Chicken’s History

     The Chicken is a type of domesticated fowls, which is a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl. It’s one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, that are kept by humans primarily as a source of food, consuming both their meat and eggs. Chickens are birds with a very long history, and DNA analysis of chicken bones found near China suggests that they date back to ∼10,000 years, and domestication started perhaps 5,000 years ago. First, they were being used in cockfighting sports, before being used as sources of food. After centuries of selection and breeding for numerous extremes, chickens now exist in many colors, sizes and shapes.


Chicken’s Characteristics

     The male chicken (‘Cock’ or ‘Rooster’, and has the name ‘Cockerel’ when he is less than one-year-old) is larger and more brightly colored than the female chicken (‘Hen’ and named ‘Pullet’ when she is less than one-year-old). The hen usually lays her first eggs when she is around six months old. And she lays different colors of eggs (white, tinted, brown, chocolate, blue or green) according to her breed. Young chickens (Chicks) start moving, eating and scratching the ground, shortly after they hatch from the eggs. Also, chickens usually have a comb on the head and two wattles under the neck (some types possess beard, muffs, tufts and/or crests).

     Roosters can be differentiated from hens by their striking appearance, and bright colors. They have long flowing tails and shiny, pointed feathers on their hackles and saddle, which are typically of brighter and bolder colors than those of the females. However, there are some chicken breeds in which roosters have hen feathering or somehow have much similarities with the hens like; the  Sebright and the Campine.

     Chickens usually eat seeds, grains, insects, worms, snails, slugs, fruits, vegetables and other materials. The gizzard which is a part of the stomach contains tiny stones to help grind up the food. Chickens are also very social birds that live in flocks governed by dominant individuals that have priority for food access and nesting locations.

     Although, all hens lay eggs, not all chicken breeds go broody or prefer to do so. However, there are some breeds like the Cochin and the Silkie, that do and regularly go broody. Broody hens will stop laying, and instead will focus on the incubation of the eggs (a full clutch is usually about 12 eggs) for about 21 days.


Chicken Varieties

     Chickens do have various sizes and shapes, not only in different breeds, but also in the same breed as well. An example for that is the ‘Bantams’ (miniature chickens), that are usually one-fifth to one-third the size of the standard breed. They are expected to exhibit all of the standard breed’s characteristics as well. ‘True Bantams’ (which are chicken breeds that have no large counterparts, are naturally small and are used mainly for show purposes) also do exist, which are raised mainly as pets.

     There are approximately more than 200 species of domestic chickens grouped into categories, each category holds a number of chickens with similar characteristics according to the followed standards around the world. Chickens are also a common prey for a number of predators such as; Hawks, Bobcats, Snakes, Skunks, Owls, Raccoons, Foxes and Opossums.


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The Red Jungle rooster by Melvin Yap
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An Appenzeller Spitzhauben pullet
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Two hens and a rooster
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A mother hen with her chicks by Philip Morris
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A Barbu d'Uccle bantam rooster by Tim Miller