Did you know that all fresh and frozen raw chicken meat available in Australia is in fact ‘born, bred and raised’ in Australia? Some consumers mistakenly think that the chicken they place on their table may come from overseas. It doesn’t! Our chickens have been grown on Australian farms, and processed in Australian processing plants, to the strictest of Australian standards.
Some cooked chicken meat (probably less than half a percent of all chicken meat sold in Australia), is imported, but only if the chicken meat has been processed in accordance with the required, strict protocols (which include prolonged exposure to high temperatures) to destroy viruses and bacteria of concern and to ensure that there is no unacceptable risk to consumers or Australian poultry. This product mainly ends up as an ingredient to processed food (e.g. in canned chicken, soups or animal food). A small amount of cooked chicken meat is also imported from New Zealand.
There are approximately 700 meat chicken rearing farms around Australia which are busy helping to produce the 660 million meat chickens ready for us to eat each year.
History of today’s chicken
It’s often said that Australia is a culturally diverse nation, and the same can be said of our chooks. Chickens aren’t ‘native’ to Australia, but while it is generally accepted that domestic chickens are descended from the Asian Red Jungle Fowl and the great grandparents of today’s meat chickens do indeed come from afar (see more below), today’s chicken is very much ‘true blue’.
The domestic chicken meat industry really only grew legs (excuse the pun) in the late 1950s. Chicken production and consumption have increased dramatically over time, and chicken meat has proudly held its position as Australia’s favourite meat since 2006. The industry is continuing to expand and develop today.
Keeping it fresh
To continue improving our meat chicken genetics, new, improved breeding stock is routinely introduced. This comes into Australia by way of hatching eggs sourced from a small number of overseas specialist breeding companies. These imported eggs are hatched out in quarantine facilities. By the time they have been multiplied up through several generations to produce the chickens you eat, they are fourth generation Aussie! Here’s an infographic that explains the process:
So next time you think about preparing some delicious, locally-produced protein to celebrate this Australia Day (or any other day for that matter), remember that you can’t go past 100 per cent local, home grown chicken.