The (Short-Lived) Flight of the Super Chicken

Updated: May 14

"What the hell is a super chicken," you ask? Well, it starts with a story.

In the 1990s, Purdue University Professor Dr. William Muir set out to research egg-laying productivity among hens. To do this, he segregated hens into two flocks of nine: one of average egg producers and one of bountiful egg producers. Both flocks were left to breed over the course of multiple egg-producing generations. An evolutionary biologist, Muir was confident the second flock of "super chickens" would become, over time, a flock of "super-super chickens" with increased egg production never before seen.

Something about heritability and other science stuff...

He was wrong.

The results were highly contradicting. Egg production significantly plummeted. However, it was the reason why that was more astonishing. Of the nine "super chickens" from which Muir began, only three remained alive. The other six had been killed (murdered, really) and the remaining three were emaciated from incessant attacks on each other: gaunt, visibly distraught, and bare of a single feather.

And that other flock of, well, average hens? They were fat and happy and fully feathered with a 160% increase in egg production only a few generations in.