The differences between chickens... the good the bad and the ugly
They are bigger... isn't that good?
Here is an image of how chickens progressed in the name of production and quantity to, as we so often hear today "feed the world".
My father grew up catching chickens and he reports that when he started catching chickens the cycle from chicks to full weight was about 14 weeks. When he moved on from that job (which is a pretty stinky job it should be featured on dirty jobs the TV show) the cycle was down to 10 weeks.
The bottom line...
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!
So does this really matter? To your health?
Well, I'm not going to make any judgements for you, I'm only going to share my experience in raising them, and some other peoples experience in seeing them when they visited them.
1) The hybrid chickens even when they are chicks hardly move. You wouldn't notice this unless you also raised heritage birds, because they move ALOT! They take runs at each other they are testing out their wings on day 1 already. To me that is weird, but maybe its just the breed right?
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