Broiler Chicken Vs Farm Grown Chicken
Chicken, the word is enough to bring a smile to the face of any foodie. So many delicious recipes and good times are associated with a tasty chicken dish. This versatile and adaptable bird has been cultivated for human consumption for thousands of years. It is easy and cheap to keep and raise these birds. Chicken is the most widely eaten poultry in the world today. Chicken is a source of complete protein. That means it fulfills the entire amino acid requirement of the body. Coupled with high vitamin and mineral content, it is easy to see why this delicious bird has made inroads into hearts and dishes all around the globe. Today, Chicken Tikka Masala is the national dish of the United Kingdom. So, chicken is good news all around. For everyone except the chickens, that is!
For most of us, the simplest way to obtain chicken meat is to buy it at the market. But very few of us are aware of where chickens we eat come from and how they are raised. It is important to be aware of these factors because they have a direct effect on the nutritional content of the food. In addition, certain harmful side effects may be passed on to us through the birds as we are the final consumers. Today, there are two main sources of chickens – broiler chickens and farm-grown ones. Let us examine the two in detail:
- Broiler chickens are bred and raised entirely for meat production. When they reach a certain size and weight, they are processed for human consumption. This process may take several weeks, depending on the growth speed of the breed in question.
- The broiler chickens are housed together in large houses with hundreds and sometimes thousands of other chickens. These houses are ideally well ventilated, disinfected, spacious and temperature controlled to ensure optimum chicken health and development.
- The feed of the broiler chickens has special importance because the chickens eat this feed and convert it into the meat. The feed is high in protein and vitamins. Fresh and clean water is also provided. Feed comprises the single largest component of the cost of raising broiler chickens.
Broiler chickens comprise an essential and nutritious part of any meal. However, consumers are only just waking up to the fact that broilers come with certain hazards. Some of these concerns are:
- The first lookout of a broiler chicken producer is to make the bird fat. Note – fat, and not healthy. This means that the feed of the chickens may be compromised. Producers may choose low-cost alternatives to healthy options. Chickens may also be injected with hormones to make them large. The unhealthy consequences are passed on to us as consumers.
- The way the chickens are raised can also be called into question. Stuffing a large number of birds into overcrowded spaces increases risks of the infection spreading. It also reduces overall chicken health. Research has shown that large number s of broiler chickens has E.Coli bacteria.
- To prevent infections, broiler chickens are given antibiotics. Over time, our own antibiotic resistance increases by eating such birds. This puts us at risk of diseases.
- There have also been concerns that the method of raising broiler chickens is inhumane and harmful to the environment.
It is a fact that the broiler chicken industry needs regulatory oversight to ensure quality. In the absence of such measures, we may be gambling with our health.
So what is the alternative?
Farm grown chickens have emerged as a tough competition to broiler chickens.
- Farm grown chickens, as the name suggests are raised on farms and have a lot of open space to roam and forage.
- They are further considered organic if they have been fed a vegetarian diet and only the basic minimum level of antibiotics.
- Depending on the country, they might also require inspection and certification to be considered organic.
- The chickens cannot be fed any hormones or other synthetic materials in any form.
Why are farm grown chickens considered better?
- First and foremost, taste. It is a fact that organic, free range and farm grown chickens are more delicious than broilers. Also, native breeds which were raised for centuries tend to have higher immunity, taste and nutrient content. In India, desi ‘murgis’ are highly prized for their unique and delicious appeal.
- Non-usage of harmful and toxic additives in the chicken feed ensures that the side effects are not passed on to our bodies.
- Farm grown chickens have more resilience to diseases since they tend to be genetically stronger. This means that we are much less likely to fall ill after eating them.
- It is considered a more humane way to treat the chickens before they finally end up of our tables.
The consumer must be aware that many labels in the market – organic, hormone and antibiotic free, cage free, GMO-free and natural are seriously misused. The producers can satisfy bare minimum requirements to qualify for such labels. It is very important to study which agency has certified such produce. In the United States, for example, the “USDA Organic” label is perhaps the best guarantee of quality.
Who knew that one could think so much about chickens? Well, this tasty bird is worth it, and so is your health. Happy eating!