Tucked in between St. Patrick’s Day and the first day of Spring, is the little known holiday called National Poultry Day, which is celebrated on March 19th. To kick it off, let’s give you some further information about our feathered barnyard friends.
It is believed that chicken was introduced to American soil by the European explorers in the 16th century. Chicken consumption in the United States increased during World War II due to a shortage of beef and pork.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees the poultry production in the United States. The American Poultry Association recognizes 65 different breeds of chicken. This list does not include the most populous breed of chicken, the Cobb 500. The Cobb 500 is the breed of chicken used by many commercial chicken meat producers. Estimates place production at around 9 billion chickens in the United States. Here is a list of chicken breeds, https://poultrykeeper.com/chicken-breeds/. Chicken and turkey are also lower in fats and cholesterol than other meats.
Is Fowl the same as Poultry?
Colloquially, fowl and poultry are used interchangeably. However, fowl comprises of two biological orders of birds, land fowl (eg. chicken, quail and pheasant)and waterfowl (eg. duck, goose and swan). Studies have shown that both of them are close evolutionary relatives.
Poultry, on the other hand refers to any domesticated bird raised for meat or/and eggs.
Due to this difference in actual definition, however, there is no general relation between the two. Neither are all poultry birds fowl, nor do all fowl birds fall into the category of poultry.
For example, poultry birds like chicken and turkey fall into the category of land fowl, while those like geese and duck fall into the category of waterfowl. But ostriches, sometimes domesticated for their eggs, are neither land fowl nor waterfowl; in short, ostriches aren’t fowl.
What are the different types of poultry?
Many different breeds of chickens have been developed for different purposes. For simplicity, you can place them into three general categories: Laying, meat-producing and dual-purpose breeds.
These breeds are known for their egg-laying capacity. Popular laying breeds include the White Leghorn, Red Sex Link and Black Sex Link breeds. A healthy hen will lay eggs for several years. Hens begin to lay at approximately 16–20 weeks of age and will lay between 20–23 dozen eggs the first year. At 14 months, laying hens usually begin to molt, the process by which they drop their old feathers and grow new ones. No eggs are laid during this period. After molting, hens will lay larger but fewer eggs per year (about 16–18 dozen).
Meat-producing breeds are very efficient at converting feed to meat, producing approximately one pound of bodyweight for every two pounds of feed they eat. A popular meat-producing breed is the Cornish breed. The Cornish game hen is a cross between the Cornish and the New Hampshire or Plymouth Rock breeds. Meat-producing chickens are broad breasted and larger than the laying breeds. They grow and feather rapidly and will weigh five pounds or more at eight weeks. Broilers and fryers are butchered at 31/2 to 5 pounds, while a roaster is butchered at 6 to 8 pounds.
The dual-purpose breed is the classic backyard chicken. These breeds are hardy, self-reliant and fairly large bodied. Most lay large brown-shelled eggs. Examples include Rhode Island Red and New Hampshire breeds. Some laying and dual-purpose hens tend to get broody, which means they will want to sit on and hatch eggs. Because broody hens don’t lay eggs, egg production will be affected. Consult with your local extension agent or other poultry experts to help you choose the right breeds.
Turkeys, Game Birds and Other Poultry
Turkeys, geese, ducks and pheasants are often raised as pets or for their egg and meat-producing qualities. They also can make terrific projects for children to learn responsibility and animal husbandry skills.
Should we have Chicken tonight?
Poultry can be cooked in many different ways including roasting, baking, frying, grilling, sautéing, steaming and broasting. Here are a few chicken dishes that have an extensive history and that we have come to love.
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. It is said to be created by the chef at the Delmonico restaurant in the 1880s after Foxhall P. Keene, horse breeder and known as “Silver Fox of Wall Street.” Supposedly Foxhall dreamed aloud to him about a pimento-studded cream sauce. The chef made the dish and called it Chicken a’ la Keene. This later evolved into the more regal-sounding Chicken a’ la King. Charles Ranhofer, a French chef, was the chef at Delmonico’s from 1862 to 1896.
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 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.
A chicken casserole dish with broccoli and mornay or hollandaise sauce.
Chicken Divan was the signature dish of a 1950s New York restaurant, the Divan Parisienne. In English, the word “divan” came to mean sofa, from the council chamber’s benches. In France, it meant a meeting place or great hall. It was this meaning that attracted the notice of the owners of the New York restaurant as they searched for a name that would imply continental elegance.
If you are tired of the traditional fried chicken or chicken soup, try your cooking talent with some great recipes from Midwest Living. http://www.midwestliving.com/food/chicken/favorite-chicken-recipes/
There are so many things that we didn’t touch on in this article, one of which is how to raise your own little flock. Chickens can also make great pets when they aren’t laying eggs. Most breeds are very docile and love to be picked up and petted.