This issue is all about genetics and industry greed. There are only three major breeding companies in the broiler industry—in the world! One of the breeding companies is owned by a major chicken producer, another owned by investment bankers. And they all breed chickens to achieve the following goals, with little to no thought for the health and welfare of the chickens:
- Fast weight gain
- Bigger birds
- Bigger breasts
- More eggs per hen
- Most efficient feed conversion
- Significant cost per pound decrease in processing costs (costs the same amount to process a 4 lb. bird as it does an 8 lb. bird)
All at the least cost over all.
Our industry is hoping to give each of the chickens “some kind of pill” and hope it all goes away. It’s like drinking excessive alcohol and expecting not to have a headache the next day.
The term “Slow Growing” birds is being overused. The big chicken companies aren’t interested in correcting the breeding issue… Lengthening the growing cycle by a few days isn’t going to fix the problem. Putting time and effort into new breeding stock will fix the issue, but it is costly.
Here at Bell & Evans, we are working overtime to import parent stock from a new partner with genetic lines that will bring us back to the quality of lines we once knew. We expect to transition all breeders to new genetics over the next 2 years.