog farms, I envy people who need a tool more technologically sophisticated than a nose to locate local factory farms.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 3:42 PM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Iowa here. The idea that I need a map for this is laughable. Every farm is a factory farm. The family farm is dead--it would be more interesting to see where those still exist.
posted by TrialByMedia at 6:57 PM on September 16, 2013

They didn't include the alligator farms in Louisiana. Those things can be nasty. A Couple of them have been in with the resource agencies, and never gotten water permits.

I got a call one day (i work in non profit environmental work) from a landowner who had to move away from the gator farm, because they had stuck an unpermitted pipe off her property.
posted by eustatic at 7:48 PM on September 16, 2013

30.401825,-90.637428 is one. it used to have trees downstream from it...
posted by eustatic at 7:49 PM on September 16, 2013

Judging just by the dairy info for my county, I think they are playing fast and loose with the "factory farm" designation for these charts.

I live in a county with a thriving dairy industry which consists almost solely of family-owned businesses where the cows are pastured on grass. The businesses are large, it's true. But I wouldn't call them "factory farms."

I also don't see any source information for these numbers. In fact the number of chickens in my county are labeled "Calculated numbers," meaning "We guessed."

Factory farms are a problem, but this kind of sloppy scaremongering isn't the solution.
posted by ErikaB at 10:06 AM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

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