The differences between chickens... the good the bad and the ugly
I wrote an article about heritage chicken a while back for Rare Republic you can find it by click on the highlighted text. It was about how heritage chickens and what we refer to as hybrid chicken (hybrid chickens are what most people eat and come from grocery stores) are so different. Its hard to explain to anyone who maybe hasn't seen them side by side or spent much time with them.
Well, yes I guess if you want lots of breast meat and not a lot of much else. Which you will probably agree with me is the major market for chicken. As we get away from green farming and more toxic laden feed is fed to these guys there is a scare on eating too much animal fat... I agree I don't want to eat the fat from them either so the breast is the leanest.
The bottom line...
In farming as a business, if you get a chicken to be able to eat less and produce more meat, in a shorter amount of time.... well that's just good business! So we still get chicken meat, and its more financially sound for farmers, RIGHT?
Well, maybe. But in order to produce these guys, the feed needs to be super high in energy (aka corn and then you risk GMO's) You also have genetic hybridization over many many years. Humans deciding what qualities to select for in breeding and maybe leaving out things like health, robustness, natural instincts, but surely they remembered to look for big breasts... its like hollywoodizing chicken farming!
2) Hybrid chickens have a tendency to break their legs. To me this shows a lack of bone density, and what we know about bones, even in humans a lack of bone density suggests a whole host of other issues. I'm not totally sold on chickens that break their legs even when they are given the most prima donna type environment to live in. Meaning they don't have to go up and down ramps into the house where their food is, its all on one level. We use a very dense and very absorb able micro nutrient supplement (and very organic) and still there are leg and wing issues. Hybrid birds tend to also bruise their wings more because when they are outside they will flap around more, and sometimes I'll see one with a broken wing. If a bird can't do what a bird is essentially designed to do... to me that begs a question or eight.
3) Hybrid chickens as they get older - up to 10 weeks, if you feed them all the feed they can consume (just keeping feed in front of them), will start to randomly keel over with heart attacks. I decided to hold back their feed a bit, and sort of ration their consumption so I could maybe prevent this. Some farmers put cayenne pepper in the feed to help with inflammation. Still there are heart attacks daily.
4) If you start to slowly raise them, sort of allowing them to build up more leg strength to handle their heavy bodies, and slowly feed them, they will start to consume SO much feed towards the end of their cycle because they are designed to eat eat eat... repeat. The cost of raising the birds out weighs what we can sell them for. So in some ways we are forced to grow them the way they were intended, intense feeding and short life.
5) The cost of hybrid chicken vs heritage chicken. Heritage chicken does cost more because they are being fed less intense or high energy food, they take longer to grow. However if a hybrid chicken were to stay alive for as long as the heritage chicken, farmers would experience much more loss, and much higher feeding costs than heritage because they are putting on less weight and still eating that much food towards the end. In the end heritage is actually the best nutrient bang for your buck (in my opinion). Their legs don't break! Their wings are less bruised, as Kathryn from Vibrant Farms experienced, they "Just look healthier" and flap around and fly around sort of like you'd expect birds to do. Laura from Vibrant Farms who raises chickens on the farm also reports having to force the hybrid chickens outside (on a beautiful sunny, not a cloud in the sky type of day) where as the heritage are waiting at the door to peck at grubs and worms and dirt and grass.
Which ones do you want to eat?
Here is a little article on hybrid and heritage layers... hybrid layers are built for production, as you can see in this article he suggests to scrap they heritage if you want any sort of egg production. I guess you have to decide whats important to you
Who is The Farmer's Daughter?
Well I was born at home, and raised on a 200 yr old farm that became organic the year i was born, so I guess you could say I'M certified Organic!
"A big shout out to you & Vibrant Farms Organic Beef... best chicken EVER! And the beef is great too!" ~Sue M., Niagara