This summer I have spent my days at an internship with a poultry company near my college town. Working in the poultry industry is a whole other world than how media puts it out to be. So many lies, myths and rumors are going around about animal welfare and employee rights in this industry (and all AG related industries as well).
Recently I was talking to one of the Live Haul (department that takes the grown chickens to the processing plant) truck drivers. He asked the basic questions of where I was from, how old I am, and then he asked my major: Poultry Science, minoring in Agricultural Business and Management. He mentioned that since I seem to know a lot about chickens he asked me this question, "I've heard that KFC is cloning chickens. Is this true?" I was honest with him and told him the truth, personally I have never heard of that, but I will do my best to look into it and get back with you.
After reading many different articles and news reports they all had this same idea:
KFC chicken is said to be "genetically manipulated organism", which is so far removed from real chicken meat that they now call it KFC.
This all started with Snopes.com in 1991, and it states, "These so called 'chickens' are kept alive by tubes inserted into their bodies to pump blood and nutrients throughout their structure. They have no beaks, no feathers, and no feet. Their bone structure is dramatically shrunk to get more meat out of them. This is great for KFC because they do not have to pay so much for their production costs. There is no more plucking of the feathers or the removal of the beaks and feet. The government has told them to change all of their menus so they do not say chicken anywhere. If you look closely you will notice this."
From working in the poultry industry, this cracks me up.
If this rumor was even remotely true, KFC would have been out of business a long time ago.
Here is the truth:
Yes, there is a actual BREED of chicken that are hairless aka naked, they are called "Naked Chicken". Just like humans breed different types of dogs together to make new breeds, we also breed chickens together to make new breeds which each have a purpose. Naked Chicken was created so that during processing they do not have to spend the cost to remove the feathers. Broiler Chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) are breeds of chickens that are raised and breed to be meat producing chickens.
Broiler Chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) are breeds of chickens that are raised and breed to be meat producing chickens. Their breasts can weigh so heavy that if they flip over on their back they can not roll themselves over without help.
Once eggs are out of the hen, they go to the hatchery into an incubator (kind of like an "oven" but with high humidity to keep them just warm enough). After 21 days in the incubator, if fertile, they hatch.
On an average day in a large hatchery 493,200 eggs are hatched. All of the hatched and unhatched eggs go through the first part of the hatchery where people pick out the broken shells and eggs that did not hatch. The hatchery supervisor will choose a certain flock to save the eggs that did not hatch to open them and see what life stage they are at and why they did not hatch. I had the chance to work with the supervisor and she taught me all about it. There are fertile and infertile ones. Some are contaminated at an early stage (day 1-3) or at a late stage (day 18-21). You can tell if they are contaminated by the smell (it will never go away) and the color.
Now, this is where it gets interesting, and the truth behind KFC is revealed. Some of chickens that did not make it and we hatch open have 3-4 legs, 3 wings, exposed brain, and even twins.
Once the eggs are separated form the chicks they go into the the chick room, which is where they go on a conveyor belt where they are checked for culls. Culls are the chicks that we pull out that the separator might have missed, and deformed chicks such as multiple legs. These chicks are pulled out for two reasons: one, it is against government regulations to use these, two, they will not grow as strong and healthy as the other chicks. They will not be able to walk correctly and in turn get trampled on by other chickens, NOT because they had small space (those chicken houses are bigger than my house) but because of the old saying, "birds of a feather flock together". Birds are very sociable animals and want to be near each other all the time.
In saying, it is a MYTH that KFC grows "genetically manipulated organism" instead of chickens. Just because you read something on the internet does not mean it is true. Do your research first and use common sense.