WATT Poultry USA - February 2018 - 39
SLOWER-GROWING BROILER SWITCH
rience lower mortality, less stress and better overall health
than a conventional broiler breed.
Responses to criticism of slower growing birds
Slower-growing chicken genetics promises to be a key
issue the U.S. chicken industry will deal with in the coming years. Urged by activists, some food companies and
retailers are signing onto to pledges to supply birds coming from slower-growing genetic stock. Research backed
by the National Chicken Council said the practice will
bring considerable financial and ecological drawbacks if
adopted on a national scale.
Sechler doesn't follow the same reasoning. He said he
doesn't want to supply a poor-quality item just because it's a
cheaper, faster-growing bird. Modern genetics bring problems
like woody breast. More weight on the shackle and better feed
conversion doesn't make up for those problems, he said.
Bell & Evans says a slower-growing bird tastes better,
The expanding market for slow-growing
too. He argues the customer didn't ask for a faster-growing bird - it was given to them by the industry - and they
are willing to pay more for a higher-quality product. He
doesn't need scientific proof the chicken tastes better; the
consumer's voice is proof enough.
"People don't pay twice as much for something the
second time if it isn't better than the product they compare it with," Sechler said.
Bell & Evans, a major supplier to Whole Foods Market,
is also working under the Global Animal Partnership (GAP)
standards. Sechler said the company is third-party audited
in accordance with the standards and is likely more involved
with the program than any other chicken company. ■
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B U I L D I N G O N
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