Salvadoreño Chickens

Local free range chickens.

Chickens are everywhere in Latin America. Literally, they’re running amok in nearly everyone’s backyards, streets, and trash piles in rural places everywhere. They’re a little more contained in the city, but still the rooster on the other side of our complejo wall crows religiously at dawn…and several times before and after dawn as well! However, cows and pigs are the dominant livestock in El Salvador. The cattle are neither specifically for meat nor milk, but used for both, locally called “criollo.”

Open air meat market, typical of Central America.

That means neither very good cow meat nor very good milk is produced, but at least the cow does both. Most of these cows are slaughtered at uncertified, uninspected, and largely unsanitary local slaughterhouses located around the country. There are about one hundred of them, which is quite a few for a country the size of Massachusetts (the state of Massachusetts, by the way, has only two slaughterhouses). This means that the meat from these slaughterhouses cannot be “officially” sold. It certainly cannot be exported. But it definitely is still sold at markets around El Salvador, both the “open-air” type markets and more traditional supermarkets.

The poultry industry in El Salvador is generally quite efficiently run, and a roughly equal mix of large-scale commercial operations and small-scale family farms. The former are on the rise, however, as the number of Pollo Campero and Pollo Indio fast food restaurants multiple across the country. There are a handful of chicken processing plants located mostly in the largest cities in El Salvador, and most of them are fully certified and inspected, and process meat not just for local consumption, but also for export. These avicolas process live birds and package them for shipping to places as close as Guatemala and Honduras, or as far as China and Vietnam. The information is scarce for chicken (broiler) production in El Salvador, and I have not met anyone who has a chicken farm of the industrial type, or otherwise. I have seen one warehouse-style chicken “factory” near to the Guatemalan border; it was about half as large as the typical broiler house in the States (which are around 20,000 square feet). The sides also only had chicken wire instead of being fully enclosed. I imagine that this was not only cheaper, but better for the hot climate, as walls are quite unnecessary. I have found several reports of a scattering of NGOs giving loans or gifts to impoverished families (or, more often, women) in the form of chickens and materials to construct enclosures for chickens as well as the education of how to care for them properly. These loans were all intended not just for subsistence farming, but for the persons benefiting from the loan to become small business owners, selling their chickens (or eggs) to neighbors.

Fried Chicken Salad

I have not had the chance to visit the farm where my chickens live their lives before ending up on my dinner plate, but I have been told that they lived good lives. They are gallina indias – wild chickens, more or less. They roam freely, scratching at the ground as chickens were meant to do. They are fed some grain, but only pure grain – no rendered animal products, and nothing with hormones or antibiotics. I am taking this all at face value, until I can actually get to the farm and see for myself. Then I will be even happier eating my delicious fried chicken salad. (Yes! Fried! Yes! Salad!)

The following is a list of poultry processing facilities in El Salvador:

  1. AVÍCOLA LOMA LINDA, San Miguel
  2. AVÍCOLA SAN ANTONIO, San Salvador
  3. AVÍCOLA SAN RAMÓN, San Miguel
  4. AVÍCOLAS LAS ILUSIONES, Ahuachapán
  5. AVITECNIA SALVADOREÑA, San Salvador
  6. EL GRANJERO, San Salvador
  7. EMPRESAS INDUSTRIALES SAN BENITO, San Salvador, Soyapango
  8. GRANJA EL CAPO, La Paz
  9. GRANJA EL ROBLE, San Salvador
  10. GRANJA MIGUELEÑA, San Miguel
  11. GRANJA SAN ANTONIO, Santa Ana
  12. GRANJA SAN JOSÉ, Santa Ana
  13. GRANJA SANTA MARÍA, Santa Ana
  14. INCUBADORA SALVADOREÑA, San Salvador, Soyapango
  15. TECNIAVES, La Libertad
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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Martin A. K. says:

    Very interesting post! But for me, one farm in Santa Ana would already be one to many, and too many people here have chicken anyway…this and gun shots is what keeps from sleeping very often (just felt like complaining)! And thanks for the advice on cows, never knew this, but now I know to stay away from it. What would nice thought is fresh milk, something I miss from my hometown!

  2. I will try to investigate more dairy farmers that are “doing things right” in El Salvador & I’ll post when I have some findings!! Thanks for reading!

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