We have a big appetite for chicken, which has directly led to bigger chickens. Modern chickens, known as Ross 308 broiler strain, are four times larger than their counterparts from 1957 and double the size of those from 1978 according to a study published in the journal Poultry Science. The supersized chickens aren’t the result of hormones, steroids or genetic manipulation but rather selective breeding. Chickens can lay up to 300 eggs a year and chicks become sexually mature as young as 18 weeks. This allows for natural genetic changes to quickly manifest.
“There’s a lot of criticism or ignorance about why chicken grow so fast,” study author Martin Zuidhof Zuidhof told CTV News. “If you look at a chicken from 50 years ago and today’s chicken, it’s natural to say, “Wow, what’s going on, that seems like something that’s pretty unnatural.’ The success of the selection parameters is much higher in poultry than it is in other livestock. That’s why we’re not seeing the same kind of gains in cattle and pigs.”
The industry has long since stopped selective breeding, which resulted in numerous health problems for the chickens such as metabolic disorders and heart attacks. These deleterious effects do not transfer to humans assures Zuidhof.
“There is no danger in eating larger chickens,” he told The Huffington Post. “That would be comparable to saying it is more dangerous to eat bigger carrots because they’re bigger.”
Of course a very real concern is the eventual rise of Ultra Mega Chicken…