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Chicken

An Introduction
Chicken is a domesticated fowl apparently to have descended from the wild Indian and southeast Asian Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus) and the related Grey Junglefowl (G. sonneratii). The chicken is a descendant of the Southeast Asian red jungle fowl first domesticated in India around 2000 B.C. The chicken is one of the most extensively domesticed animals. Humans keep chickens principally as a source of food, with both their meat and their eggs being consumed.

A Brief History
Today, within 50 years of the onset of industrialized agriculture, our largely urban population has all but lost any connection with how food animals are raised. At the same time, the demand for meat, namely chicken, has increased substantially and industrialization

has changed production standards for farm animals. The desired outcome of cheap chicken food has been achieved.

Chicken as a meat has been described in the Babylonian carvings from around 600 BC. It was one of the favoured meat in the Middle Ages. During that age it was a generally accepted that chicken can be easily digested and was regarded to be one of the most neutral foodstuffs. According to available recorded culinary history chicken was eaten over most of the Eastern and western hemisphere. A wide variety of chicken like capons, pullets and hens were eaten. Chicken was one of the basic ingredients in the so-called white dish, a stew usually consisting of chicken and fried onions cooked in milk and seasoned with spices and sugar.

 

Breeding
Modern varieties of chicken such as the Cornish Cross, are bred specifically for meat production, with an emphasis placed on the ratio of feed to meat produced by the animal. The most common breeds of chicken consumed in the US are Cornish and White Rock.

Chickens raised specifically for meat are called broilers. Broilers are generally butchered at a young age. Modern Cornish Cross hybrids, for example, are butchered as early as 8 weeks for fryers and 12 weeks for roasting birds.

Capons (castrated cocks) produce more and fattier meat. For this reason, they are considered a delicacy and were particularly popular in the Middle Ages.

 
Breeds of Chicken
  • Broiler-fryer a young, tender chicken about 7 weeks old which weighs 2 1/2 to 4 1/2 pounds when eviscerated. Can be cooked by any method.
  • Rock Cornish Game Hen - a small broiler-fryer weighing between 1 and 2 pounds. Usually stuffed and roasted whole.
  • Roaster - an older chicken about 3 to 5 months old which weighs 5 to 7 pounds. It yields more meat per pound than a broiler-fryer. Usually roasted whole.
  • Capon - Male chickens about 16 weeks to 8 months old which are surgically unsexed. They weigh about 4 to 7 pounds and have generous quantities of tender, light meat. Usually roasted.
  • Stewing/Baking Hen - a mature laying hen 10 months to 1 1/2 years old. Since the meat is less tender than young chickens, it's best used in moist cooking such as stewing.
  • Cock or rooster - a mature male chicken with coarse skin and tough, dark meat. Requires long, moist cooking.

Popularity of Chicken

  • Chicken is nutritious, tasty and versatile: a very suitable match for today's busy consumer. Chicken (without the skin) is low in fat and high in protein. The flavor of chicken wonderfully complements a great variety of vegetables, fruits and grains. Dietitians have been encouraging people to eat more of these foods for years and for good reason. Chicken suits the tastes of even the most picky eaters and appeals to young and old alike, blending easily with such diverse leaves as cilantro and basil or fruits as different as apricots and tomatoes.
  • Trivia
  • Chickens raised for meat are not kept in cages and do not lay eggs.
  • Chickens are grain fed. Their feed consists of grain and a protein source (About 70% corn, wheat and occasionally, barley. About 30% is mainly protein, consisting of soybean meal and occasionally canola)
  • Chickens are free to roam, but usually prefer to stay in one area.
 

International Chicken Production
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), world chicken production was an estimated 71,851,372 tonnes in 2005, up 3% from the previous year. It is interesting to note that chicken production has been growing steadily worldwide since the early 1990s. This increase is attributable to a number of factors, including surging production in emerging markets such as Brazil and Thailand and greater demand in Western countries for high-protein, low-carbohydrate products.

In regional terms, most of the chicken meat is produced in Asia (32.2%), followed by North America (26.9%) and South and Central America (20.4%). Europe accounted for 15.9% of the production while Africa represented 4.5%. Since 1985, the South and Central America regions increased their share of World production by 7.6% mainly to the detriment of Europe and to a lesser extent of Africa.

 

Future Outlook of the Chicken Meat Market
According to the OECD Agricultural Outlook 2006-2015, consumers and retailers will continue to increase their demand for a broader diversity and higher quality of meat.

Impact of the avian influenza - Between December 2003 and February 2004, avian influenza outbreaks caused by the H5N1 virus were reported in eight Asian nations. In matter of some months it then moved westward into some countries in Europe, the Middle-East and Africa. The potential impact of animal diseases, like AI, on chicken can have negative impact on demand due to decrease in consumption, price volatility, as well as decreases in supply in the form of culled stocks.

Impact of Improved Living Standards - Another factor that will have a major impact on the future trends of chicken consumption and production is the rapid development and industrialization of countries in Asia and Africa. Income and population growth as well as demographic changes, urbanization and healthier lifestyle changes in these regions will ultimately increase the demand for chicken and chicken products.

Chicken Industry in India
Chicken production is one of the fastest growing segments of the poultry sector in India today. India is the ninth largest producer of poultry meat in the world, producing about 1,715,000 Metric ton of poultry meat in 2004.

While the production of agricultural crops has been rising at a rate of 1.5 to 2 percent per annum, that of eggs and broilers has been rising at a rate of 8 to 10 percent per annum. As a result, India is now the world's fifth largest egg producer and the eighteenth largest producer of broilers. Driving this expansion are a combination of factors - growth in per capita income, a growing urban population and falling real poultry prices.

Nutritional Aspect of Chicken
Not only is it economical compared to other meats, chicken is also versatile. Chicken is a significant source of daily requirements of protein, niacin, B-6, B-12, vitamin D, iron and zinc. One can roast it, fry it, barbeque it, sauté it, microwave it, poach it, or even find it pre-cooked, rotisserie or deli style, ready to eat.

Whether you count carbohydrates, fat grams, calories, points, your hard-earned pennies, or your blessings, chicken is a simple, smart choice for healthy meals.

A 150-g portion is a rich source of protein and niacin; a good source of copper and selenium; a source of iron and vitamins B1, B2, and B6. There are differences between the white (breast) and dark (leg) meat, the former being lower in fat but also lower in iron and vitamin B2. Of a 150-g portion of boiled chicken, the white meat supplies 0.9 mg of iron, 0.09 mg of vitamin B1, 0.18 mg of vitamin B2, 7.5 g of fat, of which one-third is saturated; the dark meat supplies 3.8 mg of iron, 0.1 mg of vitamin B1, 0.4 mg of vitamin B2, 15 g of fat, of which one-third is saturated.

Popular Chicken Dishes

  • Chicken A' La King - This is a rich chicken dish that uses lots of cream with pimentos and sherry. It is served either on hot buttered toast, pastry shells, or in a nest of noodles. There are several stories/legends as to who created this dish.
  • Chicken Booyah - A super “stick to your ribs” soup-stew made with chicken. While chicken soup is universal and variations of this dish can be found in many cultures world wide, northeastern Wisconsin is the only place in the world where Chicken Booyah is found. It is a favorite at the many festivals, church picnics, bazaars, and any other large gathering in the northeast part of Wisconsin. This chicken soup is typically made in large 10 or 20-gallon batches, cooked outdoors over a wood fire, and worked on by several people at once. Restaurants have their own special recipe. Booyah is lovingly called “Belgian Penicillin.”
  • Chicken Cacciatora Cacciatore means “hunter’s style.”   This dish developed in central Italy and has many variations. It is considered a country-style dish in which chicken pieces are simmered together with tomatoes and mushrooms.
  • The dish originated in the Renaissance period (1450-1600) when the only people who could afford to enjoy poultry and the sport of hunting were the well-to-do, This dish developed in central Italy and has many variations.
  • Chicken Divan - A chicken casserole dish with broccoli and mornay or hollandaise sauce.
  • Chicken Kiev (kee-EHV) -   A boned and flattened chicken breast that is then rolled around a chilled piece of herbed butter. It is then breaded and fried. This poultry dish is also called "Chicken Supreme."
  • Chicken MarengoOriginally made with crayfish and chicken. Today, the crayfish is usually left out. Chicken Marengo today is chicken cut into pieces, browned in oil, and then cooked slowly with peeled tomatoes, crushed garlic, parsley, white wine and cognac, seasoned with crushed pepper and served with fried eggs on the side (with or without crayfish, also on the side) and toast or croutons, doubling as Dunand's army bread.
  • Country Captain Chicken A curried chicken dish. The chicken is browned and then stewed in a sauce of tomatoes, onion, garlic, and curry powder. At the end, golden raisins are added. The dish is served over rice sprinkled with toasted almonds.
  • General Tso's Chicken - Fried boneless dark-meat chicken, served with vegetables and whole dried red peppers in a sweet-spicy sauce. It's not authentically Chinese, but it's nevertheless one of the most popular dishes at Chinese restaurants.
 
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