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Letters to the Editor

Healthy debate

June 4, 2008

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To the editor:

Dr. Michael Greger is one of the world's leading bird flu experts and the director of public health and animal agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States. Greger tours the globe speaking on chicken disease, especially avian influenza.

According to Greger, keeping small flocks of backyard chickens that are allowed to be out in the sun and wind is the best way to have poultry. The highly pathogenic strands of bird flu like H5N1 have only been found to originate in commercial factory farm situations where chickens are kept in unnaturally high densities, with no access to the outdoors where the dehydrating elements of sun and wind would kill the virus before it had a chance to mutate.

Local folk who take on chickens for pets and a few eggs likely provide excellent care for these birds. With so few chickens at any urban location, special attention comes easy. Always concerned about drinking water supply, diets and cleanliness. Seattle has approximately 1,000 backyard "farms."

With so much information available online, at the library and bookstores, local folks are smart enough to research the matter. Chickens are included in many petting zoos. Chickens are 4-H projects as well.

Face it, many Kansas University students and/or local homeowners were raised on farms with chickens. Some locals are former zoo bird keepers with years of experience. Zoo bird keepers are educated about health concerns relating to fowl and learn to recognize symptoms. Good diets equal healthy pets.

Richard Heckler,
Lawrence

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