Country chickens are all native domesticated fowl that are bred by local farmers on a small-scale basis in natural environments – without much interference from farmers. 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. This means that they deal with the normal issues of growing up, including fighting for their food, trying to escape from predators, etc. which manifests into the taste and texture of these birds. Their meat has a deep, complex flavour, and they have lower fat content and a higher muscle mass. Many love the flavour of country chicken which are not commercially produced, but are also faced with issues like tough, gamey birds that take quite a long time to cook.
Broiler chickens are raised exclusively for their meat in shielded, sterile environments with controlled temperature and feed control. All these birds get the same food, zero exercise, and the same exposure to the elements. Generally, they tend to be a kind of Cornish hen or other commercial variety. The broiler chickens spend their whole lives in their coops with hundreds or thousands of chicken. They are all high on fat and low on muscle, meaning their meat will be tender. Their diets, usually comprising of corn feed and nutritional supplements, usually lead to them tasting the same (which might not necessarily be a bad thing). Broiler chickens are a huge favourite in the country because their meat is guaranteed to be juicy and tender as well as being more affordable, and more readily available. But over time, due to unhealthy breeding conditions, many chickens develop weak bone structures and a high risk for avian diseases due to inbreeding. Since all broilers are sold very young, they often contain hormones, antibiotics and trace amounts of pesticides, all of which can be a potential health hazard. Antibiotics used in commercially-raised chicken may be one of the factors that cause germ resistance in some people, and even small amounts of hormones can have a big effect, possibly increasing the risk of cancer and early-onset of puberty. Commercially-raised chicken may also be exposed to other contaminants, like heavy metals that appear in some commercial chicken food.
Health Benefits: Country Chicken vs. Broiler Chicken
Country chickens possess fewer toxins from free foraging, meaning little to no health risks, as opposed to broiler chickens, which, according to “Consumer Reports,” are injected hormones and additives that are known to increase the risk of cancer and early onset of puberty.
Country chickens also contain more muscle and less fat, which is the exact opposite for broiler chickens. The American Culinary Federation actually recommends adding a little fat while cooking organically raised chicken due to its lower fat content.
Country chickens have a more complex and tender flavour, whereas all broiler chickens have a relatively fixed flavour.
Healthier free range eggs contain 1/3rd less cholesterol, 1/4th less saturated fat, 2/3rd more vitamins, twice as much omega-3 fatty acids, thrice as much Vitamin E, four to six times more vitamin D and seven times as much beta carotene than broiler eggs, dark orange yolks, whereas broiler chicken eggs are comparatively less healthy to organic eggs, and yellow yolks.
Photo: LS Archive/Sazzad Ibne Sayed