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Productivity and quality of meat-type chicken

INRA Prod. Anim., 17(4), 265-273.


1 INRA, Station de Recherches Avicoles, F-37380 Nouzilly

2 INRA, Le Magneraud, BP 52, F-17700 Surgères
3 ITAVI, Service Economie, 4 rue de la Bienfaisance, F-75008 Paris


Productivity of meat-type chicken dramatically improved, thanks to concomitant progress of the rearing methods, nutrition, genetics and veterinary medecine. The whole resulted in a strong reduction of slaughter age. As the latter is the main factor of sensory meat quality, it was the principal criterion of the qualitative segmentation of chicken production. Begun in the sixties, it resulted in differentiation between standard chickens, chickens with so-called ’appellation d’origine contrôlée’, ’Label’ chickens and certified chickens.

More recently a second axis, related to the level of elaboration of products (whole carcass, jointed products or transformed products) has been developed. The productivity of the standard products is high but not so much higher than that of certified chicken. The difference could be compensated by the guarantees of traceability and production brought by certification. In term of quality also, part of the differences are vanishing, because the consumer’s choices evolve and the difference in taste is especially marked for the thighs that are economically less important. However, the differences in transformation rate are in favour of faster-growing chickens. While the animals can express their natural behavior more when reared outside, they run an increased risk of microbial contaminations. With reference to all these results, it seems difficult to predict how the chicken production will evolve. But it appears clearly that the certified chicken, intermediary between standard chicken and Label chicken will develop.

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