Broilers are chickens bred and raised specifically for their meat produce. Selective breeding has meant that only a few strains dominate the modern market and they are named after the companies that genetically developed them. These strains are mostly Cornish and White Rock cross genetics that emphasise rapid growth, broad breast, limited feathering and efficient feed conversion. There are only two breeds of chicken used as broilers.
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The Cornish breed originates from Cornwall, England, and also is known as Indian Game. This breed is valued for its meat; a Cornish hen can reach 3.63kg. and roosters can reach 4.54kg. Their egg yield is low, only laying 80 to100 eggs per year.
Cornish Cross, or Cornish X, chickens are the standard grill meat in the American market. It is a hybrid of breed lines kept secret by the producing companies and gains weight rapidly. A Cornish Cross chicken has very little feathering when it reaches slaughtering age and is fed on a ration of high protein feed. Hybrid meat birds were first introduced in 1930 and dominated the market by 1960. The genetics of each developer's strain is protected by intricate breeding selection. Four chickens are chosen from four different strains, two of which provide the female parent line and two of which provide the male parent line. These two offspring are subsequently mated to produce the broiler.
Broiler Breeding Companies
Aviagen, Cobb-Vantress, Hubbard Farms, Peterson Farms Inc. and Shaver Poultry are the primary broiler breeding companies in the United States. They are multinational enterprises that dominate the world market, and each has its own individual strain of broiler.
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