The Darag chicken is native to the islands of Panay, Guimaras and Negros in the Philippines. Its wild ancestor is the red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus) which is pervasive in Southeast Asia. Other similar fowl species that are still in existence are the Ceylones jungle fowl (Gallus layette), black or green jungle fowl (Gallus various), and the gray jungle fowl (Gallus sonnerati). The modern Darag, or the hen, has a yellowish-brown colour. The rooster, which is often called Alimbuyog, has red and black colours. Once it matures, the female Darag can weigh up to an average of one kilogram while males can be as heavy as 1.3 kilograms.
As commercialization of the animal production sector increases, native stocks are continuously upgraded (hybridization with foreign breed) for mass production to meet the food demand of the population. It has been observed that diversity in the country’s native chicken species is declining due to hybridization and replacement of traditional stock. Another threat is the high demand from Fast-food chains. Traditionally, the authentic chicken inasal, a Filipino way to prepare this meat, uses native chicken, but are now often found made with 21-day-old chickens grown at an industrial scale. The Darag chicken faces the danger of extinction.
When cooked, Darag chicken meat produces a distinct flavour. Its meat texture is also preferred than its commercial counterparts because it is leaner. Though it is less plumpy, the taste is more flavourful. Research and studies also showed that the Darag’s meat has less fat, is high in potassium and protein, and more unsaturated fatty acids. Because of its nutritional value, Darag chicken dishes are often served to lactating mothers.
Darag chicken meat is best used in cooking Tinola (a chicken soup with chili leaves and green papaya), Chicken Inasal (barbecued chicken done the local way), Litson Manok (roasted chicken), and Tinu-om na Manok (native chicken seasoned with tomatoes, onions, and lemon grass wrapped in banana leaves and steamed).