At the beginning they appeared as lovely yellow balls of fluff with voracious appetites. It soon became apparent as they rapidly grew that these were not normal chickens. Their breasts became immense, as did their backsides. They fluttered their tiny wings as they waddled to greet me each day. As they increased in size their mobility declined. To get them to move I put their water outside and scattered their feeding stations around the yard.
Commercially these chooks are butchered at 35 days. My chickens are now geriatrics and they look it. They sit frequently as they strain under the weight of their great bulk. They wheeze and seem to have such poor circulation that, for some, their combs are purple. When it rained a little last week two succumbed to pneumonia.
I see now why meat chickens are shedded. The fact that they are alive at all is a necessary but unfortunate inconvenience so they are not bred for living. My chooks can go outside into the green grass and even eat the odd worm. They can feel the sunshine on their faces. They have nice roosts but unfortunately can't use them. They can't get to them and even if they were capable apparently they could develop blisters on their breasts.
These are the chickens you get from your supermarket. We thought that we could raise these victims of selective breeding pampered but free ranging. We will never do this again no matter how nice they taste.