Local farmer: animals meant to be in natural environment

By SARAH LIDEEN, Staff Writer , sarah.lideen@ecm-inc.com

Alvin Schlangen of Freeport  knows chickens and their direct relationship with human health.

Schlangen uses a scale made in Holland to sort eggs by weight, which determines if they are separated into extra large, large, or medium cartons. Schlangen’s hens produce up to 15 dozen eggs per day.

According to Schlangen, if the food we consume was more natural in its environment then people would be healthier.

“Having access to nature, sunshine and grass has become so much a part of our management,” said Schlangen.

Starting his farm in 1986 with wife, Alice, and always having an interest in healthy foods, he began heavily researching 30 years ago, where his interest grew into how animals function and how they are meant to function.

“We are completely connected to nature,” said Schlangen.

Managing about 1,000 hens at all times, Schlangen lets them roam free in well-managed pastures during the warmer months with ground that is full of minerals, keeping in mind their long term health at all times.

“To me, what makes soil and land sustainable is a system where you replace the nutrients that you take from it every year,” said Schlangen.

Removing the salt from sea salt is the first step in the process to regaining natural minerals. Those minerals can then be concentrated into a liquid and are then mixed and added into the feed. These same minerals can be used as a human supplement or as plant food.

“We’re trying to replenish and rebuild so plants are healthy and animals will be healthy off those plants, then people will live healthy without having to supplement everything,” said Schlangen.

Schlangen’s theory is that if animals are able to act like they would in nature and follow their instincts, then they will create a healthier food than if they are forced to live in confined conditions.

“We’re trying to promote quality food production and the family connection to it,” said Schlangen.

During the winter months, hens are left to roam freely through their barn, where they are provided with comfortable and safe areas for them to lay their eggs, a process that can take five minutes or up to a half hour.

According to Schlangen, eating an egg from a hen that is exposed to grass and direct sunlight, as opposed to one that is kept in a wire box, has more health effects than the general public realizes and that people need to bring their food supply back into it’s most natural form.

“Part of the reason why I think people don’t have more options is because they don’t know where to look for honest answers,” said Schlangen.

No pesticides or hormones are used on the farm and hens are allowed to live how nature intended them to.

 Although once organically certified, eight years ago Schlangen decided it was not for him.

“It’s not always conducive to healthy animals, although it started out that way. It’s turned into another option to potentially mass produce food,” said Schlangen, who actively promotes local production.

Schlangen is all about health and the truth from where the general public’s food comes from. Although no longer attending farmers’ markets, he describes the events as being a great opportunity to expand the market and to educate people about what farming is really like.

“I think the whole industrial era when we thought everything had to be bigger, better and mechanized, changed a lot of people’s attitudes about the value of work and of food,” said Schlangen.

Even during the winter months, Schlangen’s hens are left to roam free in their barn without being confined to a wired cage. They are exposed to direct sunlight and are provided with recycled paper bedding.

Working 18 hour days two days a week delivering his product, Schlangen said that most of his demand lies in the Twin Cities area, while he also sells his products in Alexandria and St. Cloud.

“I don’t know how not to do this anymore, I think it’s that important,” said Schlangen.

Schlangen recommends that anyone interested in more information on living and staying healthy, to visit www.mercola.com.

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