Facts About Chicken

Facts About Chicken

Chicken - Something to crow about

Here's a few tasty morsels about the humble Aussie chicken:

  • All chicken sold in Australia is grown in Australia. Importing raw chicken meat is banned.
  • Of all the chickens grown here only 2% is exported.
  • Chicken consumption has increased sixfold from 1965 to today. Approximately 33 per cent of all Australians eating chicken do so at least three times a week*, with chicken now rivalling beef in the Australian diet.
  • Nutritionally chicken is a low fat and a significant source of daily requirements of protein, niacin, B6, B12, vitamin D, iron and zinc.
  • The Australian chicken meat industry employs 40,000 people throughout Australia.
  • ABARE forecasts that the poultry meat industry’s gross value of production will be $1.408 billion in 2005-06**. The ACMF estimates the chicken industry’s retail value at $2.5 billion.
* Source, Colmar Brunton, February 2006, n = 1800 chicken consumers.
** Source: ABARE Australian Commodities, Vol 13 No 1, march Quarter 2006

Busting the myths

Myth: Chickens are fed hormones

Hormones (or steroids) was banned more than 40 years ago – and this ban is strictly enforced in Australia and around the world. Advertising that claims ‘no added hormones’ is not differentiating its product, it's stating an industry-wide regulation.

Myth: Meat chickens are raised in cages

Meat chickens are not caged. They are raised in large sheds and are free to move about the floor. Often sheds, for free-range chickens, have an outdoor space as well.

Myth: Meat chickens are fed something unnatural to make them grow faster

Most of the change in how birds grow is thanks to specialist breeders overseas, who have selectively bred birds to grow more quickly and efficiently. Intensive research into chicken’s precise nutritional requirements, better animal husbandry and housing and improvements in healthcare have also contributed to improving bird growth and to reducing the time it takes to get chickens to market size.

Myth: Chicken meat comes from egg chickens when they have stopped laying.

Comparing chickens bred for meat with those for eggs is like comparing dairy cows and beef cows. Chicken meat comes from specially bred meat chickens.

CHICKEN - Let's Talk Turkey

Is chicken genetically modified

1) Chickens are not genetically modified. All chickens in Australia are produced using traditional selective breeding. There are no genetically modified (GM) chickens in Australia, consumers are not eating GM food when eating chicken meat.

2) In addition, Australia’s three largest chicken meat processors, representing over 80% of chicken meat production, have committed to using their best endeavours to source non-GM ingredients for their feed. Feed ingredients must meet quality standards, be available in substantial quantities and be economically sustainable.

Are Hormones given to chickens?

Hormones are not administered to chickens
By regulation, no hormones (or steroids) are administered to meat chickens under any circumstance. There is no basis for any food safety concern regarding added hormones in chicken meat.

Contrary to urban legend, administering hormones to chickens in Australia has been illegal for over 40 years. The government’s National Residue Survey regularly confirms that hormones are not used by testing meat on a regular basis.

Chicken Welfare

Meticulous care for chickens’ welfare and strong economic performance go hand in hand. Ensuring chickens are well fed, healthy and comfortable is in the best interests of both birds and growers.

In caring for chickens appropriately, the industry:

  • Maintains respect for the birds, by ensuring they do not suffer
  • Recognises and respects community expectations regarding the humane treatment of livestock farmed specifically for consumption.
  • Commercial meat chickens are raised in large, clean, temperature regulated sheds. Free range chickens have access to barn yards as well as their shed. Meat chickens are never raised in cages.
  • Concern for bird welfare is backed by government and industry standards which ensure birds are kept comfortable and treated humanely.
  • Chickens receive prompt and appropriate attention to prevent and treat disease. Sick or injured birds that cannot be adequately or successfully treated are culled quickly and humanely so that they do not suffer any unnecessary pain, distress, fear or physical injury.


Antibiotics and bacteria

Chicken meat produced in Australia is healthy and nutritious, and eating it does not expose consumers to either antibiotic residue, or bacteria resistant to antibiotics used in human medicine.

Importantly, it should also be noted that any bacteria that may be on raw meat, will be rendered harmless through the normal cooking process.

Avian Influenza (bird flue)

There is no avian influenza in Australian chickens. Australia does not import chickens. Quarantine restrictions are in place on importing birds and there is a complete ban on importing raw chicken meat.

You can’t catch it from your food. Properly cooked chicken meat cannot transmit avian influenza. In addition, any infected flock would be destroyed – diseased flocks would not be processed for consumption by people or animals.

You are also unlikely to catch it from live chickens in Australia. While some strains of avian influenza found overseas have infected people, this is rare and requires very close physical interaction with infected birds. Importantly the nature of our animal husbandry practices Australia make this kind of contact extremely unlikely.


Want to know more?

Call The Chicken Meat Federation’s Consumer Information Line
Chook Infoline – 1300 4CHOOK