Country chicken or Darag native chicken refers to the breeds of chickens native to the Philippines that are raised for eggs and meat. Different parts of the country have different breed types such as Banaba, Bolinao, Camarines (used for cock-fighting), Joloanon and Paraoakan (also used for cock-fighting). These are all native domesticated fowl that are bred by local farmers on a small scale basis.
The life of a native chicken is a charming one. Most of them spend a majority of their time in the great outdoors, running around and scratching the dirt for worms or insects then supplementing their diet with household scraps. They are butchered when they reach age of maturity, which is approximately 200 days (6.5 months).
Broiler chicken refers to the breeds of chicken that are bred and raised exclusively for their meat in specially constructed holdings that ensure temperature and feed control. Generally they tend to be some kind of a Cornish hen or other commercial variety. The broiler chickens spend their whole lives in their coops with hundreds or thousands of chickens and are fed a diet of corn feed and nutritional supplements. They are butchered at 45 days.
The difference in taste:
The Country Chicken or Native Chicken has a very varied diet and plenty of exercise and exposure to nature. This helps in developing the complexity of the meat’s flavor. One negative to this is that, if you are unlucky enough to buy a very old chicken, you could get stringy (but nevertheless delicious) meat.
Broilers everywhere have uniform bland, flavorless meat. Since their diet and production is controlled, you’re sure to have tender meat from a spring chicken. But over time, due to unhealthy breeding conditions, many chickens develop weak bone structures and a high risk for avian diseases due to inbreeding.
Why are broiler chickens so popular?
Price: In a country where meat still remains a rare luxury for many people, the cheap price of the broilers make it more attractive for a lot the consumers. So much so that in the recent inflation, some vegetables were more expensive per kilogram than broilers. A marketing campaign cleverly took advantage of this opportunity to announce that ‘chicken is now cheaper than vegetables!’ and induce more people to ‘eat chicken everyday’.
Consistency: Since all broilers are sold at a very young age and have a very soft muscle mass due to a lack of physical exertion, their meat is softer, tender and has more fat. I remember the times when my dad or uncle would have to pressure-cooked a Native Darag chicken because they had the misfortune to buy a tough bird. A lot of people switch over to broilers for the consistency of tender meat.
Availability: This is a relevant point, especially in the big cities, as the supply of country chicken isn’t always regular. A big factory-like operation can ensure a regular supply of it’s products but small-scale individually run farms often have a difficult time doing so.
More healthful: There are scientific basis to support the contention that native chicken meat is more healthful and nutritious than that of commercial broilers. Attesting to this are studies on the composition of the meat of native chicken and commercial broilers done by research institutions, among them University of the Philippines Los Baños and the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources and Research and Development (DOST-PCARRD).
The most recent study was conducted by DOST-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) researchers and it is titled “Nutrient, physio-chemical and sensory evaluation of meat from Philippine native chicken strain (Darag),” the study was funded by DOST. Results showed that the freshly dressed and frozen Native Chicken, most samples contained 20-21% protein and 3.7% fat when raw, and 87-27.5% protein and 4-2-5.3% fat when cooked.
“A 50-gram serving of cooked native chicken meat provides 24 percent of the recommended energy and nutrient intake for protein, and 13 percent of total dietary energy for fat,” the FNRI researchers said. The Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) recommended that fat intake for weaning infants in 30-40% of total dietary energy while for other age groups it was set at 20-30%.
On the other hand, freshly dressed and frozen Broiler Chicken meat samples contained 18.8-19.7% protein and 11% fat when raw and 26.1-26.9% fat when cooked.
For calcium and phosphorus contents, uncooked freshly dressed and frozen Native Chicken meat samples contained 9-12 milligrams per 100 grams and 279-314 mg/100 g. respectively, compared with the Broiler Chicken meat’s 5.4-8.3 mg/100 g and 289-312 mg/100 g, respectively.
The researchers said that Native Chicken meat can provide 12% (for a child) and 6% (for an adult) of potassium to meet the estimated requirements of healthy persons set by the 1989 US RDA Committee.
The cholesterol content of uncooked freshly dressed and frozen Native Chicken meat ranged from 96 mg to 105 mg/100 g and 141 mg/100 g when cooked. This amount is within the less than 300 mg/day recommendation of the FAO/WHO of the “reasonable restriction cholesterol intake.” Based on the study’s results, Native Chicken meat provides higher protein and lower fat in the diet compared with that of commercial Broiler Chickens.
“This could be the reason why most Filipinos prefer to eat native chicken meat than commercial broiler meat,” the researchers concluded. Buy local produce. Not only is does it taste better but you also support your farmers and artisans!
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