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Egg farmers: Good managing can help control salmonella

Published Sep. 10, 2010 | Discuss this article on Facebook

Source: USA TODAY | By Elizabeth Weise

PEARL CITY, Ill. — There is nothing small scale about Pearl Valley Eggs, deep in the heart of Illinois farm country. The egg farm itself, two miles south of the nearest town, is a neat collection of 350-foot- and 450-foot henhouses covered in white steel siding. They're linked by overhead pipes that bring in ground corn and soybeans from the farm's own feed mill.

The farm employs 100 people and produces 800,000 to 850,000 eggs a day, seven days a week. "The chickens don't stop laying eggs just because it's the weekend," says Ben Thompson, 30, who runs the farm with his father, Dave.

The chickens live in 27.7-inch-by-22.6-inch cages, eight to a cage. The cages are 19 inches tall, says Dave Thompson, 61, the farm's founder. "I made them extra tall because I wanted them to have more room." The six rows of cages are stacked on top of each other, in lines 277 cages long.

Yet, in the face of the nation's largest recorded egg recall, a total of 550 million eggs potentially infected with salmonella enteritidis, and revelations of filthy conditions at the two Iowa egg farms involved, many animal rights groups and organic supporters have pointed a finger of blame at industrial animal agriculture.

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