In a previous post we talked about the reason why we like the slow-growing Freedom Ranger (TM) over the predominant broiler chicken in production, the Cornish cross. One of those reasons was it does not have the same health issues so let’s cover one of them in more detail that the slow growing Freedom Ranger (TM) does not have.
Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it? I guess if we were all beavers we might enjoy it. Woody Breast is a fairly new issue that has only really been around for a little over a decade now. Even with all of the large commercial poultry players spending large amounts of money to find a solution. As much as 50 percent of a commercial flock can be affected by it. You can see and taste the difference of the meat that has woody breast compared to an unaffected piece. When looking at a raw chicken breast filet it will be yellowish. But it is also affected in ways that are not detectable by the eye–such as lower protein levels in the meat.
If a breast filet is affected by Woody Breast it still can be eaten. (Yuck, right?) It will be tough with a coarse texture that is unappealing to consumers so it is hidden in ground chicken such as chicken nuggets or other processed chicken products. Fewer people are noticing Woody Breast at the grocery store but that is most likely due to the industry getting better at identifying, and redirecting it into processed chicken product where the texture is not so noticeable, not due the decline of it in the commercial industry’s flocks.
So where has Woody Breast come from? It is a genetic trait in chicken that has only become an issue since the poultry industry has selectively bred for larger and larger chicken breasts over time thus breeding a chicken that is more susceptible to Woody Breast. The breast meat on a Cornish cross weighs more then an entire chicken did a couple of decades ago! All indications are that it is from the chicken putting on weight so fast that the rest of the chickens organs and functions are unable to keep up and maintain the chicken in a healthy natural state.
With the slower growing nature of the Freedom Ranger (TM) you do not have this issue as it grows at a rate that its organs can support it weight gain.