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Aug 20, 2008 05:35 AM

chick to chicken in 4 days! could this be true?

a friend of a friend who worked in a poultry processing facility said that the chick hatchlings are growing to slaughter size in four days. is this possibly true? if so, that is frightening in what it implicates re chicken food/hormones, etc.

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  1. The chickens you buy in the grocery store as broilers took 6-8 weeks to get to that size. I don't think there is any way possible to accelerate that process to a mere four days and still have something that looks like a chicken when you are done.

    1 Reply
    1. re: LabRat

      thank goodness, lab rat. that was so scary to think of the franken-chicken!

    2. OMG! how weird - I was just told the same thing today and posted to CH....

      1. seems to be an urban legend gone out of control....

        from the USDA website:

        Hormones & Antibiotics
        No hormones are used in the raising of chickens.

        1 Reply
        1. re: chicaraleigh

          Sound like the urban legend of the mutant KFC headless chicken breed.

        2. 4 Days? I don't know about that... but your typical fryer is raised in about 4 weeks (which by normal, free range, on a farm somewhere out in boonies standards is scary enough).

          6 Replies
          1. re: Eat_Nopal

            eat nopal, i think you may have solved this mystery. the friend of a friend does not speak english, if i'm guessing right -- but she did work at one of those places (for real). maybe there was a communication breakdown when she spoke to my friend, and somehow it was no longer four weeks, but four days!

            now, i'm gonna follow up with my friend to see if her friend is instead repeating an urban legend. oh, the things i do concerning food! ;-)

            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              At four weeks they could be sold as a rock cornish game hens, a fryer/broiler is 6-13 weeks and a roaster is older than 13 weeks.

              1. re: LabRat

                ah! i love those rock cornish game hens -- just the right size for mr. alka and me.

                1. re: LabRat

                  No... I have some relatives that worked at a Poultry Farm in CA that raised chickens... and were pumping out Fryers in 4 weeks... which is absolutely INSANE if you have ever spent time on a farm and know the "normal" cycles.

                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                    I was going by the USDA standards of identity for raw poultry, but several years ago they changed the wording to be more ambiguous in regards to ages. The changes were probably very popular with poultry producers, but I can’t imagine that four week old fryers would have much flavor or the proper texture.

                    1. re: LabRat

                      Does any of our mass produced chicken have much flavor or the proper texture =)

              2. Four days! That would be absurd.

                BUT...we raised broilers for the first time this year, and we were shocked at how quickly and disfunctionally (?) they seemed to grow. We selected a cross variety (between an "heirloom" breed and a "commercial" breed) that is supposed to be a decent feed-to-meat ratio. Well, by 5 weeks of age, the poor things could barely stand! We're sending them out to the processor 4 weeks earlier than expected because they are just so strange and unnatural looking, wobbling around and virtually unable to raise their heads. Such a disturbing change from our laying hens and the "heirloom" chickens our neighbors raise for meat...anyway, after this experience, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the commercial breeds were coming up ready in 4-6 weeks...

                7 Replies
                1. re: RosemaryHoney

                  Well, by 5 weeks of age, the poor things could barely stand! We're sending them out to the processor 4 weeks earlier than expected because they are just so strange and unnatural looking, wobbling around and virtually unable to raise their heads.
                  OK - this is just disturbing. I had to Google to see what "normal" 5wo chicks/chickens looked like - are they like this?

         (this pic is entitled "Here's Abbie herding the 5-week-old broiler chickens"

                  And here's another pic that says they're 8 weeks old:

                  These seem like normal chicks/chickens....are/were yours a lot different?

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    Here's a picture of our 17 day old Dark Cornish chick, a dual purpose, heritage variety, and a white broiler chick of the same age.


                    Raised on pasture, the broilers are butchered at 8-10 weeks and weigh about 6 pounds after cleaning. The heritage variety males will be butchered at 16 weeks and weigh about 4 pounds. The flavour and texture of the dark cornish is like the chickens of the old days, not tough but not mushy like store bought chicken. The broilers are much more tender compared to the Dark Cornish, but because they are raised on pasture, they have more flavour, texture and colour than store bought.

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      linda, that second link is "forbidden" ---

                      1. re: alkapal

                        Yeah, I saw that as well. you can see the pics here:


                        The top picture - mouse over for a larger pic.

                        I'm still flabbergasted that 5 week old chicks are too top-heavy to be able to walk or hold up their head. Talk about FrankenChickens!

                    2. re: RosemaryHoney

                      rosemary, what did the people say who sold you this crossbreed? was this typical growth in their experience?

                      1. re: alkapal

                        Yep, those broilers look just like ours. This is the typical growth pattern. We were just expecting something more...well, natural, I guess. Although I now realize that our concept of natural - garnered from my childhood memories of my grandparents' broilers - is something quite different from the crossbred broilers of today. The "FrankenChickens" (LindaWhit - that's the same name we gave them!!) generally sit around eating, occasionally standing, wobbling for a step or two, and plopping back down to eat more. It's bizarre - especially because they have such thick, strong-looking legs. We're planning to butcher at 8 weeks and get 6-8 pound chickens once cleaned, just as earthgoat noted. But next season, we'll be getting Dark Cornish or some other variety.

                        1. re: RosemaryHoney

                          but linda whit's chickens look fine to me. what is the problem that i'm missing in the photos?