Born and brought up in the city, I’ve always known chicken to taste the same whether we have it in a hotel or when we make it at home. A couple of years back, I had gone on a trip to Phuket, Thailand, and wherever I went, the chicken tasted different and a little odd, which was very surprising to me. I then found out that they use only farm chickens and not the broiler kind that I have got used to so much in the city. I had seen them in the chicken stalls but had never given it much thought. After coming back, I started researching about the two and the difference between them.
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Difference Between Country & Broiler Chicken
Country Chickens, aka Farm Chickens, are the ones that come to mind when you think of traditional chicken coops. Think of the movies you would have seen of farms where chickens are running around and pecking the ground, and that is basically what these are. The chickens are naturally grown without any supplements and are free from any pesticides or hormones. They are allowed to roam around, and that means their muscle growth is good, and they are normally low in fat due to the amount of exercise they get just running around. The farmers don’t interfere with the growth, and they let it grow until the time to take it to the slaughterhouse. Country chickens are typically grown on a small scale as a side income for farmers.
I thought Broiler Chicken is the actual type of chicken, but I was wrong. This is a general name given to any chicken that is grown for mass production. Broiler chickens are chosen from different breeds based on their growth rate and size to get as much meat in the smallest amount of time. Usual chickens will grow around 120 days until they are ready for the slaughterhouse, but Broiler chickens are around 30 days. The chickens are cooped up together with not much space to move and are fed food with anti-bacteria and pesticides to reduce any infections. The feed compositions also fatten the chicken beyond their normal weight, causing them to always lie down as their legs can no longer support their weight. They are also given muscle enhancers to grow their breast muscles abnormally larger than normal to get a bigger meat portion per chicken. This affects their center of gravity and, in turn, their ability to walk.
Which Is The Best? Country Chicken or Broiler Chicken?
This would completely depend on your taste preference. The country chickens are from different farms, and there is no uniform feed; the taste of the meat will always differ. On the other hand, since broiler chickens are mass-produced, have a similar feed, and are often have the same time as parent birds, the meat will taste more or less the same. Another big difference you will notice is the tenderness; Since country chickens are free to roam around, their meat is tough and much rougher, while broiler chickens are much more tender as they don’t get much exercise (most of the time, none at all).
So by now, you must be like, ok, so if I buy broiler chicken, I will get tender meat that will not taste different every time. But there are a large number of downsides of broiler chicken. Remember, when explaining about Broiler chicken, I mentioned the life cycle as 30 days? There is no way without bringing it down that drastically without any side effects. These chicken are high in antibiotics and growth hormones, and because of the low life cycle, all this is passed onto the consumer. A large number of studies showed that broiler chickens cause drug-resistant bacteria, and there was even one study that concluded that having one broiler chicken a week is equal to getting one antibiotic injection per week. The feed that fattens the chicken results in unhealthy fat being passed on to the consumer, which means the more broiler you eat, the higher chances of obesity, high blood pressure, heart problems, etc. I also found a cancer study that showed that broiler chicken consumption after cooking at high temperatures, for example, barbecuing, grilling over an open flame, increases the risk of cancer, especially prostate cancer in men.
Country chickens are the exact opposite of the above. Since they are free to roam, are not given any growth enhancers and drugs, they are much healthier, and their meat is chemical-free. They are also high in protein due to good muscle growth and are low in fat and, in fact, so low that it is recommended to add a little fat when cooking the meat to get a balanced meal. There have been studies that showed that people who ate only country chickens when compared to those who ate broiler chicken have fewer health issues in the longer run.
In the past, country chickens have comparatively been expensive compared to the mass-produced Broiler chicken in cities due to the demand. Still, in the last few years, a large number of co-operatives have come up to bridge the gap to the point where the cost is not that different between the two.
The Bottomline: So after reading all these, what would you choose to do? Would you be like “YOLO” and enjoy all the delicacies of broiler chicken has to offer or try to adjust yourself to the taste of country chicken? Would you choose a long and healthier life over juicier, tender meat? Or do you say screw everything and turn completely, vegetarian? Me, personally, being an ardent non-vegetarian foodie, chicken is something that I cannot avoid, and the option is limited when it comes to restaurants that serve country chicken and the number of dishes that I will not be able to eat because it tastes good when made with Broiler chicken. So in the end, even knowing the complete downsides, I’m going to try some dishes that I can make with country chicken, but in the meanwhile, I’m still going to enjoy all the delicacies I have been enjoying so far. Let me know in the comments which chicken you prefer and what is your favorite chicken dish?