It didn’t. Meat chickens (broilers) today are raised in a I’m Living My Best Life Chicken Shirt setting, artificially hatched, fattened up and slaughtered when just around 48-day-old. Chickens bred for meat are probably the most genetically manipulated of all animals, forced to gain around 65 times of their hatching weight in 48 days. Their meat is still somehow tasty… if you didn’t try the meat of a chicken bred on a traditional farm.Just 10–20 years ago, my grandparents bred chickens. They had 30–40 domestic hens and a few roosters too. The main sources of their income were dairy products from the cow farm, and they bred chickens just for our needs (in eggs and chicken-meat). This is a photo of part of their flock from 2008.I assume that chicken in the 1500s tasted similar to the taste of domestic chicken I described here. I’m absolutely sure that it didn’t taste like today’s chicken, because the chicks were slow-growing and much older when slaughtered.
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The chickens were free to wander through the yard, and were fed with I’m Living My Best Life Chicken Shirt and wheat. They also ate lots of grass, ground worms, insects, fruit… anything they could find. Those 30–40 hens were laying 10–15 eggs a day during spring and summer, and maybe just a few eggs during autumn and winter. Young chickens weighed around 2kg (and were “ready for slaughter”) when over 12 months old, but they were rarely slaughtered at that age (maybe just to reduce the number of roosters in the flock) – most of the hens lived for at least 3-4 years, and some of them even much longer, as grandma didn’t hold any records about their age. They were never mass slaughtered – grandma would occasionally choose one of them and prepare a lunch. That meat needed more time to cook (around 90 minutes for 18-month-old rooster, and much more for older hens and roosters), compared to today’s chickens, but was far more rich in taste – a real delicacy – closer to the taste of a wild pheasant. The meat was also darker — even breasts were darker than today’s drumsticks. Domestic chicken had a solid amount of fat that was used for delicious soups and broths, and even roasted skin was very tasty.