APR 03, 2016 7:04 AM PDT

The Problem With Growing Bigger Chickens

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Every body loves chicken - it's a universally tasty meat that's used in many dishes throughout the world. With the increased demand for this popular meat choice, farmers have been raising chickens that are not only bigger but take much shorter time to get to market size. Broiler chickens - those raised strictly for meat - have roughly doubled in size in the past 50 years. And now it only takes half the time for the chickens to mature to such size. But while these tricks have the supply meet demands, the chicken meat quality seems to have suffered in the process.

An increasing number of chicken breast meat has been found to be laced with hard fibers - a condition termed "woody breasts" in the industry. Though these muscle disorders in the meat don't carry health risks, the texture and quality are noticeably degraded. Experts describe this type of meat as harder and more elastic, which requires extra chewing to mash through. Though experts don't know the exact causes behind formation of woody breasts, they suspect it must have to do with growing heavier birds in such a short amount of time.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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