I remain convinced that growing industrial meat hybrids on a healthy diet (including a lot of living foods) is better in many ways than raising traditional dual purpose chickens on commercial manufactured feed (with its DL-methionine synthesised from non-food sources including propane). And yet I feel very mixed about my recent order of 25 commercial meat hybrids from a hatchery.
It's sad, isn't it? Even if you want to raise home grown meat using traditional purebreds, the chances are you're feeding them a form of amino acid that results in increased blood methionine in the bird, is associated with high liver triglycerides, fatty liver syndrome, and in humans elevated blood methionine is associated with dementia. (See my earlier post about artificial methionine.)
I could continue with the dual purpose birds, but it seems that most purebreds have entirely lost their meat characteristics. Unfortunately I've been unable to source Indian game with any reliability, and the light sussex I bought as eggs are proving problematic to raise, with a majority having an extremely slow feather gene that makes them unsuitable for my general needs. So again I've been pushed toward the meat hybrids, which have a few benefits above dual purpose or meat purebreds: they feather quickly; they can lay well; and they have very good feed conversion.
But I would want these genes to be very diluted indeed. I simply don't want meat birds that can't walk or have a good life right up to slaughter at 16 weeks.
I plan to grow the meat hybrids as slowly as possible, and when they reach the latest age at which they can still be useful for meat, I'll process some and keep the healthiest and hardiest as breeders.
Plenty of other people have done this, though I'm sure like me they have mixed feelings about the bloodlines... But when breeding backyard birds you pretty much have to work with what's available, no matter what you'd prefer.
In an ideal world, there would be Indian game that can still lay sufficiently to make them popular and well represented around the place... Alas, many have breeding problems.
The drawing board is looking pretty messy right now!