Students from James Ruse Agricultural High School in Carlingford, NSW, Australia have conducted an experiment, proving that a commonly-held belief about Australian chickens growing bigger due to hormones is in fact false.
The growth of chickens bred to lay eggs was compared with the growth of chickens bred for meat. The Year 10 school students discovered that over a six-week period the meat chickens grew four times bigger than the egg chickens.
The researchers believe that this busts the misconception that the larger size and better growth rates of the chickens is due to the use of hormones.
In 2006, Australian Chicken Meat Federation (ACMF) released research revealing that nearly 80% of Australians believe that something, such as growth hormones, is added to Australian chickens to make them grow artificially larger.
“It’s not hormones, antibiotics or genetic modification making chickens larger but best practice in traditional breeding,” said Dr Andreas Dubs, executive director of ACMF.
“The truth is far less dramatic as was proven by this recent school project.”
The school sourced and hand-raised 15 egg-laying chickens and 15 meat chickens as day-old-chicks from a commercial supplier.
All chickens were fed the same standard chicken feed product, made mostly from cereal grains and protein sources, obtained from a local feed supplier.
After six weeks, the average weight of the chickens bred for egg laying was 592 g while the average weight of the chickens bred for meat was 2388 g.