Slow-Growing Broilers

Apr 19, 2017



CHICK-CITE has previously reported on the “slow-growing broiler” movement, advanced by welfare groups essentially opposed all forms of intensive livestock production. 

The anthropomorphic principle of flocks “suffering” is offered as a condemnation of the efficiency and sustainability associated with modern production practices.

The National Chicken Council is justifiably concerned over unsubstantiated allegations raised against the industry implicating “abuse” in producing broilers weighing in excess of 7 pounds live weight.


Although logic and reality can be applied to defend the industry, this has little impact on the preconceived notions of a subset of consumers, influenced by distorted misinformation disseminated on the internet.

Concurrent with an increase in body weight of broilers there has been an improvement in livability, feed conversion efficiency and welfare as determined quantitatively by gait-score and other parameters. Essentially if broiler flocks are being abused and are suffering, performance across the subset of heavy broilers amounting to over 100 million each week would not be achieved.

Primary breeders have to expend considerable resources applying index selection to optimize bird growth and skeletal integrity.  Families with desired traits can be identified by a combination of phenotypic selection on a mass basis with DNA assay (single nucleotide polymorphism).

A major breakthrough in improving the integrity of legs occurred in the 1990’s when a major breeding company introduced the lixiscope to screen breeding flocks for the presence of tibial dyschondroplasia. The undesirable trait was eliminated from elite-level strains and consequently from commercial broilers.  Skeletal strength has been further advanced through sophisticated genetic selection and nutrition, contributing to improved livability and carcass quality.

The National Chicken Council is actively promoting the realities of broiler production and has established a consumer-oriented website www.chickencheck.in to provide responsible and accurate information on how U.S. broilers are reared and processed to achieve optimal quality, food safety and welfare.

Copyright 2017 Simon M. Shane