By Eric Guel
A seasoned bird slaughtering veteran was over at our little homestead a few months ago, showing us how to slaughter ducks. After processing a few birds he started to talk about other breeds of poultry, zeroing in on the mutha’ of all meat birds—the Cornish Cross.
These lovable little fat guys are also known as broilers or Cornish-Rocks. From what I understand, they’re an American invention, intended solely to feed the masses in a proficient and highly profitable way. Before the Cornish Cross came on the scene several decades ago, meat birds took about 12 weeks on average to mature to slaughterable age; hence, good chicken meat was more of a rarity. But now, thanks to our chunky friend, meat birds can be ready to harvest in only 6 to 8 weeks!
Not sure if you’d like them? Chances are if you’ve eaten at KFC, or if you’ve had a chicken sandwich from McDonald’s, or simply bought a raw bird from the supermarket, it was some sort of Cornish Cross/Cornish-Rock variety. These birds are kind of like crack cocaine: one size fits all palates. So … if you don’t want to get addicted, then you better not pick up the rock in the first place. But chances are you’ve already savored juicy bird flesh multiple times, so there’s no turning back. You’re a carnivore. Heck, it’s better than being addicted to narcotics.
So back to my aforementioned slaughter-veteran friend. He had some interesting things to say about our tasty buddies. In fact, our conversation was almost theological. He began:
“I’m not sure that animals have souls, but I’ll say those Cornish Cross birds definitely don’t have souls. No way.”
“Oh really?” I replied … suddenly feeling a wee bit hungry.
“Yes! You can just look into their eyes, and it looks like they’re not even alive. There’s no depth; there’s nothing to them.”
“I suppose so,” I mumbled … or was that my stomach growling?
“I don’t want to have anything to do with those chickens again,” he summarily pontificated.
“Uh huh,” I said. In reality, I wasn’t paying attention anymore. I was thinking about fried chicken.
Now the point of relaying that conversation to you faithful readers was simply to bore you to segue into some of the downsides of our obese feathered buddies. This isn’t an exhaustive list; it’s really just off the top of my head:
- They don’t have souls (I’ve been told).
- They can get so fat so quickly that their legs break.
- They’re not good at foraging for food, so you pretty much have to give them feed.
- They won’t reproduce this side of being incubated in a laboratory filled with nerds in white coats. So unless you own a white coat, a laboratory, and you’re a nerd, you’ll have to order them from a hatchery every time you want to raise them.
- Unlike parrots, they can’t learn to talk.
Truth be told, they’re not hard to raise. But if you’re going for sustainability, you’ll do better to look elsewhere. They sure are tasty, though.