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How Genetics Affect Flavor of Meat, Poultry and Game

How Genetics Affect Flavor of Meat, Poultry and Game

April 26, 2016

Did you know that genetics directly affect the flavor of meat, poultry and game?

One of the major changes in the meat and poultry industry over the past century has been the development of faster-growing genetics that are cheaper to produce. These modern genetics are the industry’s response to the mass-market demand for more meat at the lowest possible cost.

The unintended effect of increased production efficiency has been the loss of flavor in the process and it has created a number of animal welfare issues with these faster-growing breeds.

This chart from the National Chicken Council shows that in 1925 it took 112 days to produce a chicken that weighed 2.5 pounds live (less than 2 pounds dressed). Today, with modern genetics, it takes only 48 days and significantly less feed to grow a chicken that weighs 6.2 pounds live (over 4.5 pounds dressed).

By using genetics of a bygone era in all of our Heritage breed animals, Joyce Farms produces table fare with superior culinary characteristics when compared to modern commercial genetics. The longer time and slower growing process allows intramuscular fat to develop in the meat, yielding a juicier and more flavorful bite, like a well-marbled steak. The texture of the meat is far superior, and the very thin skin (a characteristic of the Cou Nu, or “naked neck”, breed) is highly sought after by chefs.

Our Poulet Rouge Fermier chicken, an authentic Label Rouge heritage chicken from France, takes 84 days and 15 pounds of feed to grow to 4.75 pounds live (about 3.5 pounds dressed).

Modern cattle genetics have also suffered at the hands of production efficiency. Steers are being grown larger and faster, but the beef does not taste like it once did. Our success in producing Naked Grass-Fed Beef that grades USDA Prime and USDA Choice is mostly due to our focus on quality genetics. Dr. Allen Williams, our Chief Ranching Officer, selectively bred cattle to produce genetics going back to the original Aberdeen Angus breeds from Scotland in the 1840’s, and the bloodline developed is traceable to its Scottish roots. This particular breed is a much smaller carcass than today’s commercial cattle genetics, and consistently finishes very well on grass, as nature intended.