Is it time to stop being chicken and try laying hen?

Is it time to stop being chicken and try laying hen?

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If you caught Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast on Channel 4 a few weeks ago you’ll have heard their idea about high street chicken shops selling meat from ex-laying hens.

But do you know the difference between the chickens we eat and those that lay eggs?

Put simply, chickens farmed for meat – or broiler chickens as they are known in the farming industry – have been bred over many years to produce as much meat as possible in as short a time as possible.

Laying hens, on the other hand, are bred specifically to lay eggs and tend to be much leaner.

However, the excessive rate at which most broiler chickens now grow comes at great cost to their activeness and health.

The weight they put on at such a young age

Spicy Chicken Wings.jpg

puts a significant strain on their immature and developing skeletons and organs.  

That’s why RSPCA Assured requires farmers to use specific higher welfare breeds, which are slower growing.

Currently, there is little market in the UK for end of lay hens with the bulk of them being frozen and shipped abroad or they’re used in pet food.  

In some parts of Asia, they don’t differentiate between meat and egg laying chickens. Instead, they use the same bird for both 

eggs and meat – a far less wasteful approach than we have adopted in the west.

But with trials in Germany to develop breeds that could serve this ‘dual-purpose’, perhaps it won’t be long before the UK follows their lead.

If you saw Friday Night Feast you’ll have seen Jamie and Jimmy’s taste test with a bunch of customers in a chicken shop.

Not only did the diners prefer the flavour of the free-range laying hen, they also resoundingly agreed they’d be happy to pay a bit more for it!

Would you be willing to give meat from laying hens a try?

Date: 07 Mar 2017