Since my childhood, I’ve been told to believe that broiler chicken was made to grow faster due to hormones and antibiotics, and it seemed to be logical to me since normal chickens took almost twice the time to grow to the size.
This is actually a blatant lie and I recognized it only since visiting a poultry farm. These chicken are actually a genetic variant of normal chicken with a slightly higher growth rate, which is fed a high protein diet. 2 things to consider are that these are not the same chicken that is grown in backyards of our houses and also that normal chickens are not on a high protein diet to promote such a high growth.
For eg, just because an average man in the Netherlands has height almost 20% more than an Indonesian doesn’t mean the former is on any kind of steroid or hormones of any sort. It’s just a genetic variation among a population that’s common in the animal kingdom. Consider a Holstein cow that weighs almost 550–600 kgs whereas breeds indigenous to India like the Vechuri cow weighs only 130 kgs.
About the usage of antibiotics, the amount fed to a batch of chicken during the entire 40–60 day period is almost 100 gm on the 5th day to improve the immunity of the chicks.
Doing the math, that’s about 25 mg per chick. Considering that with the withdrawal period of antibiotics is a maximum of 2 weeks in chicken, there tend to be no residual antibiotics. Even if the entire antibiotics stay in the chicken, you have to eat more than a dozen to exceed the daily limit, which most probably you can’t eat in a day. If you think that the antibiotic levels are higher than the maximum dosage of humans, do remember that chicks can’t sustain that level of dosage and will die in the initial few hours of contact.
The reason why they don’t lay eggs mainly is that most males won’t be able to mount the females to fertilize the eggs due to the higher weight. Also, high-fat content in animals is a known factor to decrease fertility in them. I’ve seen farms trying to breed them but rarely do they lay eggs. Also, it takes almost 6 months for a broiler to reach sexual maturity which they rarely reach. They only lay about 140 eggs per year compared to 300/ year in layers like Cobb 380.
Their bones do not grow as fast due to lack of calcium when compared to the high levels of protein which increase the weight of hen leading to slight limping like walking but is totally normal in them.
They substantially lack many vitamins and minerals since the diet doesn’t consist of them, unlike a normal pasture-fed chicken. They are not as good as a protein source when compared to seafood. Also, over consumption leads to high cholesterol level due to high-fat content. High protein content may lead to higher uric acid in certain individuals. Also, this study clearly states that ‘IT DOESN’T CAUSE PROSTATE CANCER’Poultry consumption and prostate cancer risk: a meta-analysis.
They are prone to several health risks due to the rapid growth rate like
- Cardiovascular dysfunction
- Skeletal dysfunction
- Ocular dysfunction
but, there seem to be no records of transfer to people who consume it due to it being a purely physical disability and not a disease.
The welfare of broilers is of particular concern given a large number of individuals that are produced.
- Stocking density
Higher stocking densities are associated with increased dermatitis including food pad lesions, breast blisters, and soiled plumage.
In a large-scale experiment with commercial farms, it was shown that the management conditions (litter quality, temperature, and humidity) were more important than stocking density.
- Catching and transport
Once the broilers have reached the target live-weight, they are caught, usually by hand, and packed live into crates for transport to the slaughterhouse. They are usually deprived of food and water for several hours before catching until slaughter. The process of catching, loading, transport, and unloading causes serious stress, injury and even death to a large number of broilers.