Saturday, May 18Food Security Matters

Why Philippine Native Chickens are More Expensive than Commercial Broilers

The Philippine Native Chickens, often simply referred to as “native chicken”  are breeds of domestic chicken indigenous to the Philippines. These chickens are an integral part of the country’s culinary and cultural heritage. They are distinct from commercial broiler breeds in several ways.

  1. Heritage and Varieties: Philippine native chickens come in various indigenous varieties, each with unique characteristics in terms of size, color, and plumage. Some well-known native chicken varieties include Banaba, Bolinao, and Bisaya.
  2. Slow Growth: Native chickens have a slower growth rate compared to commercial broilers. It takes them a longer time to reach market weight, which results in firmer meat and a deeper, more robust flavor.
  3. Cultural Significance: These chickens are deeply embedded in Filipino culture and cuisine. They are a staple ingredient in traditional dishes such as “adobo,” “tinola,” and “sinampalukan,” and are commonly used in celebrations and feasts.
  4. Free-Range Farming: Many native chickens are raised in a free-range or semi-free-range environment, allowing them to forage and consume a more natural diet. This contributes to the unique taste and texture of their meat.
  5. Market Demand: Due to their cultural significance and distinct flavor, native chickens are often preferred for special occasions and local festivities. As a result, they can be more expensive compared to commercial broilers.
  6. Conservation Efforts: Recognizing the importance of preserving native chicken breeds and the biodiversity they represent, there have been efforts to conserve and promote their sustainable production.

Philippine Native Chickens are more than just a source of food; they represent a rich tapestry of tradition, flavor, and cultural identity in the Philippines.

philippine native chicken darag
Darag native chickens

Why Philippine Native Chickens are More Expensive than Commercial Broilers

Philippine native chickens are generally more expensive than commercial broilers for several reasons. As of October 2023, the price of native chicken per kilo here in Tanauan City, Batangas is from P250 to as high as P350, while the highest broiler price is P180. The following are the reasons why native chickens are more expensive than broilers.

  1. Slow Growth Rate: Native chickens typically have a slower growth rate compared to commercial broilers. They take longer to reach market weight, which means they require more feed and care over a longer period before they can be sold. This extended rearing period increases the cost of production.
  2. Lower Meat Yield: Native chickens have a lower meat-to-bone ratio compared to commercial broilers. This means that a higher percentage of their body weight consists of bones, which reduces the amount of edible meat obtained from each chicken. In contrast, commercial broilers are bred for maximum meat production.
  3. Heritage and Local Demand: Philippine native chickens are often considered a delicacy and are preferred for traditional and regional dishes. Their heritage status and unique flavor make them desirable for certain culinary applications, leading to higher market demand and, consequently, higher prices.
  4. Free-Range and Organic Farming: Many native chickens are raised under free-range or organic farming practices, which involve providing them with more space, natural feed, and reduced use of chemicals. These methods tend to be more labor-intensive and have higher production costs compared to the intensive and controlled environments in which commercial broilers are raised.
  5. Limited Supply: Native chicken breeds in the Philippines are not as commonly bred as commercial broiler breeds. As a result, there is often limited availability of native chickens in the market, which can drive up their prices due to increased demand and relative scarcity.
  6. Longer Breeding Cycles: Native chickens are often bred naturally, which means longer breeding cycles and less controlled reproduction compared to the highly efficient and controlled breeding methods used in the commercial broiler industry. This can lead to irregular supply and higher costs.
  7. Smaller Scale Farming: Many native chicken production operations are small-scale and family-run, which can result in higher production costs per bird due to economies of scale not being realized. Commercial broiler production, on the other hand, often benefits from larger, more industrial-scale operations.
  8. Local Variation: The cost and price of native chickens can vary depending on the specific region in the Philippines. Factors such as local demand, farming practices, and availability of resources can influence the pricing.

The higher cost of Philippine native chickens compared to commercial broilers is primarily due to their slower growth rate, lower meat yield, unique flavor, and the cost of free-range or organic farming. While native chickens are more expensive, they have their own market niche and are often sought after for their taste and cultural significance in various dishes.

What Do Native Chickens Eat

The Philippine native chickens, like other domestic chicken breeds, have dietary requirements that are relatively straightforward. Their diet can consist of a combination of grains, seeds, protein sources, vegetables, and access to clean water. Here’s a breakdown of what native chickens typically eat:

  1. Grains and Seeds: A significant portion of their diet consists of grains such as corn, rice, wheat, barley, and oats. These grains provide carbohydrates and energy.
  2. Protein Sources: Native chickens require protein for growth and egg production. They can get protein from sources like:
    • Commercial Poultry Feed: Many chicken keepers provide commercial poultry feeds formulated to meet the dietary needs of chickens. These feeds are typically available in starter, grower, layer, and broiler formulations.
    • Insects and Worms: Native chickens are often excellent foragers, and they can find insects, worms, and small invertebrates in their natural environment.
    • Legumes: Legumes like soybeans or lentils can be included in their diet for added protein.
  3. Vegetables and Greens: Native chickens benefit from a variety of vegetables and greens like lettuce, spinach, kale, and kitchen scraps. These provide essential vitamins and minerals.
  4. Fruits: Some fruits, like apples, berries, and melons, can be given as treats or supplements to their diet. These provide additional nutrients and hydration.
  5. Grit: Chickens need grit, small, hard particles like small stones or oyster shells, to help them digest their food, especially grains. Grit is typically available free-choice to chickens.
  6. Clean Water: Access to clean, fresh water is crucial for all chickens. They need water for digestion, temperature regulation, and overall health.

It’s important to ensure that the diet is well-balanced and provides all the essential nutrients. Depending on the specific stage of life (e.g., chicks, growers, layers) and individual health needs, the composition of the diet may vary. Commercial poultry feed is designed to meet these specific requirements, making it a convenient option for many chicken keepers. Additionally, providing free-range access allows native chickens to supplement their diet with insects and foraged plants, contributing to their natural and healthy growth.

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