I found this graph which resembles one that was in an old textbook of mine. As you can see it takes more energy to produce one pound of chicken than corn, milk, apples, and eggs. Though, surprisingly, it takes more energy to make a pound of cheese than a pound of chicken.
That depends on the breed and the food sources provided to it. It takes very little energy to raise a chicken when the traditional cornmeal is supplemented by browsing. Chickens are able to provide pest removal to mature plants while also feeding themselves. This actually saves the energy needed to reduce these pests, while simultaneously increasing chicken weight. Some hybrid breeds of chicken will grow meat very quickly, to the point that their legs break from the weight. This is undesirable from a species viability as well as a humane standpoint. The best option is to use proven genetic stock found in heritage breeds. These breeds produce inconsistent meat results but they are able to forage well on their own. This saves time and money, while providing the benefits of pest reduction.
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