What’s the difference between a broiler and a fryer? Actually, none, says the Chicken Council of America. Both are “meat chickens,” as compared to layers (the ones that produce eggs).
Today’s broilers are bred for their meat, according to Dan Nuckolls, president of the Tennessee Egg and Poultry Association. They may look like fluffy white chickens, but they’re actually engineered for specific food industry needs. Some are bred for fast-food requirements; the winter trend demands birds with more breast meat.
And Tennessee is a big state for broilers, ranking 13th in the nation in broiler production for 2003. Other fowl facts:
• 182.3 million broilers produced in 2003 (2004 Tennessee Department of Agriculture figures not yet available).
• Cash receipts totaling $322 million in Tennessee, up 20% from 2002.
• Broiler production is subsidized by large poultry companies like Koch Foods, Tyson and Pilgrim’s Pride. Day-old chicks, feed and technical advice are all supplied to private farmers; chickens are picked up at 38-55 days for processing.
• Chicken has become America’s favorite meat, with top 90 pounds consumed per person per year.