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From the Publisher’s Desk – I’m keeping a ‘breast’ of the situation

By Keith Whitson

I’m a breast man myself. A lot of people go for the legs, but there’s just not enough meat on them for me. Before your mind goes too far, let me clear this up. I’m talking about chicken parts.

As I sat in a restaurant the other day, I started thinking about how much chicken must be on hand at that one eatery to fix all of their menu options for all of their customers for that one day. Then I thought about our entire town, with probably each restaurant having some form of chicken, plus grocery stores and homes. When my mind branched out to think of each state in the U.S., I couldn’t even imagine the chickens needed.

Where are they raised? Do we have an entire state with every square inch devoted to chickens? Maybe there is a huge barge the size of Texas floating in the ocean for chicken raising and harvesting.

According to the National Chicken Council (yes, there is such a thing), 28 pounds of chicken per year were consumed by the average individual in 1960. Last year it was 90.1 pounds and, it is estimated to be 92.1 this year. I certainly eat my share, but I am not sure I eat that much.

An employee at The Erwin Record was talking about going with a friend to Hooters recently. Between the two of them they had 50 wings. That’s 25 chickens. On a night with a wing special, consumers could wipe out a small village of poultry in one restaurant.

Run chickens, run! I think the industry must pull our “legs” on all of this organic, free range and cage free talk. Take a caged chicken, turn it lose long enough to kill it and, for 5 seconds, it was free to roam – free range chicken.

My mind goes back to my childhood. We had chickens that roamed freely in the yard, nested in the barn and gave us wonderful eggs. From time to time, my grandmother would snatch one up, lightening fast, sling it around by the neck until it broke and then cut the bird’s head off with an ax.

I vividly remember the chicken flopping all over the ground. In my young mind it was still alive but, without a head, couldn’t see how to get up and run. From that, the bird was dunked up and down in scalding hot water so the feathers could be plucked out. To this day I don’t think I have smelled anything that distinct.

Let me just say, that image and odor will forever be ingrained in my mind. However, chicken is one of my favorite meats. The possibilities are endless.

Chickens have some disgusting parts called giblets. This consists of the neck, liver, heart and gizzard. If that’s your preference, eat all you want. That leaves more of the good stuff for me.

According to Purdue University, there are 50 billion eggs produced each year in the U.S. Do you think the chickens ever question what goes with the eggs they lay?

The average number of eggs produced by one hen was 160 in 1960. It had gone up to 325 by 2009. They must be competing for the chicken olympics.

It takes 21 days for chicks to hatch from eggs and 20 weeks before they can start laying eggs.

According to the study, four pounds of feed is required to produce 12 eggs.

A chicken will turn her eggs 50 times  per day to keep the yolk from sticking to the side.

White is the usual color of the chicken’s ear lobe that produces white eggs. Red is the ear lobe color of those that produce brown eggs. There are no nutritional differences between the two.

During the course of her lifetime, a hen may produce as much as 30 times her body weight in eggs; at one per day, for almost two and a half years, that is about 900.

A hen does not need to be fertilized to lay an egg, and most birds in a laying facility have never even been in contact with a rooster. Sounds like he doesn’t have as much to crow about after all.

There are 8 billion chickens consumed in the US each year.

According to the American Egg Board, presently, there are approximately 67 egg producing companies with 1 million-plus hens that represents approximately 86 percent of total production and 17 companies with greater than 5 million hens.

The top 10 egg producing states, in order, are Iowa, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Texas, Michigan, California, Georgia, Minnesota and Nebraska.

There were 7.10 billion eggs produced in the US during June 2016. The average person is estimated to consume 264 eggs in one year.

Would any male readers like to check out some “chicks”? Chicks are separated into male and female by chicken sexers. They hold each chick by hand up to a 300 watt bulb to determine if it is male or female (the females are kept for egg laying). A typical chicken sexer examines 1,000 chicks per hour, 80,000 per day, with 99 percent accuracy.

Don’t let this column ruffle your feathers. I like to keep you a “breast” on things like this.

So, after all this information, which came first, the chicken or the egg? I tend to believe God created the chicken and it went from there.