Many people are not familiar with the different types of chickens used in making chicken essence. With the options of old hens, young roosters, and black-bone chickens, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. In fact, besides the type of chicken, there are other subtle factors that greatly affect the quality of chicken essence!
1) Chicken farming method
Free-range chickens have the freedom to explore the outdoors, exercise, take sand baths, and bask in the sun, satisfying their natural instincts. Therefore, many people believe that free-range is the best chicken farming method.
Although free-range can provide chickens with sufficient exercise, they are also more susceptible to virus infections, such as leptospirosis.
Indoor farming (cage-free)
Actually, if the conditions are appropriate, the meat quality of cage-free chickens can be just as good as free-range chickens. Some people confuse cage-free with caged farming, but in fact, they are completely different farming methods.
The free-range chicken used in Yu's Organic Fresh Chicken Essence is raised using organic cage-free farming. Each chicken is raised in an indoor organic farm where there is ample space for exercise. The farm uses intelligent lighting systems to simulate day and night changes. Classical music is also played in the farm, creating a peaceful environment for the chickens.
The farm also has a ventilation system that expels dust and odors while bringing in fresh air, keeping the indoor space cool and the air clean without harmful viruses.
This arrangement not only ensures better meat quality but also takes into account the welfare of the animals.
In caged farming, chickens are confined in small cages and raised in a dense manner, with only the space of an A4 paper. The cramped farming space prevents chickens from running, jumping, stretching their wings, and preening their feathers. Chickens are unable to display their natural instincts and may even trample each other to death due to the cramped environment.
Some farms even trim the beaks of hens to prevent pecking, causing immense physical and psychological stress to the chickens. The poor farming environment makes the chickens physically and mentally unhealthy, and more drugs are needed for care, prevention, and treatment.
The European Food Safety Authority conducted a study in 2007 across 5,665 chicken farms in 25 countries and found that cage-produced eggs (eggs produced by chickens kept in cages) had a 33 times higher risk of Salmonella infection compared to non-cage-produced eggs.
The US Department of Agriculture found that keeping hens in cages for their entire lives can cause stress, making the hens more susceptible to disease and resulting in diseased eggs.
II. Organic Certification
As mentioned above, different rearing methods have a direct impact on animal welfare and meat quality. So, how can we tell how the chickens were raised? Do we need to spend an hour in front of the shelves? No, there is a way – just look for the organic certification.
In Switzerland, there are three main types of chicken rearing methods for consumers to choose from:
1. Organic Bio (starts with the number 0): chickens are fed organic feed, and the size of indoor and outdoor activity spaces is regulated. The indoor activity space for each chicken must be at least 0.2 square meters, the sunroom (Wintergarten, an indoor space with fresh air and natural light) should be 0.1 square meters, and the outdoor space should be 5 square meters.
2. Free-range Freilandhaltung (starts with the number 1): indoor and outdoor spaces are half organic rearing, and there must be daily outdoor activity time.
3. Floor-housed Bodenhaltung (starts with the number 2): indoor rearing, and each chicken has an activity space of 0.1 square meters and must have perches to satisfy their natural tendency to perch high.
Therefore, anyone holding a valid organic certification cannot rear chickens in cages. This is one of the simplest and most efficient exclusion methods.
Of course, the "organic" label must be traceable, i.e., the organization that issued the organic label must be clearly stated, rather than sellers claiming their products are organic or sticking organic stickers on products themselves.
III. Use of Medications
First, we need to understand why chicken farmers give antibiotics to chickens.
In 1951, the US chicken industry discovered that adding antibiotics to feed could save a considerable amount of feed costs. Chickens fed with feed containing antibiotics grow quickly, have a high sales rate, and thus generate more profits.
Professor Burt, who conducted this research at the University of Wisconsin in the US, said that when increasing the amount of antibiotics fed, natural antifungal substances in the chicken's intestines will rapidly multiply, thereby resisting various diseases and making the chickens grow even faster.
However, what about the health of consumers? Of course, this is not a consideration for some chicken farmers.
Four) Factory specifications for chicken essence extraction
The last point is the factory specifications.
Long-term excessive use of antibiotics in chickens may produce "antibiotic-resistant bacteria" in the chicken's body. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria can affect our intestinal flora.
Therefore, although chicken meat is rich in nutrients, as long as we eat the wrong chicken, our health can be compromised in minutes.