Chickens

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 named 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 is usually ready to lay her first eggs when she is around six months old. She lays different colors of eggs (white, tinted, brown, chocolate, blue or green) according to the breed of the hen. Young chickens are called Chicks and they start moving, eating and scratching the ground shortly after hatching from the egg. The chicken usually has a comb on the head and two wattles under the neck (some types possess beard, muffs, tufts and/or crests).

     Roosters can usually 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 females of the same breed. However, there are other chicken breeds in which roosters have hen feathering or much similarities with the hens like  Sebrights or Campines.

     Chickens usually eat seeds, grains, insects, worms, snails, slugs, fruits, vegetables and many other foods. 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 Cochins and Silkies 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

     There are also Bantams (miniature chickens) which usually are one-fifth to one-third the size of the standard breed, but they are expected to exhibit all of the standard breed’s characteristics. True Bantams (chickens that have no large counterparts, are naturally small and are used mainly for show purposes) also do exist.

     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. Expected common chicken predators are Hawks, Bobcats, Snakes, Skunks, Owls, Raccoons, Foxes and Opossums.

 

Gauloise Dorée Chickens
Gauloise Dorée Chickens by Joris Egger
A rooster
A Brahma rooster
An Appenzeller Spitzhauben pullet - Chickens
An Appenzeller Spitzhauben pullet
Chickens
A hen with her chicks by Rahimah Abd Jalil
Bantams
Two bantam cocks in a fight by mark lorch

 

Breeds