Friday, April 03, 2009

Single Trait Selection

Today I am going to touch on the agricultural abomination known as “single trait selection.” STS has been used in the breeding of most animals for hundreds of years. If you have a specialty dog it was more than likely a product of STS. It was bread to have those long ears or that powerful upper body or the webbed feet. The breeders found a trait in one animal that seemed beneficial and bread more animals that had that trait. Sooner or later it becomes a focal point of an entire breed.

It’s OK to do it to dogs, but what about chickens? There is a breed of chickens that have been created called the Cornish Cross. Last year I got some because I heard they were good meat chickens as opposed to being good layers. What I quickly found out was that they were Franken-Birds. As soon as they got their feathers they were so enormous that they could barely walk. They would sit or lay down in or around their food source and never move and never stop eating. In weeks they became larger than any chicken I had ever seen. I let them live even longer, close to four months before I slaughtered them. They were the size of turkeys, probably 20 pounds each.

These chickens were bread for meat. They are too fat to breed to one another, all fertilization is done artificially. Another thing is that within six months this breed usually dies of a heart attack. An observer can see it coming because their red combs and wattles turn blue a couple of days before they die. When they die it is called "Flip-Over Disease."

As I said I slaughtered mine and it was problematic since they were too large to fit in the killing cone. They met their fate on a stump with a hatchet. However, even while I was eating them I couldn’t get over the fact that I was eating some weird mutant of single trait selection.

I was offered some Cornish Crosses this year and I quickly turned down the offer. It was painful to look at them constantly wallowing in their food. Yes, they are quick meat producer and can be slaughtered before most other chicks get fully in feather, but there is just something wrong with it. It’s just wrong…that’s all.


Blogger loopymamain06 said...

I can only imagine, the feeling of "I did this to these birds" everytime you look at them.
yup....just feels wrong.
da loop

6:58 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

I imagine you could sell those to the japanese. Sounds like the same way they raise their beef. Yuck.

8:43 AM  
Blogger dalia said...

it's all very "aryan nation," no? reading that gave me the creeps. especially the part about being so heavy they can't move and just eat 'til they die. also reminded me of the movie "se7en" and the opening gluttony scene.

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Ginger said...

On one hand, it would be very difficult to watch as they deteriorate...on the other hand...I like chicken...mostly BBQ'd. I'm watching mine run around the yard..they hide their eggs around the barn and the house. I find them in the most peculiar places. If I don't find them, the dogs do and then the house reeks at night of rotten egg farts. Life on a farm :)

2:31 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Found you over at Mosie's blog. I too was a switchboard operator when I was a teenager but didn't get any free meals. Like your blog.

9:24 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Loopy, you mean feed them or slaughter them?

Darev, I'm sure they already have
Sumo chickens over there.

Dalia, a master chicken race.

Ginger, these chickens were unable to stand, run or lay eggs. They were disgusting.

Paula, Welcome to Rust. It's kind of sad that swithcboards ane now just phones with the ability to transfer calls.

6:17 AM  
Blogger loopymamain06 said...

guy...the whole process, of raising fowl that cannot stand/run/lay eggs, on purpose....visiting the feed everyday to see the gluttony manifest, knowing what is coming (a good meal) I guess the answer would be feed them.....It would give me the same feeling as accidently running over a dog, guilt.
da loop

6:42 AM  
Blogger Gayla said...

Funny that I've never heard of these chickens. Very, very sad and disgusting. I'm proud that you declined another chance to own one. If I'd sat down to eat one of these, I'm pretty sure that I would be feeling the exact same thing you did! Ugh.
Like your blog :)

9:00 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Loopy, yep, I'd rather have hens that can run away from you.

Gayla, thanks, Donna sends so many people my way. She is an internet machine.

Funny thing, I was at the feed store today and they had some cross chickens there and they are already twice the size of the other chicks. Totally gross.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Bpaul said...

I feel the same way about Cornish Cross. Frankenbird sums it up exactly. I actually know of Naturopaths that tell folks not to eat chicken because they just don't trust the messed-up genetics of C. Crosses (which are nearly 100% of meat birds you get any more).

I'll take a mongrel skinny, fast, and mean bird from my friend's "mountain flock" any day.


12:42 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

That reminds me that I need to thaw my last rooster from last year for dinner this week.

6:29 AM  

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