Is the key to better chicken a smaller chicken?
The Hustle

Is the key to better chicken a smaller chicken?

Genetic selection and industrial farming has created big, unhealthy, less tasty chickens. Could a smaller bird be key?

Industrial farming has created some big chickens. A century ago, a broiler chicken (i.e., a chicken raised for meat) was ~2.5 pounds, per Bloomberg.

Today:

This isn’t good for the chicken, obviously, but it’s not great for those who eat them either. The meat can contain white strips of fat and take on a hard, unappealing texture.

The solution could be a smaller, slower-growing bird

Most of these issues are derived from selectively breeding chickens with heavier body weights, according to the animal welfare nonprofit Global Animal Partnership (GAP).

GAP studied 7.5k+ broiler chickens from 16 genetic strains over 2 years and found that the strains that grew the fastest were, overall, the least healthy.

To get a happier, better-tasting bird, some farmers say it’d be better to breed birds based not on their size, but their:

Right now, 2 companies — Aviagen Group and Tyson Foods subsidiary Cobb-Vantress — control 90%+ of the market’s chicken genetics.

But demand for animal welfare and better-tasting chicken is up, despite costing as much as ~$6.50/pound more.

New Jersey-based D’Artagnan Inc. told Bloomberg demand for its Brune Landaise chickens has jumped 28% since last year.

BTW: No-chicken chicken is hot right now, too. While conventional meat sales are still far greater than alternatives, plant-based tenders and nuggets sales climbed 29% from August 2020 to August 2021.

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