Broiler chicken, the sad story of an animal resulting from genetic selection

Few people know the pollo broiler and its history. Yet it is the one that in the vast majority of cases is bought in the delicatessen department of the supermarket when you have little desire to cook for dinner. Behind this White meat succulent, however, hides a total lack of respect for the welfare of the animal. This breed has indeed been genetically selected over the last century to meet the great demand of consumers and its breeding involves terrible suffering for these domestic birds.

What is broiler chicken

Broiler is the technical name given to chicks A domestic rooster. In other words, we are talking about white specimens, with a red crest and yellow skin, bred only for the intensive meat production and which we commonly call chickens. These animals are characterized by a very large chest and swollen thighs, characteristics that develop very quickly after birth. Only 40-60 days pass between hatching and slaughter.

The history of the broiler and its genetic selection

These characteristics do not come from mother nature, but from the history of the broiler chicken. The animal is the result of genetic selection work that began in the 1930s. The reason? The expansion of demand for chicken meat by consumers in those years of growing economic prosperity. Faced with the difficulty in satisfying the great demand, the breeders thus began a work of miscegenation to obtain a chicken that grew quickly and that in a short time developed an important musculature. In other words, high-performing animals.

The development of this commercial hybrid took place in the 1960s and allowed the broiler chicken to increase its growth rate by a frightening 400 percent. Today, according to Animal Equity Italia, 90 percent of the chickens raised in the world are of this breedfor a total figure of over 40 billion, of which seven in Europe alone and half a billion in our country.

The sufferings of the broiler chicken

The acceleration imparted to the development of these chickens has had serious consequences on their well-being. After the hatching of the eggs, generated by the artificial insemination of the reproducers, in the appropriate ones industrial hatcheriesthe chicks (both male and female) are brought in closed sheds intended for intensive farming. And although it takes place on land, in structures between 20,000 and 30,000 chickens are concentrated per production cycle, leaving little space for each specimen.

To encourage the rapid growth of chickens, the sheds are equipped with automated systems which provide water and highly energetic food, of ventilators which keep the temperature constant forced lighting so that altering the normal light/dark cycle also contributes to their extraordinary development.

The result is that animals get to have a chest so big that it can’t stand on its own paws. This excessive load causes fractures or even the phenomenon called splay leg, i.e. the fall to the ground with the legs spread. And from this position most often they never get up again. But the sad story of broiler chicken doesn’t end there. Added to all this is a hygiene problem, as the floor of the farms is never cleaned during a production cycle. The animals stay that way for a long time slumped in their excrementwhich can lead to the development of ulcers on paws, plucking and to the increased occurrence of diseases.

The appeals of the animal welfare associations

The result of this genetic selection and this type of breeding are “giant chicks“, of puppies in overgrown adult bodies. Suffice it to say that while a “normal” chicken would weigh around 1.2 kg at around four months of age, broilers instead weigh almost 3 kg in about 50 days of life.

For this reason, animal welfare associations invite the Italian institutions to intervene. The Lav – Anti Vivisection League claims that “much more stringent rules are necessary to ensure greater welfare for these animals”. Animalequity Italia, on the other hand, has launched a petition addressed to the Italian government to ask “the banning of thesecommercial hybrids”.

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