quote from the ASPCA website "In 1925, it took 16 weeks to raise a
chicken to 2.5 pounds. Today, chickens weigh double that in just six
So for all the genetic improvement over the last 80 plus years we can definitely see a big part of the focus was get the birds to slaughter weight as fast as possible.
Which begs the question: How fast is too fast?
In this case if you were to compare the growth rate of a human to that of a modern day broiler chicken you would find According to the University of Arkansas, if humans grew at a similar rate, a 6.6-pound newborn baby would weigh 660 pounds after two months.
You have to admit, that's pretty fast by anyone's standards!
At Spring Hill Farms we have been raising Label Rouge broilers since they have been available in the United States. Although these birds grow slower than Cornish Cross, they are faster than a chicken in 1925.
Of course this type of "exposure" about what's going on in the poultry industry causes some very fervent emotions. The last time I checked there were about 300 comments on the ASPCA's blog where they announced the launch of The Truth about Chicken.
Before this campaign was launched I was contacted by the ASPCA to inquire if I would allow them to use a quote from my blog about what I felt was wrong with Cornish Cross chickens. You can read that blog post here.
I'll be honest with you...I was hesitant at first because I really had no idea what the ASPCA stood for when it came to livestock welfare. After a conversation with them and reading through their website I felt that they have a fairly balanced approach to livestock issues.
Many of the humane and cruelty type organizations have a "do not eat meat" mindset. I obviously wouldn't agree with that type of philosophy.
Of course I believe high welfare standards are a very central part of raising livestock.
See I don't believe that the fastest growth rate obtainable for poultry or any other livestock is the number one one factor.
I believe that high welfare standards should come first followed by nutritional quality of the meat, flavor profiles, sustainability, etc.
A small farm that is ran right should reflect a place:
- that cares about animals
- provides food that helps keep you healthy
- is responsible to the environment
I signed the petition for The Truth about Chicken and I urge you to do so also.
If you are a small farmer let people know you believe the industrial poultry farm model is not the way to raise chickens. If you're using Cornish Cross birds on your small farm stop using them and get something better suited to the small farm model.
If we take a stand on these issues through organizations like the ASPCA and stop supporting the commercial poultry industry with our dollars things will begin to change.
At the very least we'll be able to sleep a little better at night knowing we are doing something to help facilitate change where it is needed very badly.
Sign the petition here: "The Truth about Chicken"
Until next time...
David Fogle is owner of Spring Hill Farms in Newark, Ohio you can follow him on Google+