Here is an exerpt from Robert Plamondon's Poultry and Rural Living Newsletter dated May 17, 2010. I thought it was interesting, and I thought I'd share in case you haven't read it. THere are always debates on this forum about cornish x vs. FR and other meat breeds. Much of it is geared towards layers, but the concepts are the same for meat breeds. Bad Genetics? When we started out with grass-fed eggs, we bought into the idea that modern hybrids were no good for free-range production old-fashioned breeds would work better under old-fashioned conditions, and hybrids were only good for confinement; they'd been ruined for anything else. Then we got a bunch of chickens from Oregon State University. Some of them were New Hampshire Reds, from a strain that had been used primarily for egg production through the Seventies. The rest were commercial White Leghorns modern hybrids. All were kept under the same conditions on the same pasture. Let the side-by-side testing begin! As it turned out, the White Leghorns laid rings around the New Hampshire Reds. They laid better in the summer. They laid better in the winter. They laid better when young. They laid better when old. And their eggs tasted just as good. Later we tried many, many other breeds, and the results were always the same: modern hybrids are better, even under seriously old-fashioned conditions like ours. Far from being tainted by the needs of commercial confinement, the modern hybrids are ideal for free-range flocks. The same is true of meat birds, only more so. When we were getting started, there were a lot of claims that hybrid broilers were basically impossible to raise to slaughter age they'd been ruined by the confinement guys and just keeled over and died if you looked at them funny. Bad genetics, they said. After a while, we figured out that a lot of the bad genetics looked a lot like chilling in the brooder house, or coccidiosis, or heat prostration. (These are issues we saw ourselves; other farmers added bad genetics that look like malnutrition to the list). But we discovered an amazing thing if we took steps against coccidiosis, for example, all the cases of bad genetics that look like coccidiosis vanished! (The trick with chickens in general, and broilers in particular, is to do an excellent job in the brooder house. I wrote my book, Success With Baby Chicks, to make this easy for you.) So why all the talk about bad genetics? It comes down to blame the victim. There's a belief that everything that's done on factory farms is wrong. If such farms use White Leghorns, then White Leghorns must be bad. One might just as easily conclude that, since factory farmers breathe oxygen, oxygen must be bad! You can see how beliefs like this will give you a self-imposed learning disability. A practical person would find out what the conventional farmers do, and adopt their better practices and ignore the impractical ones. The snag is that alternative farming has a strong appeal to impractical people. Worse, much of what is written about it is dumbed down for an audience of consumers, and is about as useful as a guide to farming as a Little Golden Book. And it promotes a black-and-white, us-versus-them, good-versus-evil mindset, where the very concept that you could learn something from a conventional farmer is met with gasps of horror. Pretty sad, really. If you're wise, you'll learn from anybody. You can't help it! As it turns out, White Leghorns have always been considered to be an excellent free-range chicken, as well as doing unusually well in confinement. Milo Hastings discussed this in The Dollar Hen a hundred years ago. The idea that brown-egg birds do better under farm conditions is a superstition. Fortunately, we never believed that tainted genes stuff, and when we went down a politically correct rathole, we usually emerged pretty quickly. But there are plenty of people who are still struggling with these unhelpful beliefs. Speaking of genes, it turns out that genetics are not quite so cut-and-dried as they seem, especially for humans. While on the one hand, you can claim that the differences between a human and a chicken are genetic differences, on the other hand, even identical twins, with identical genes, aren't all that identical. They become more and more different over time. If this is true of identical twins, imagine how different we can be from our parents! Not only lifestyle, but attitude has a huge effect on whether our good genes do us any good our our bad genes do us any harm, and over time, the cumulative effect is enormous. So if you've been glooming and dooming about problems that run in your family, stop right now! It's probably more under your control than you think. Most things are.