Potentially dumb question about intensive chicken farming?

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Question by Julia: Potentially dumb question about intensive chicken farming?
I’m reading a book called ‘The end of food’ by Paul Roberts. At one point, when discussing mass chicken production in the USA he states that the broilers are very top heavy (bred for extra breast meat) and are killed at around 5 weeks old, which is well before they are capable of laying eggs. He also says that nobody has ever seen what one of these specially human-designed weird meaty chickens would look like as an adult as they are all killed at 5 weeks old.

That begs the question – where do the eggs come from that hatch into these super-weird meaty chickens? Surely there must be millions of adult versions of these chickens laying millions of eggs somewhere … or has science managed to do away with the eggs somehow? Thanks!

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4 Responses to Potentially dumb question about intensive chicken farming?

  1. Science hasn’t done away with eggs. But it is possible that the chickens hatching from those eggs might have some meat-producing genes that do not come from their mother or father or given meat-producing hormones that their parents are not exposed to. I don’t know if the genetically modify or hormonally treat chickens this way or not. If not then I think the author probably didn’t think through the statement he made as thoroughly as he should have.

    February 10, 2014 at 1:25 am

  2. I read that book…fantastic book. Well written.

    Answer…the chickens are usually crosses of four different types of chicken breeds that produce those freakishly large, extremely fast growing chickens. Also those meat chickens are fed diets to make them grow extremely fast.

    It’s kind of the same with the main commercial meat turkeys. They grow so extremely huge, so fast their legs also give out. They are so stupid they can no longer even have sex. Humans have to take sperm from the male turkey and artificial inseminate the female turkeys. I can only assume the female turkeys are fed a diet to keep some of the weight off them, so they can lay the eggs.

    To breed the commercial chickens, you take two chickens of two different chicken breeds and breed them to make a hybrid. You then take two other chicken breeds, breed them together, and make a hybrid. The two hybrids are then bred together, to produce the eggs for the commercial meat chickens.

    Four grandparent chickens, of four different breeds produce
    Two hybrid parent chickens
    Hybrid parents lay all the eggs to produce the meat chickens

    Hopefully that explanation works, since I cannot put a pedigree up.
    They are very specific crosses to produce the fastest growing meat chicken possible.

    Permaculture homesteading/farming over 20 years

    February 10, 2014 at 2:00 am

  3. I have raised the hybrid cornish rock cross to almost adulthood. The bird was 26 weeks when it died of probably a heart attack-it weighed in at 25 pounds and was beginning to show interest in my laying hens (which were 1/4 its’ size).

    I know of several people who have successfully raised this hybrid to adulthood and have bred them. the trick is a heavily restricted diet so the birds do not get more than 7 pounds. the result was not at all like the parent. The chicks came in all colors, did not typically have the fast growth of their parents nor the heavy breasts.

    As Garnet says, these birds are the result of a careful hybrid breeding program where they cross white rock hens with cornish game bird cocks (and likely there are a couple of other breeds tossed in for good measure). the hens lay eggs that will hatch to become the hybrid meat bird that is by far the most common bird raised for meat in the USA

    I gotta say the author is wrong on many respects-most meat birds are killed at 7 weeks of age-roasters are killed at 8 to 10 weeks. Cornish hens are killed at 4 to 5 weeks. And as i already pointed out lots of people know what they are like as adults as many small farmers do indeed try to raise a couple to adulthood and several have tried breeding them.

    February 10, 2014 at 2:22 am

  4. just like all the rest of the chickens

    Eric J
    February 10, 2014 at 3:11 am

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