Monster chickens

Over the recent few years, I’ve noticed the size of chicken purchased in grocery stores (US) has increased tremendously. One bird is enough to feed an army. Breasts, thighs, and legs are (I feel) grotesquely large; nearing turkey size, for crying out loud. The poor processors tasked with dispatching these things should receive hazard pay, for I’m certain these giant birds don’t go down without a fight!:wink:
Is this trend the result of consumer demand, or is it driven by some benefit to the producer/marketer?

Clearly it’s both. They sell by the pound, so each unit yields more. Consumers, on the other hand, see it as “getting more.” Same thing with unnaturally turkeys.

We have gotten Young hens from a meat processing plant. Every truck load some escape and they are wandering around the grounds. If you can catch them you can have them. (not easy, btw). They are very big and lay big eggs.
I am sure ( anecdote) they are engineered to be large. It’s all financial.

I often buy organic chicken just to avoid these over sized breasts.

Genetic engineering:

They’re using more Herakleophorbia these days

Humans have practiced selective breeding of domestic animals for thousands of years (and have done the same thing for plant species for perhaps longer). Is that the same thing as “genetic engineering”?

By definition, no. “Genetic engineering” refers to the artificial manipulation of the genome itself, often by inserting genes from entirely different organisms.

Wellll… Irrespective of the reason(s) involved, it has reached a tipping point for me. I used to consume quite a bit of chicken but now, not so much. I find the whopper size unappealing, and feel the taste and texture has suffered to boot. If the strategy is to encourage more chicken consumption, it has backfired on me… I consume less.

bob++ : Thanks for the excellent link.

I don’t know that we’re suddenly producing giant chickens.

The biggest breed in the U.S. currently is said to be the Jersey Giant, which was created in the late 1800s. The next largest breed (the Brahma) dates back at least to the 1850s.

Maybe not “suddenly,” but the chickens marketed today are much larger than in the past.

Also, commercially available chickens are not “genetically engineered/modified.”

But the Jersey Giant is not really a factor in the increased size of commercially available chickens, because (from the link):

From the chicken producer’s point of view, growth rate rather than size per se is one of the most important factors.

Hasn’t the pork industry experienced a similar fate? Hogs brought to market larger, faster, leaner, AND tastes like chicken!!!.. Blechh.:mad:… Gotta have the fat!

Chickens have been bred to the extent that they are now like cattle: they have diverged into 2 sub-species. Just like we have beef cattle & dairy cattle, we now have egg-laying chickens and meat chickens.

There are different breeds specializing in each. Those producing meat chickens breed for fast growth, which larger portions of the parts that people prefer to eat (like breasts & thighs). Meanwhile the egg-laying chickens have been bred to put all their energy into producing more eggs faster, and end up with worn-out, scrawny bodies with minimal meat on their bones.

Really, it’s both: consumers demand more meat, more eggs at lower prices; producers move to supply that demand at least cost. You could say it’s a chicken-and-egg question.

So which came first?

Coincidentally enough, today was when I started reading this manga…

Obviously, eggs.
Dinosaurs were laying eggs millions of years before chickens even existed.

If you say a dinosaur egg doesn’t count, only a chicken egg, then it comes down to what your definition of a chicken ‘egg’ is: is it an egg containing a chicken, or an egg laid by a chicken. Whichever definition you choose, then you have specified the answer.

As I recall, Cecil’s answer was that the chicken came first because the hen had to get laid before the egg could.

I should include a link to the column.

I was thinking about this yesterday when I was at the grocery store, and saw a few capons in the freezer. They were the size of small turkeys!

A while back, I read about a woman who had emigrated from Africa, and shortly after her arrival went to an American restaurant with some fellow new arrivals. She thought she was safe with baked chicken, but in the end, neither she nor her companions could eat it because not only were the pieces much larger than expected, they were also a texture with which they were unfamiliar. Home-grown and -processed chicken in her homeland was tough, stringy, and also very flavorful, whereas this was not. I sometimes see stewing hens for sale at ethnic markets in my area; they are incredibly scrawny, and I’ve never purchased one but they probably do taste very good.

(If you don’t know what a capon is, I’ll describe it the way my grandmother, who died in 1990, did: “It’s a rooster that’s been neutered. They grow really big.” I’ve never knowingly eaten it, but it’s a meat that I wouldn’t because it’s produced by torturing the animals; in the meantime, I found out that the rooster’s testicles are NOT located at the vent. They are located under the wings.)

Keep in mind as well that grocery stores are now allowed to inject massive amounts of saline solution into their chicken meat to “plump it up”, ostensibly to make it more visually appealing, but in addition because they can sell you salt water at $4 a pound (or whatever).