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What is the bird that’s called a Chester? Is it some special kind of chicken? This is some sort of edible poultry, so like a duck or a turkey or a goose or a pheasant or a partridge might be, not like a sparrow or an eagle or a gull which we never eat.

I have looked this up in Wikipedia but found no relevant answers there because the only animals they seem to mention are a kind of pig and various things whose proper names include Chester, including towns and people. They do mention an American fried-chicken restaurant named Chester’s, but that seems to be a person’s name, not that of a type of poultry that you would eat.

Can someone please tell me what kind of animal a Chester is, and maybe why it’s called that?

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    Chester us a classic leather sofa.
    – Gio
    Commented Jan 29, 2023 at 17:06
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    A "Chester" in what context? The place, the combining element in other place names, the boy's name, some other context?
    – Laurel
    Commented Jan 29, 2023 at 17:10
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    Probably this one: google.com/…
    – user 66974
    Commented Jan 29, 2023 at 18:25
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    dictionary.com/browse/chester Next time, tell users what a chester cannot be, and provide the context and source. Where did you read this term, who is the author? What is the time period?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 29, 2023 at 19:14
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    @Gio no, that's a Chesterfield.
    – hobbs
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 10:18

3 Answers 3

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A Chester is, indeed, a special kind of chicken. It's Brazilian, and it looks like this:

white chickens with red combs and wattles

(From Flavors of Brazil)


As for what it is, exactly, you're not alone in wondering- there's a bit of a mysterious air around this. ("Some say the bird is an aberration created by crossing turkeys with ostriches. Others contend that they are fathered by three-foot-tall roosters. Some go as far as to ask whether they are grown on trees.") Part of this is because the mystique contributes to sales, and part of it is for legal reasons. But really, it's not that much of a mystery.

From The Poultry Site,

Chester is a pumped-up chicken, the result of a genetic selection project by biologists at Brazil's second-largest food processor, Perdigão. The bird costs less than turkey and has more meat than a standard chicken, helping it win two-thirds of Brazil's poultry sales during the year-end holiday season.

Basically, it was a project that the Brazilian food-processing-company Perdigão undertook, with the goal of manufacturing a chicken that was inexpensive but meaty, easy to raise, and easy to breed. Per the New York Times, the project began in 1979, and

Working at a secret location to prevent genetic mixing with other birds, the Perdigão team developed a “super-chicken” that was about 70 percent breast and thigh by weight, compared with 45 percent for typical chickens. They named it the Chester, a pseudo-Englishism meant to evoke the bird’s outsize physique.

So that's what a Chester is- for all the mystery and all the urban legends, it's just a synthetic super-chicken.

You would need to subscribe to the outlet to read the article, but there's also more information at It's Brazil's signature Christmas meat, but what is 'Chester'?.

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    Its ancestors were eleven different strains of Scottish chickens, acquired in the United States, at least according to the Portuguese-language magazine article I quote from. I didn't find much in the way of English-language sources outside The New York Times, and it lacked some of the details.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 29, 2023 at 21:59
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    You should only ever write Perdigão with the tilde over the ‹a› yielding ‹ã›. It’s not just some optional/omittable punctuation; that tilde makes it a completely different letter altogether, and you cannot ever leave it out. Otherwise it would be a different, nonexistent Portuguese word that would confuse people. The letter ‹ã› is the nasalized remnant of a deleted letter ‹n› that is no longer written, so earlier Perdigano before orthographic reform. This is a little bit like how in French the letter ‹ê› usually represents a former ‹s› that is also no longer written.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 29, 2023 at 22:06
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    @tchrist, thank you for pointing that out; I'll fix it. The NYT article used the tilde, but the other one didn't, a difference that I failed to notice. And having read your translated version of the Portuguese article, I agree that the English sources are lacking in specifics. Commented Jan 29, 2023 at 22:32
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    "Working at a secret location to prevent genetic mixing with other birds..." I'm going out on a limb to believe that the location wasn't being kept secret from other birds on the off-chance that some lesser bird (oh, let's say a pigeon) might want in on the genetic experiments, but rather, perhaps, that some unscrupulous competitor might want to have some fun by tossing an unsuspecting ISA Brown or Silkie into the mix. That'd show 'em! (And that was actually a quote from the NYT... Sheesh....)
    – JBH
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 6:24
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Yes, a Chester is just a chicken: the fruit of a dozen years of intense artificial selection that’s large and even a little gangly, but still simply a chicken for all that. They like to call it a super-chicken.

It’s also the commercial trademark with tightly controlled propagation by Perdigão, the corporate owner of that trademark. (They named their company after the perdigão, which is another name for a male partridge.)

Their Wikipedia page linked to above reads in part:

Chester não é uma ave como muitas pessoas pensam. O Chester é um tipo muito especial de frango. É um super frango, se preferir, maior, com menos gordura e grandes quantidades de peito e coxa (mais de 70% da ave, contra 45% em um frango comum). Em 1979, avicultores brasileiros foram aos EUA e voltaram com os pais do Chester. A ideia principal era chegar a uma ave vistosa que fosse uma alternativa ao poderoso peru.

Which says that it’s not the bird a lot of people think it is. It’s actually a very special type of chicken, a super-chicken if you will, larger and with less fat but more breast and thigh meat. Brazilian poultry farmers went to the United States in 1979 and came back with the Chester’s parents. The main idea was to come up with an attractive fowl that could be an alternative to the powerful turkey.

In a “What’s a Chester?” article from the Brazilian magazine Super Interessante by Maíra Termero that was first published 2011-05-01 and later updated 2022-12-20, we learn the full story:

O que é um Chester?

Que fique claro: ele é só um frango. Grande, fruto de 12 anos de seleção artificial e meio desengonçado, mas um frango.

Desde 1982, quando chegou à fama, que o Brasil fala de suas coxas e seu peito. Mas, diferentemente de outras beldades, o Chester não atrai só admiração, mas também desconfiança. Culpa das empresas que criam os bichos em segredo, dando margem a teorias da conspiração. Que fique claro: o Chester é só um frango. Grande, fruto de 12 anos de seleção artificial e meio desengonçado, mas um frango.

Essa história começou em 1979, quando Sadia e Perdigão nem imaginavam que um dia seriam a mesma empresa. Coube a um executivo da Perdigão, Saul Brandalise Jr., a missão de criar uma alternativa para o peru de Natal da concorrente, um sucesso de vendas.

Brandalise enviou aos EUA dois técnicos, que voltaram com 11 linhagens de uma galinha escocesa. Elas foram direto para a avícola Passo da Felicidade, em Tangará, no interior catarinense. A granja ficava no meio de uma reserva de araucárias, protegendo as aves de contaminação e garantindo sigilo.

Em 1982, após três anos de desenvolvimento, surgiu no mercado o Chester – marca registrada que vem do inglês chest (“peito”). Anos depois, apareceu o “Chester da Sadia”, o Fiesta, outro superfrango.

O Chester é alimentado à base de milho e soja e é selecionado para ter cada vez mais peso com menos gordura. Tudo, diz a marca, sem qualquer tipo de medicamento, antibiótico ou hormônio anabolizante.

Duelo dos pesos-pena

Veja a comparação entre as estrelas galináceas da ceia de Natal

Chester

Altura: 60 cm
Peso: 4 kg
Abate: Em 50 dias para os machos; 35 dias para fêmeas (vendidas como frango comum)
Conte na ceia: Achar um Chester é fácil. Difícil é achar um ovo de Chester. Sua produção é controlada e a venda é proibida, para manter o bicho exclusivo da marca.

...

Loosely translated, that more or less means:

What’s a Chester?

Let’s be clear: it’s just a chicken: large, the fruit of a dozen years of artificial selection, and a little gangly besides, but a chicken nevertheless.

Ever since 1982 when it first rose to fame, Brazil has been talking about the bird’s breasts and thighs. But unlike other such beauties, the Chester attracts not only admiration but distrust as well. This is purely the fault of the companies who breed the animals in secret, which leads to conspiracy theories cropping up. Let’s be clear: it’s just a chicken: large, the fruit of a dozen years of artificial selection, and a little gangly besides, but still a chicken.

The Chester’s story began in 1979 when Sadia and Perdigão couldn’t imagine that someday they would be the same company. It fell to a Perdigão executive named Saul Brandalise Jr to create an alternative to their competitor Sadia’s Christmas turkey, a sales success.

Brandalise sent two technicians to the US, who came back with eleven strains of Scottish chicken. They went straight to the “Passo da Felicidade” poultry farm in Tangará, in the interior of the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. The farm was located in the middle of a monkey-puzzle tree preserve, protecting the birds from contamination and guaranteeing secrecy.

In 1982, following three years of development, the Chester appeared on the market – a trademark that comes from the English word chest. Years later another super chicken appeared: Sadia’s version of the Chester which they called the Fiesta.

The Chester is fed maize and soybeans, and it has been bred to gain more weight with less fat. All this, says the company, without any kind of medicine, antibiotic, or anabolic hormone.

Chester

Height: 24 inches (2 feet)
Weight: 4½ pounds
Slaughter: In 50 days for males; 35 days for females (which are sold as regular chickens)

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A Chester is a type of turkey it is a breed between a turkey and an ostrich.

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  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 17:53
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    The accepted answer, which the OP (you) accepted, says it's a type of chicken that is very large. Nowhere does anyone mention it's a cross between a turkey and an ostrich. Can you please cite your source. Please tell us where you got this information.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 19:10

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