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Virtually all commercially available chickens and turkeys are the product of hybrid genetics. This means that they are produced by mating together at least two distinct lines of birds, each of which is bred to carry specific genetic traits. For example, the male “parent stock” may carry a gene for fast growth and the female parent stock may carry a gene that promotes obesity. Bred together they will produce birds that both grow very fast and get very fat—these fast-growing, obese birds are the ones people actually eat. Farmers cannot breed hybrid birds together and produce more hybrid birds. They are “dead end” birds from a reproductive point of view. This forces farmers to go back, every season, and buy more birds from the large factory farm corporations that own the special genetics of the parent stock used to produce hybrid birds. Hybrid genetics inherently promotes poor welfare for the parent birds because they are being bred with a narrow focus on a single genetic trait instead for overall health.
Knowles TG, Kestin SC, Haslam SM, Brown SN, Green LE, et al., “Leg Disorders in Broiler Chickens: Prevalence, Risk Factors and Prevention,” PLoS ONE 3(2): e1545. (2008).
“Definition of Heritage Chicken” of The Livestock Conservancy: https://livestockconservancy.org/heritage-chicken-definition/
Yiqun Wang et al., “Modern Organic and Broiler Chickens Sold for Human Consumption Provide More Energy from Fat Than Protein,” Public Health Nutrition 13, no. 3 (2009).