If you are used to buying your chicken from the supermarket, you might not realize this, but there is one breed of meat chicken that dominates the modern, globalized meat market.
You know it well, and yet probably don’t even know the name. You buy your whole fryers, your boneless skinless chicken breast, your thigh meat, your wings, your drumsticks, your whole legs. It might come from different brands, priced differently, sometimes on sale, sometimes more expensive for higher quality. But it is almost always the same chicken breed: the Cornish Cross.
The Cornish Cross has not always been the prominent meat chicken breed in the United States, but these days, it makes up the great majority of meat chicken you will buy at the supermarket. And this is not because it is particularly nutritious or has the best tasting meat. It’s mostly because it grows quickly and is easy to raise in captivity. An unfortunate downside to how quickly the Cornish Cross evolves is that its immune system cannot keep up with its body, which increases the needs for harmful antibiotics.
This is so true of so many breeds of meat animals as well as vegetables. They are bred and raised not to offer the best flavor and nutrition, but to be suitable to the unsustainable model of the large-scale factory farm. While we are very lucky these days to have more and more options on the market as far as quality and responsible management of factory farms, nothing beats raising your own meat chickens.
When you raise your own chickens, you get to control what breeds you purchase and raise, what they’re fed, and what their day-to-day lifestyle is. You can experience the beauty and flavor available beyond the ubiquitous Cornish Cross! This is because when you are the chicken farmer, you don’t need to raise chickens for the sole purpose of selling them, but rather for your own pleasure and sustenance.
If you’ve ever thought about raising your own chickens, this spring would be a great time to get started! You could be slaughtering your own by fall.
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