Photo by: U.S. Department of Agriculture
If you have the space available, raising chickens for meat is an inexpensive and easy way to provide your family with the healthiest possible poultry. A healthy diet, exercise, and sunlight does a bird good. Not only are the birds healthier, but organically raised chickens are fed organic feed, free from the pesticides and chemical fertilizers their factory counterparts dine on. Your backyard birds won’t be on a constant diet of antibiotics either. Your poultry will be less likely to be infected with food-borne-illness causing pathogens, your birds will grow to be leaner and meatier due to exercise and free movement, and your meat will taste better too. What isn’t there to love?
Roasted, broiled, grilled, or fried, chicken is an amazingly versatile meat. Dark meat or light? It’s a matter of preference. One is not truly superior to the other, although there are some nutritional differences. While they have nearly the same amount of calories and protein, light meat is slightly less caloric (21 calories less, according to the US Department of Agriculture Database). Dark meat has twice the amount of saturated fat but they both contain vitamins B and A and 4% of the recommended daily allowance of thiamin. Dark meat has double the riboflavin as light meat while light meat contains more niacin. As you can see, both have their benefits. While white meat may be the healthiest choice for the cholesterol conscious, neither is bad for you. It’s really a matter of what one prefers. Americans tend to prefer white meat, while in some Asian countries it is dark meat that is desired.
Boneless, skinless chicken breast is an excellent part of a low-fat, healthy diet. Why? Low in saturated fat, high in protein, and vitamin rich, there aren’t many other meats out there that have so much to offer. A serving of chicken has fewer calories than a serving of beef as well as fewer grams of saturated fat and cholesterol. There’s a reason that nutritionists say to avoid red meat and choose chicken instead. It’s better for you. Raising your own chickens will provide you with the healthiest possible chicken meat. Remember, quality food, space to roam, and sunshine create a great chicken. The healthier the environment, the healthier the resulting meat.
Whether you’re simply considering raising broilers (meat chickens) or whether you already have a flock, backyard farming is an enjoyable and hugely rewarding hobby. Do your research, find the breed that’s right for you, and enjoy.