Lost appetite for 'instant chickens'

Updated: 2013-01-07 07:37

By He Na, Yang Wanli and Shi Baoyin (China Daily)

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Inside track from a former farmer

First person | Zhao Zhili

Zhao Zhili, 48, is president of a small English training school.

Unlike most people who have suddenly become uneasy after hearing about "instant chicken", I feel quite unperturbed because I spent more than 10 years raising chickens.

My husband thinks that 40-something days from chick to ready-to-eat is beyond belief, but the growth cycle for chickens was around 60 days when I ran a farm in the 1990s.

My major in my university days was animal-epidemic testing, and I was assigned to work as a technician at the largest chicken farm in Jilin, Jilin province, when I graduated in 1988.

A few years later, when State-owned enterprises were being reformed, I became the director of a new, private chicken farm.

The "fast-growing" breed was introduced from the United States and following their feeding instructions we produced three different kinds of feed, according to the chickens' nutritional and growth requirements - for the first 10 days, the feed provided straight nutrition, then for the next 10 days, it was designed to promote bone growth. After that it was all about increasing the amount of muscle.

The standards are strict in terms of sanitation, environment and chicken density. However, a shortage of capital and the need to lower costs mean it's hard to meet the requirements.

Without enough space to move, the chickens are vulnerable to sickness, so the necessary drugs are used to treat the birds.

Because I studied animal epidemics, I paid great attention to sanitation. Luckily, I didn't encounter any epidemics.

We ate chickens raised on our farm ourselves, and when the holidays arrived, the chickens were also given to the staff.

My opinion on "instant chicken" is this: As long as the antibiotics used are within the national standards, safety can be guaranteed and people have no need to be panic.

Zhao Zhili talked to He Na.

Contact the reporter at hena@chinadaily.com.cn and yangwanli@chinadaily.com.cn


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