As woody breast syndrome is a common concern among those in the broiler industry, Joe F. Sanderson, Jr., CEO of Sanderson Farms, says his company is working diligently to prevent the problem in its chickens.

Breast fillets with the woody breast condition exhibit abnormal hardness and rigidity upon palpation and sometimes a ridge-like bulge on the tail end of the fillet. Speaking during the BMO Capital Markets 12th Annual Farm to Market Conference, Sanderson discussed what the third largest broiler company in the United States is doing to address the problem, which has been more prevalent in larger chickens.

“For us, we will not and cannot tolerate this condition for our customers,” said Sanderon. “We’re going to do whatever we have to do.”

Sanderson mentioned three adjustments the company has made to prevent woody breast. Those adjustments are:

  1. Lowering live weights by a half a pound in its big bird deboning plants
  2. Amending the diets for the broilers
  3. Changing its lighting program

Sanderson said he believes the broiler industry as a whole is doing similar things to address the problem.

The woody breast problem in the broiler sector will take about 5 or 6 years to correct by the primary breeders, Sanderson believes.

“Genetically, it will take that long to be corrected,” he said. “I do think it’s a structural change, and it will take a long time to correct it.”