Save the chickens

Originally published in Crain’s Chicago Business
January 3, 2013

LouisJohn Slagel wants to farm chickens humanely

Diners looking to save chickens from inhumane conditions and help more naturally raised birds get to Chicago restaurants can donate money to a crowd-funding campaign recently launched by Slagel Family Farm.

The Chicken Freedom Project was started by Fairbury-based chicken and livestock farm in the hopes that concerned foodies will contribute toward raising $40,000 for a down payment on a nearby five-acre farm that had been an industrial chicken facility.

LouisJohn Slagel, a family member who runs the fifth-generation farm 100 miles southwest of Chicago, says they want to dismantle the high-tech commercial egg production system there that kept 100,000 chickens crammed in tight cages stacked 12 feet high. The Slagel family intends to raise cage-free chickens and other humanely treated animals for Chicago restaurants.

“We’re hoping anyone who cares about animal welfare donates to our campaign,” says Mr. Slagel. “It’s a more direct way for someone to make their money count compared to donating to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).”

The online campaign so far has raised a few thousand dollars. Donors from the Chicago area include Justin Hall, owner of Chicago-based Fig Catering, and Michael Tsonton, executive chef at Hotel Arista in Naperville.

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