What Chicken to Buy: A Guide to Choosing the Best Breed for Your Needs
Chicken is one of the most popular and versatile meats in the world. It can be roasted, fried, grilled, baked, stewed, and more. But not all chickens are created equal. Depending on your preferences, budget, and location, you may want to buy a different breed of chicken for your table.
In this article, we will explore some of the factors that affect the quality and taste of chicken meat, such as breed, diet, environment, and processing. We will also introduce some of the best chicken breeds for different purposes, such as egg production, meat production, or dual-purpose. Finally, we will give you some tips on how to buy and store chicken safely and ethically.
What Makes a Good Chicken?
There are many factors that influence the quality and taste of chicken meat, but some of the most important ones are:
- Breed: Different breeds of chickens have different characteristics, such as size, shape, color, feathering, comb type, temperament, and egg-laying ability. Some breeds are more suited for meat production, while others are more suited for egg production or both. Some breeds are also more adapted to certain climates and environments than others.
- Diet: What chickens eat affects their health, growth, and flavor. Chickens that are fed a balanced and varied diet of grains, vegetables, fruits, insects, and worms tend to produce more nutritious and tasty meat than chickens that are fed a low-quality or monotonous diet of corn and soy. Chickens that are allowed to free-range or pasture-raised also have access to more natural and diverse food sources than chickens that are confined in cages or barns.
- Environment: How chickens live affects their well-being, behavior, and stress levels. Chickens that are raised in spacious, clean, and stimulating environments tend to be happier and healthier than chickens that are raised in crowded, dirty, and boring environments. Chickens that are exposed to natural light and fresh air also tend to have stronger immune systems and less diseases than chickens that are kept in artificial lighting and ventilation.
- Processing: How chickens are slaughtered, plucked, cleaned, cut, packaged, and transported affects their freshness, safety, and quality. Chickens that are processed humanely, hygienically, quickly, and locally tend to retain more flavor and moisture than chickens that are processed cruelly, poorly, slowly, or distantly. Chickens that are treated with chemicals such as chlorine or antibiotics also tend to have lower quality and taste than chickens that are treated naturally or organically.
What Chicken Breed to Buy?
There are hundreds of chicken breeds in the world, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your needs and preferences, you may want to choose a different breed for your backyard coop or your dinner plate. Here are some of the best chicken breeds for different purposes:
If you want to buy chicken for their eggs, you should look for breeds that lay large quantities of eggs per year (usually over 200), have good egg quality (such as shell color and strength), and have good egg-laying temperament (such as calmness and reliability). Some good choices would be the Mediterranean breeds such as Andalusians, Leghorns, and Penedesencas. Their smallish,
sleek bodies and large combs help them stay cool in extreme heat. Conversely,
if you live in a cold climate,
then a larger bodied chicken with a smaller comb will do better. Some examples
are Australorps, Orpingtons, and Wyandottes. These breeds also have
fluffy feathers that keep them warm in winter. If you want eggs with unusual
such as blue or green,
you can try Araucanas, Ameraucanas, or Easter Eggers. These breeds
have a genetic trait that produces eggs with pigmented shells.
If you want to buy chicken for their meat,
you should look for