An article written in Spanish by Puerto Rican journalist Ronald Ávila-Claudio from BBC News Mundo on how the broiler industry started to develop, as well as the Chicken of Tomorrow contest in the U.S., caught my attention. It did, not only because it was about poultry, but because of the catchy headline (“How the chicken you eat grew 400% in size in 50 years”) among other things.
I liked this story, because science, entrepreneurship and willingness to solve a problem are the basis of the development of the chicken we eat today and of the poultry industry. The journalist was quite neutral in his appreciation. Even though he did not praise the efforts made and mentioned a free-range producer of today along with a couple of ethical issues, he clearly explains with positive facts how the industry developed.
The Chicken of Tomorrow contest in 1948 was the trigger. The first three-year chicken of tomorrow program and contest was promoted to solve the problem of producing more meat at a reasonable price in the U.S. at the end of World War II. Check “The Chicken of Tomorrow Documentary” film (in English) cited in the article.
I was really surprised to see that. Even though the poultry industry in the late 40’s was not how we know it now, all the bases were there. The mere mention of equipment, such as setters and hatchers in hatcheries, where fumigation was carried out and how temperature and moisture measurements were taken, is proof. Also present were waterers in farms, experimental stations, statistical analysis, feeds and so on.
Interesting to see how the Chicken of Tomorrow Committee evaluated broilers in terms of meat characteristics, feed conversion rates, mortality or the impact of Newcastle disease, bronchitis and coccidiosis on production.
So, my point is that we need this type of communication with the general public – easy, simple, with facts and showing problem-solving efforts. The documentary was done 74 years ago, but the article by this Puerto Rican colleague was recently published. Couldn’t we just follow these clear examples to show the general public what we do? It is the responsibility of all stakeholders in the industry. Keeping quiet is no good.
What do you think?