Myths / Q&A

Hormones


1. Introduction

Astral considers as paramount, the safety of the chicken meat we produce and sell. Many of our customers have expressed concern about the alleged injection of chickens with hormones supposedly to stimulate rapid growth. This is based on their belief that there may be residual hormones in the chicken meat which will have adverse health effects, such as breast cancer and/or uterine cysts in women. However, there are no hormones registered for use in chicken farming for application through injection or feed or any other means, in South Africa. Furthermore, Astral processes about 3.9 million broilers per week which would make the injection of individual chickens with hormones practically impossible!


2. Background

The myth that hormones are currently used in chicken production stems from historic events in the 1950's in the United States of America (USA) where a synthetic estrogen hormone called diethylstilbestrol (DES) was used to accelerate the growth of chickens and cattle. This in-feed application of DES was linked to an increased risk of cervical and breast cancer. Hence, the in-feed use of DES for food animals was banned during the late 1970's.

3. Astral's Standard Practices

Astral's modern breed of meat chickens would not need any man-made hormones to grow faster! These chickens are selected for rapid growth, high breast meat yield and improved feed conversion. This improved production efficiency enables Astral to compete in the market and provide for the ever increasing demand for affordable protein.

It is the balance between superior genetics, nutrition, disease management and the housing environment that came about from many years of scientific research, that has led to the rapid growth of the modern broiler chick.