Chicken

Chicken

Overview
The chicken is a domesticated
Domestication
Domestication or taming is the process whereby a population of animals or plants, through a process of selection, becomes accustomed to human provision and control. In the Convention on Biological Diversity a domesticated species is defined as a 'species in which the evolutionary process has been...

 fowl
Fowl
Fowl is a word for birds in general but usually refers to birds belonging to one of two biological orders, namely the gamefowl or landfowl and the waterfowl...

, a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl
Red Junglefowl
The Red Junglefowl is a tropical member of the Pheasant family. They are thought to be ancestors of the domestic chicken with some hybridisation with the Grey Junglefowl...

. As one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, and with a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

. Humans keep chickens primarily as a source of food, consuming both their meat
Chicken (food)
Chicken is the most common type of poultry in the world, and is prepared as food in a wide variety of ways, varying by region and culture.- History :...

 and their eggs
Egg (food)
Eggs are laid by females of many different species, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, and have probably been eaten by mankind for millennia. Bird and reptile eggs consist of a protective eggshell, albumen , and vitellus , contained within various thin membranes...

.

The traditional poultry farming view of the domestication of the chicken is stated in Encyclopaedia Britannica (2007): "Humans first domesticated chickens of Indian
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 origin for the purpose of cockfighting in Asia, Africa, and Europe.
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Encyclopedia
The chicken is a domesticated
Domestication
Domestication or taming is the process whereby a population of animals or plants, through a process of selection, becomes accustomed to human provision and control. In the Convention on Biological Diversity a domesticated species is defined as a 'species in which the evolutionary process has been...

 fowl
Fowl
Fowl is a word for birds in general but usually refers to birds belonging to one of two biological orders, namely the gamefowl or landfowl and the waterfowl...

, a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl
Red Junglefowl
The Red Junglefowl is a tropical member of the Pheasant family. They are thought to be ancestors of the domestic chicken with some hybridisation with the Grey Junglefowl...

. As one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, and with a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

. Humans keep chickens primarily as a source of food, consuming both their meat
Chicken (food)
Chicken is the most common type of poultry in the world, and is prepared as food in a wide variety of ways, varying by region and culture.- History :...

 and their eggs
Egg (food)
Eggs are laid by females of many different species, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, and have probably been eaten by mankind for millennia. Bird and reptile eggs consist of a protective eggshell, albumen , and vitellus , contained within various thin membranes...

.

The traditional poultry farming view of the domestication of the chicken is stated in Encyclopaedia Britannica (2007): "Humans first domesticated chickens of Indian
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 origin for the purpose of cockfighting in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Very little formal attention was given to egg or meat production... " Recent genetic studies have pointed to multiple maternal origins in Southeast, East, and South Asia, but with the clade
Clade
A clade is a group consisting of a species and all its descendants. In the terms of biological systematics, a clade is a single "branch" on the "tree of life". The idea that such a "natural group" of organisms should be grouped together and given a taxonomic name is central to biological...

 found in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa originating in the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

. From India the domesticated fowl made its way to the Persianized kingdom of Lydia
Lydia
Lydia was an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the modern Turkish provinces of Manisa and inland İzmir. Its population spoke an Anatolian language known as Lydian....

 in western Asia Minor, and domestic fowl were imported to Greece by the fifth century BC. Fowl had been known in Egypt since the 18th Dynasty
Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt
The eighteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt is perhaps the best known of all the dynasties of ancient Egypt...

, with the "bird that lays every day" having come to Egypt from the land between Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and Shinar, Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

, according to the annals of Tutmose III.

Terminology


In the UK, Ireland and Australia adult male chickens over the age of 12 months are primarily known as cocks, whereas in America and Canada they are more commonly called rooster
Rooster
A rooster, also known as a cockerel, cock or chanticleer, is a male chicken with the female being called a hen. Immature male chickens of less than a year's age are called cockerels...

s
. Males under a year old are cockerels. Castrated
Castration
Castration is any action, surgical, chemical, or otherwise, by which a male loses the functions of the testicles or a female loses the functions of the ovaries.-Humans:...

 roosters are called capon
Capon
A capon is a rooster that has been castrated to improve the quality of its flesh for food.-History:The Romans are credited with inventing the capon. The Lex Faunia of 162 BC forbade fattening hens in order to conserve grain rations. In order to get around this the Romans castrated roosters, which...

s
(surgical and chemical castration are now illegal in some parts of the world). Females over a year old are known as hens, and younger females are pullets. In Australia and New Zealand (also sometimes in Britain), there is a generic term chook (icon) to describe all ages and both sexes. Babies are called chicks, and the meat is called chicken.

"Chicken" originally referred to chicks, not the species itself. The species as a whole was then called domestic fowl, or just fowl. This use of "chicken" survives in the phrase "Hen and Chickens", sometimes used as a British public house
Public house
A public house, informally known as a pub, is a drinking establishment fundamental to the culture of Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. There are approximately 53,500 public houses in the United Kingdom. This number has been declining every year, so that nearly half of the smaller...

 or theatre
Theatre
Theatre is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance...

 name, and to name groups of one large and many small rocks or islands in the sea (see for example Hen and Chicken Islands
Hen and Chicken Islands
The Hen and Chickens Islands lie to the east of the North Auckland Peninsula off the coast of northern New Zealand. They are located to the east of Bream Head and southeast of Whangarei....

).

In the Deep South
Deep South
The Deep South is a descriptive category of the cultural and geographic subregions in the American South. Historically, it is differentiated from the "Upper South" as being the states which were most dependent on plantation type agriculture during the pre-Civil War period...

 of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 chickens are also referred to by the slang term yardbird
Yardbird
A yardbird is post-Second World War African American slang for "prisoner", from the notion of prison yards. During the Second World War, in the armed forces it meant "basic trainee", as they spent most of their time in the yards....

.

General biology and habitat


Chickens are omnivore
Omnivore
Omnivores are species that eat both plants and animals as their primary food source...

s. In the wild, they often scratch at the soil to search for seeds, insects and even larger animals such as lizard
Lizard
Lizards are a widespread group of squamate reptiles, with nearly 3800 species, ranging across all continents except Antarctica as well as most oceanic island chains...

s or young mice
MICE
-Fiction:*Mice , alien species in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy*The Mice -Acronyms:* "Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions", facilities terminology for events...

.
Chickens may live for five to ten years, depending on the breed
Breed
A breed is a group of domestic animals or plants with a homogeneous appearance, behavior, and other characteristics that distinguish it from other animals or plants of the same species. Despite the centrality of the idea of "breeds" to animal husbandry, there is no scientifically accepted...

. The world's oldest chicken, a hen, died of heart failure at the age of 16 according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Roosters can usually be differentiated from hens by their striking plumage of long flowing tails and shiny, pointed feathers on their necks (hackles) and backs (saddle) which are typically of brighter, bolder colors than those of females of the same species. However, in some breeds, such as the Sebright
Sebright (chicken)
The Sebright is a breed of chicken named after its developer, Sir John Saunders Sebright. The Sebright is one of the oldest recorded British 'true' bantam , created in the 19th century through a selective breeding program designed to produce an ornamental breed...

, the rooster has only slightly pointed neck feathers, the same color as the hen's. The identification must be made by looking at the comb
Comb (anatomy)
Anatomically, a comb is a fleshy growth, caruncle, or crest on the top of the head of gallinaceous birds, most notably turkeys, pheasants, and domestic chickens...

, or eventually from the development of spurs on the male's legs (in a few breeds and in certain hybrids the male and female chicks may be differentiated by color). Adult chickens have a fleshy crest on their heads called a comb or cockscomb
Comb (anatomy)
Anatomically, a comb is a fleshy growth, caruncle, or crest on the top of the head of gallinaceous birds, most notably turkeys, pheasants, and domestic chickens...

, and hanging flaps of skin either side under their beaks called wattles
Wattle (anatomy)
A wattle is a fleshy dewlap or caruncle hanging from various parts of the head or neck in several groups of birds, goats and other animals. In some birds the caruncle is erectile tissue.The wattle is frequently an organ of sexual dimorphism...

. Both the adult male and female have wattles and combs, but in most breeds these are more prominent in males.
A muff or beard is a mutation
Mutation
In molecular biology and genetics, mutations are changes in a genomic sequence: the DNA sequence of a cell's genome or the DNA or RNA sequence of a virus. They can be defined as sudden and spontaneous changes in the cell. Mutations are caused by radiation, viruses, transposons and mutagenic...

 found in several chicken breeds which causes extra feather
Feather
Feathers are one of the epidermal growths that form the distinctive outer covering, or plumage, on birds and some non-avian theropod dinosaurs. They are considered the most complex integumentary structures found in vertebrates, and indeed a premier example of a complex evolutionary novelty. They...

ing under the chicken's face, giving the appearance of a beard
Beard
A beard is the collection of hair that grows on the chin, cheeks and neck of human beings. Usually, only pubescent or adult males are able to grow beards. However, women with hirsutism may develop a beard...

.
Domestic chickens are not capable of long distance flight, although lighter birds are generally capable of flying for short distances, such as over fences or into trees (where they would naturally roost). Chickens may occasionally fly briefly to explore their surroundings, but generally do so only to flee perceived danger.

Chickens are gregarious
Social
The term social refers to a characteristic of living organisms...

 birds and live together in flock
Herd
Herd refers to a social grouping of certain animals of the same species, either wild or domestic, and also to the form of collective animal behavior associated with this or as a verb, to herd, to its control by another species such as humans or dogs.The term herd is generally applied to mammals,...

s. They have a communal approach to the incubation
Avian incubation
Incubation refers to the process by which certain oviparous animals hatch their eggs, and to the development of the embryo within the egg. The most vital factor of incubation is the constant temperature required for its development over a specific period. Especially in domestic fowl, the act of...

 of eggs and raising of young. Individual chickens in a flock will dominate others, establishing a "pecking order
Pecking order
Pecking order or just peck order is the colloquial term for a hierarchical system of social organization in chickens. It was first described from the behaviour of poultry by Thorleif Schjelderup-Ebbe in 1921 under the German terms Hackordnung or Hackliste' ...

", with dominant individuals having priority for food access and nesting locations. Removing hens or roosters from a flock causes a temporary disruption to this social order until a new pecking order is established. Adding hens—especially younger birds—to an existing flock can lead to violence and injury.

Hens will try to lay in nests that already contain eggs, and have been known to move eggs from neighboring nests into their own. Some farmers use fake eggs made from plastic or stone (or golf ball
Golf ball
A golf ball is a ball designed to be used in the game of golf.Under the Rules of Golf, a golf ball weighs no more than 1.620 oz , has a diameter not less than 1.680 in , and performs within specified velocity, distance, and symmetry limits...

s) to encourage hens to lay in a particular location. The result of this behavior is that a flock will use only a few preferred locations, rather than having a different nest for every bird.

Hens can also be extremely stubborn about always laying in the same location. It is not unknown for two (or more) hens to try to share the same nest at the same time. If the nest is small, or one of the hens is particularly determined, this may result in chickens trying to lay on top of each other.

Roosters crowing (a loud and sometimes shrill call) is a territorial signal to other roosters. However, crowing may also result from sudden disturbances within their surroundings. Hens cluck loudly after laying an egg, and also to call their chicks. Chickens also give a low "warning call" when they think they see a predator approaching.

In 2006, scientists researching the ancestry of birds "turned on" a chicken recessive gene, talpid2, and found that the embryo jaws initiated formation of teeth, like those found in ancient bird fossils. John Fallon, the overseer of the project, stated that chickens have "...retained the ability to make teeth, under certain conditions... ."

Food sharing and courting


When a rooster finds food, he may call other chickens to eat first. He does this by clucking in a high pitch as well as picking up and dropping the food. This behavior may also be observed in mother hens to call their chicks and encourage them to eat.

To initiate courting, some roosters may dance in a circle around or near a hen ("a circle dance"), often lowering his wing which is closest to the hen. The dance triggers a response in the hen's brain, and when the hen responds to his "call", the rooster may mount the hen and proceed with the fertilization.

Origins


The domestic chicken is descended primarily from the Red Junglefowl
Red Junglefowl
The Red Junglefowl is a tropical member of the Pheasant family. They are thought to be ancestors of the domestic chicken with some hybridisation with the Grey Junglefowl...

 (Gallus gallus) and is scientifically classified as the same species. As such it can and does freely interbreed with populations of red jungle fowl. Recent genetic analysis has revealed that at least the gene for yellow skin was incorporated into domestic birds through hybridization with the Grey Junglefowl
Grey Junglefowl
The Grey Junglefowl , also known as Sonnerat's Junglefowl, is a wild relative of domestic fowl that is endemic to India. This species is found mainly in peninsular India and where it overlaps with the distribution of the Red Junglefowl, it is known to form hybrids...

 (G. sonneratii). The traditional poultry farming view is stated in Encyclopaedia Britannica (2007): "Humans first domesticated chickens of Indian
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 origin for the purpose of cockfighting in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Very little formal attention was given to egg or meat production... " In the last decade there have been a number of genetic studies. According to one study, a single domestication event occurring in the region of modern Thailand created the modern chicken with minor transitions separating the modern breeds. However, that study was later found to be based on incomplete data, and recent studies point to multiple maternal origins, with the clade
Clade
A clade is a group consisting of a species and all its descendants. In the terms of biological systematics, a clade is a single "branch" on the "tree of life". The idea that such a "natural group" of organisms should be grouped together and given a taxonomic name is central to biological...

 found in the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Africa, originating from the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

, where a large number of unique haplotype
Haplotype
A haplotype in genetics is a combination of alleles at adjacent locations on the chromosome that are transmitted together...

s occur.

It has been claimed (based on paleoclimatic assumptions) that chickens were domesticated in Southern China in 6000 BC. However, according to a recent study, "it is not known whether these birds made much contribution to the modern domestic fowl. Chickens from the Harappan culture of the Indus Valley (2500-2100 BC), in what today is Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, may have been the main source of diffusion throughout the world."

A northern road spread chicken to the Tarim basin
Tarim Basin
The Tarim Basin is a large endorheic basin occupying an area of about . It is located in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China's far west. Its northern boundary is the Tian Shan mountain range and its southern is the Kunlun Mountains on the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The...

 of central Asia. The chicken reached Europe (Romania, Turkey, Greece, Ukraine) about 3000 BC.
Introduction into Western Europe came far later, about the 1st millennium BC. Phoenicians spread chickens along the Mediterranean coasts, to Iberia. Breeding increased under the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, and was reduced in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

.
Middle East traces of chicken go back to a little earlier than 2000 BC, in Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

; chicken went southward only in the 1st millennium BC. The chicken reached Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 for purposes of cock fighting about 1400 BC, and became widely bred only in Ptolemaic
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

 Egypt (about 300 BC). Little is known about the chicken's introduction into Africa. Three possible ways of introduction in about the early first millennium AD could have been through the Egyptian Nile Valley, the East Africa Roman-Greek or Indian trade, or from Carthage and the Berbers, across the Sahara. The earliest known remains are from Mali, Nubia, East Coast, and South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 and date back to the middle of the first millennium AD.
Domestic chicken in the Americas before Western conquest is still an ongoing discussion, but blue-egged chicken, found only in the Americas and Asia, suggest an Asian origin for early American chickens.

A lack of data from Thailand, Russia, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa makes it difficult to lay out a clear map of the spread of chickens in these areas; better description and genetic analysis of local breeds threatened by extinction
Extinction
In biology and ecology, extinction is the end of an organism or of a group of organisms , normally a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point...

 may also help with research into this area.

Current



Under natural conditions, most birds lay only until a clutch
Clutch (eggs)
A clutch of eggs refers to all the eggs produced by birds or reptiles, often at a single time, particularly those laid in a nest.In birds, destruction of a clutch by predators, , results in double-clutching...

 is complete, and they will then incubate all the eggs. Many domestic hens will also do this–and are then said to "go broody". The broody hen will stop laying and instead will focus on the incubation of the eggs (a full clutch is usually about 12 eggs). She will "sit" or "set" on the nest, protesting or pecking in defense if disturbed or removed, and she will rarely leave the nest to eat, drink, or dust-bathe. While brooding, the hen maintains the nest at a constant temperature and humidity, as well as turning the eggs regularly during the first part of the incubation. To stimulate broodiness, an owner may place many artificial eggs in the nest, or to stop it they may place the hen in an elevated cage with an open wire floor.

At the end of the incubation period (about 21 days), the eggs, if fertile, will hatch. Development of the egg starts only when incubation begins, so they all hatch within a day or two of each other, despite perhaps being laid over a period of two weeks or so. Before hatching, the hen can hear the chicks peeping inside the eggs, and will gently cluck to stimulate them to break out of their shells. The chick begins by "pipping"; pecking a breathing hole with its egg tooth
Egg tooth
In some egg-laying animals, the egg tooth is a small, sharp, cranial protuberance used by offspring to break or tear through the egg's surface during hatching...

 towards the blunt end of the egg, usually on the upper side. The chick will then rest for some hours, absorbing the remaining egg yolk and withdrawing the blood supply from the membrane beneath the shell (used earlier for breathing through the shell). It then enlarges the hole, gradually turning round as it goes, and eventually severing the blunt end of the shell completely to make a lid. It crawls out of the remaining shell, and its wet down dries out in the warmth of the nest.


The hen will usually stay on the nest for about two days after the first egg hatches, and during this time the newly hatched chicks live off the egg yolk they absorb just before hatching. Any eggs not fertilized by a rooster will not hatch, and the hen eventually loses interest in these and leaves the nest. After hatching, the hen fiercely guards the chicks, and will brood them when necessary to keep them warm, at first often returning to the nest at night. She leads them to food and water; she will call them to edible items, but seldom feeds them directly. She continues to care for them until they are several weeks old, when she will gradually lose interest and eventually start to lay again.

Modern egg-laying breeds rarely go broody, and those that do often stop part-way through the incubation. However, some "utility" (general purpose) breeds, such as the Cochin
Cochin (chicken)
The Cochin or Cochin China, originally known as the Chinese Shanghai, is a breed of chicken.The name Cochin came from the original Chinese name 九斤黄, meaning nine jin yellow, erroneously conflated with the then-current names for what are now parts of southern India and Vietnam, where jin is a...

, Cornish
Cornish (chicken)
The Cornish, known as the Indian Game in its native country of Cornwall in England, United Kingdom, is a breed of chicken. Cornish chickens, as well as crosses of Cornishes, are the most-used breed in the chicken meat industry...

 and Silkie, do regularly go broody, and they make excellent mothers, not only for chicken eggs but also for those of other species—even those with much smaller or larger eggs and different incubation periods, such as quail
Quail
Quail is a collective name for several genera of mid-sized birds generally considered in the order Galliformes. Old World quail are found in the family Phasianidae, while New World quail are found in the family Odontophoridae...

, pheasant
Pheasant
Pheasants refer to some members of the Phasianinae subfamily of Phasianidae in the order Galliformes.Pheasants are characterised by strong sexual dimorphism, males being highly ornate with bright colours and adornments such as wattles and long tails. Males are usually larger than females and have...

s, turkey
Turkey (bird)
A turkey is a large bird in the genus Meleagris. One species, Meleagris gallopavo, commonly known as the Wild Turkey, is native to the forests of North America. The domestic turkey is a descendant of this species...

s or geese
Goose
The word goose is the English name for a group of waterfowl, belonging to the family Anatidae. This family also includes swans, most of which are larger than true geese, and ducks, which are smaller....

. Chicken eggs can also be hatched under a broody duck, with varied success.

Poultry farming



More than 50 billion chickens are reared annually as a source of food, for both their meat and their eggs.

The vast majority of poultry are raised using intensive farming
Intensive farming
Intensive farming or intensive agriculture is an agricultural production system characterized by the high inputs of capital, labour, or heavy usage of technologies such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers relative to land area....

 techniques. According to the Worldwatch Institute
Worldwatch Institute
The Worldwatch Institute is a globally focused environmental research organization based in Washington, D.C. Worldwatch was named as one of the top ten sustainable development research organizations by Globescan Survey of Sustainability Experts.-Mission:...

, 74 percent of the world's poultry meat, and 68 percent of eggs are produced this way. One alternative to intensive poultry farming is free range farming.

Friction between these two main methods has led to long term issues of ethical consumerism. Opponents of intensive farming argue that it harms the environment, creates human health risks and is inhumane. Advocates of intensive farming say that their highly efficient systems save land and food resources due to increased productivity, stating that the animals are looked after in state-of-the-art environmentally controlled facilities.

In part due to the conditions on intensive poultry farms and recent recalls of large quantities of eggs, there is a growing movement for small scale micro-flocks or 'backyard chickens'. This involves keeping small numbers of hens (usually no more than a dozen), in suburban or urban residential areas to control bugs, utilize chicken waste as fertilizer in small gardens, and of course for the high-quality eggs and meat that are produced.

Chickens reared for meat



Chickens farmed for meat are called broiler
Broiler
A broiler is a type of chicken raised specifically for meat production. Modern commercial broilers, typically known as Cornish crosses or Cornish-Rocks are specially bred for large scale, efficient meat production and grow much faster than egg or traditional dual purpose breeds...

 chickens. Chickens will naturally live for 6 or more years, but broiler chickens typically take less than 6 weeks to reach slaughter size. A free range
Free range
thumb|250px|Free-range chickens being fed outdoors.Free range is a term which outside of the United States denotes a method of farming husbandry where the animals are allowed to roam freely instead of being contained in any manner. In the United States, USDA regulations apply only to poultry and...

 or organic meat chicken will usually be slaughtered at about 14 weeks of age.

Chickens reared for eggs


Chickens farmed for eggs are called egg-laying hens. In total, the UK alone consumes over 29 million eggs per day. Some hen breeds can produce over 300 eggs per year. After 12 months of laying, the commercial hen's egg-laying ability starts to decline to the point where the flock is unviable. Hens, particularly from battery cage
Battery cage
In poultry farming, battery cages are an industrial agricultural confinement system used primarily for egg-laying hens...

 systems, are sometimes infirm, have lost a significant amount of their feathers, and their life expectancy has been reduced from around 7 years to less than 2 years. In the UK and Europe, laying hens are then slaughtered and used in processed foods, or sold as "soup hens". In some other countries, flocks are sometimes force moulted
Forced molting
Induced molting is the practice by the commercial egg industry of artificially provoking a complete flock of hens to molt simultaneously. During the molting period, the hens go out of production for a period of at least two weeks. This has the effect of allowing the hen's reproductive tracts to...

, rather than being slaughtered, to reinvigorate egg-laying. This involves complete withdrawal of food (and sometimes water) for 7-14 days or sufficiently long to cause a body weight loss of 25 to 35%, or up to 28 days under experimental conditions which presumably reflect farming practice. This stimulates the hen to lose her feathers, but also reinvigorates egg-production. Some flocks may be force moulted several times. In 2003, more than 75% of all flocks were moulted in the US.

Artificial incubation



Incubation can successfully occur artificially in machines that provide the correct, controlled environment for the developing chick. The average incubation period for chickens is 21 days but may depend on the temperature and humidity in the incubator. Temperature regulation is the most critical factor for a successful hatch. Variations of more than 1 °F (1.8 °C) from the optimum temperature of 99.5 °F (37.5 °C) will reduce hatch rates. Humidity is also important because the rate at which eggs lose water by evaporation depends on the ambient relative humidity. Evaporation can be assessed by candling, to view the size of the air sac, or by measuring weight loss. Relative humidity
Relative humidity
Relative humidity is a term used to describe the amount of water vapor in a mixture of air and water vapor. It is defined as the partial pressure of water vapor in the air-water mixture, given as a percentage of the saturated vapor pressure under those conditions...

 should be increased to around 70% in the last three days of incubation to keep the membrane around the hatching chick from drying out after the chick cracks the shell. Lower humidity is usual in the first 18 days to ensure adequate evaporation. The position of the eggs in the incubator can also influence hatch rates. For best results, eggs should be placed with the pointed ends down and turned regularly (at least three times per day) until one to three days before hatching. If the eggs aren't turned, the embryo
Embryo
An embryo is a multicellular diploid eukaryote in its earliest stage of development, from the time of first cell division until birth, hatching, or germination...

 inside may stick to the shell and may hatch with physical defects. Adequate ventilation is necessary to provide the embryo
Embryo
An embryo is a multicellular diploid eukaryote in its earliest stage of development, from the time of first cell division until birth, hatching, or germination...

 with oxygen. Older eggs require increased ventilation.

Many commercial incubators are industrial-sized with shelves holding tens of thousands of eggs at a time, with rotation of the eggs a fully automated process. Home incubators are boxes holding from half a dozen to 75 eggs; they are usually electrically powered, but in the past some were heated with an oil or paraffin lamp.

Chicken eggs as food



Chicken eggs are widely used in many types of dishes, both sweet and savory, including many baked goods
Baking
Baking is the technique of prolonged cooking of food by dry heat acting by convection, and not by radiation, normally in an oven, but also in hot ashes, or on hot stones. It is primarily used for the preparation of bread, cakes, pastries and pies, tarts, quiches, cookies and crackers. Such items...

. Eggs can be scrambled, fried, hard-boiled, soft-boiled, pickled
Pickling
Pickling, also known as brining or corning is the process of preserving food by anaerobic fermentation in brine to produce lactic acid, or marinating and storing it in an acid solution, usually vinegar . The resulting food is called a pickle. This procedure gives the food a salty or sour taste...

, and poached. The albumen, or egg white, contains protein but little or no fat
Fat
Fats consist of a wide group of compounds that are generally soluble in organic solvents and generally insoluble in water. Chemically, fats are triglycerides, triesters of glycerol and any of several fatty acids. Fats may be either solid or liquid at room temperature, depending on their structure...

, and can be used in cooking separately from the yolk. Egg whites may be aerated or whipped to a light, fluffy consistency and are often used in desserts such as meringue
Meringue
Meringue is a type of dessert made from whipped egg whites and sugar, occasionally some recipes may call for adding an acid such as cream of tartar or a small amount of vinegar and a binding agent such as cornstarch found in icing sugar which may be added in addition to the corn starch which...

s and mousse
Mousse
Mousse is derived from the French word mousse which means "lather" or "foam". A mousse is a prepared food that incorporates air bubbles to give it a light and airy texture...

. Ground egg shells are sometimes used as a food additive
Food additive
Food additives are substances added to food to preserve flavor or enhance its taste and appearance.Some additives have been used for centuries; for example, preserving food by pickling , salting, as with bacon, preserving sweets or using sulfur dioxide as in some wines...

 to deliver calcium
Calcium
Calcium is the chemical element with the symbol Ca and atomic number 20. It has an atomic mass of 40.078 amu. Calcium is a soft gray alkaline earth metal, and is the fifth-most-abundant element by mass in the Earth's crust...

. Some people prefer to just have a female, and raise it for the eggs.

Chickens as food




The meat
Meat
Meat is animal flesh that is used as food. Most often, this means the skeletal muscle and associated fat and other tissues, but it may also describe other edible tissues such as organs and offal...

 of the chicken, also called "chicken", is a type of poultry meat. Because of its relatively low cost, chicken is one of the most used meats in the world. Nearly all parts of the bird can be used for food, and the meat can be cooked in many different ways. Popular chicken dishes include roasted chicken, fried chicken
Fried chicken
Fried chicken is a dish consisting of chicken pieces usually from broiler chickens which have been floured or battered and then pan fried, deep fried, or pressure fried. The breading adds a crisp coating or crust to the exterior...

, chicken soup
Chicken soup
Chicken soup is a soup made by bringing to a boil and then simmering chicken parts and/or bones in water, with various vegetables and flavorings. The classic chicken soup consists of a clear broth, often served with small pieces of chicken or vegetables, or with noodles or dumplings, or grains such...

, Buffalo wings
Buffalo wings
A Buffalo wing, hot wing or wing is a chicken wing section that is traditionally fried unbreaded and then coated in sauce...

, tandoori chicken
Tandoori chicken
Tandoori chicken is highly popular Indian and Pakistani dish consisting of roasted chicken, yogurt, and spices.-Preparation:The chicken is marinated in Yoghurt and seasoned with tandoori masala. It is moderately piquant in India and Pakistan, but the heat is reduced in most Western nations...

, butter chicken
Butter chicken
Butter chicken is part of the Indian cuisine, popular in countries all over the world. The origins of butter chicken can be traced back to Kundan Lal Gujral, a Hindu Punjabi, who ran a restaurant called Moti Mahal in Delhi. Butter Chicken is regarded to have been first introduced by Moti Mahal in...

, and chicken rice
Hainanese chicken rice
Hainanese chicken rice is a dish of Chinese origin most commonly associated with Hainanese and Singaporean cuisine, although it is also commonly sold in neighbouring Thailand and Malaysia...

. Chicken is also a staple of many fast food
Fast food
Fast food is the term given to food that can be prepared and served very quickly. While any meal with low preparation time can be considered to be fast food, typically the term refers to food sold in a restaurant or store with preheated or precooked ingredients, and served to the customer in a...

 restaurants.

Chickens as pets



Chickens are sometimes kept as pet
Pet
A pet is a household animal kept for companionship and a person's enjoyment, as opposed to wild animals or to livestock, laboratory animals, working animals or sport animals, which are kept for economic or productive reasons. The most popular pets are noted for their loyal or playful...

s and can be tamed by hand feeding, but roosters can sometimes become aggressive and noisy, although aggression can be curbed with proper handling. Some have advised against keeping them around very young children. Certain breeds, however, such as silkies and many bantam varieties are generally docile and are often recommended as good pets around children with disabilities.
Some people find chickens' behaviour entertaining and educational.

Chicken diseases and ailments


Chickens are susceptible to several parasites, including lice, mite
Mite
Mites, along with ticks, are small arthropods belonging to the subclass Acari and the class Arachnida. The scientific discipline devoted to the study of ticks and mites is called acarology.-Diversity and systematics:...

s, tick
Tick
Ticks are small arachnids in the order Ixodida, along with mites, constitute the subclass Acarina. Ticks are ectoparasites , living by hematophagy on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians...

s, flea
Flea
Flea is the common name for insects of the order Siphonaptera which are wingless insects with mouthparts adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood...

s, and intestinal worms, as well as other diseases. Despite the name, they are not affected by chickenpox
Chickenpox
Chickenpox or chicken pox is a highly contagious illness caused by primary infection with varicella zoster virus . It usually starts with vesicular skin rash mainly on the body and head rather than at the periphery and becomes itchy, raw pockmarks, which mostly heal without scarring...

, which is generally restricted to humans.

Some of the common diseases that affect chickens are shown below:
Name Common Name Caused by
Aspergillosis
Aspergillosis
Aspergillosis is the name given to a wide variety of diseases caused by fungi of the genus Aspergillus. The most common forms are allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, pulmonary aspergilloma and invasive aspergillosis. Most humans inhale Aspergillus spores every day...

fungi
Avian influenza bird flu virus
Histomoniasis
Blackhead disease
Blackhead disease is a commercially important avian disease that affects chickens, turkeys and other poultry birds. The disease carries a high mortality rate and primarily affects the liver and cecum. It is a form of histomoniasis which is transmitted by the protozoan parasite Histomonas meleagridis...

Blackhead disease protozoal parasite
Botulism
Botulism
Botulism also known as botulinus intoxication is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by botulinum toxin which is metabolic waste produced under anaerobic conditions by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, and affecting a wide range of mammals, birds and fish...

toxin
Cage Layer Fatigue mineral deficiencies, lack of exercise
Campylobacteriosis
Campylobacteriosis
Campylobacteriosis is an infection by the Campylobacter bacterium, most commonly C. jejuni. It is among the most common bacterial infections of humans, often a foodborne illness. It produces an inflammatory, sometimes bloody, diarrhea or dysentery syndrome, mostly including cramps, fever and...

tissue injury in the gut
Coccidiosis parasites
Cold
Common cold
The common cold is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory system, caused primarily by rhinoviruses and coronaviruses. Common symptoms include a cough, sore throat, runny nose, and fever...

s
virus
Crop Bound improper feeding
Dermanyssus gallinae
Dermanyssus gallinae
Dermanyssus gallinae is an ectoparasite of poultry and other bird species.-Description:...

Red mite parasite
Egg bound
Egg bound
In farming, aviculture and animal husbandry, the term egg binding refers to a medical condition in birds where the female is unable to pass an egg that has formed. The egg may be stuck near the cloaca, or further inside. Egg binding is a reasonably common, and potentially serious, condition that...

oversized egg
Erysipelas
Erysipelas
Erysipelas is an acute streptococcus bacterial infection of the deep epidermis with lymphatic spread.-Risk factors:...

bacteria
Fatty Liver Hemorrhagic Syndrome
Fatty liver hemorrhagic syndrome
Fatty liver hemorrhagic syndrome , a disease in chickens and other birds, affects only hens . Birds with this disease have large amounts of fat deposited in their liver and abdomen. This often results in an enlarged liver that is easily damaged and prone to bleeding...

high-energy food
Fowl Cholera bacteria
Fowl pox virus
Fowl Typhoid bacteria
Gallid herpesvirus 1
Gallid herpesvirus 1
Gallid herpesvirus 1 is a virus of the family Herpesviridae that causes avian infectious laryngotracheitis. It was originally recognized as a disease of chickens in the United States in 1926...


or Infectious Laryngotracheitis
virus
Gapeworm
Gapeworm
A gapeworm is a parasitic nematode worm infecting the tracheas of certain birds. The resulting disease, known as gape or the gapes, occurs when the worms clog and obstruct the airway. The worms are also known as red worms or forked worms due to their red color and the permanent procreative...

Syngamus trachea worms
Infectious Bronchitis virus
Infectious Bursal Disease
Infectious Bursal Disease
Infectious bursal disease is a highly contagious disease of young chickens caused by infectious bursal disease virus , characterized by immunosuppression and mortality generally at 3 to 6 weeks of age. The disease was first discovered in Gumboro, Delaware in 1962...

Gumboro virus
Infectious Coryza bacteria
Lymphoid leukosis Avian leukosis virus
Marek's disease
Marek's disease
Marek's disease is a highly contagious viral neoplastic disease in chickens. It is named after József Marek, a Hungarian veterinarian. Occasionally misdiagnosed as an abtissue pathology it is caused by an alphaherpesvirus known as 'Marek's disease virus' or Gallid herpesvirus 2...

virus
Moniliasis Yeast Infection
or Thrush
fungi
Mycoplasmas bacteria-like organisms
Newcastle disease
Newcastle disease
Newcastle disease is a contagious bird disease affecting many domestic and wild avian species. First found in Newcastle, United Kingdom in 1926, then by Burnet in 1943 in Australia in connection with laboratory infection where the virus was isolated from a ocular discharge of a patient to show the...

virus
Necrotic Enteritis bacteria
Omphalitis
Omphalitis
Omphalitis is the medical term for infection of the umbilical cord stump in the neonatal newborn period. While currently an uncommon anatomical location for infection in the newborn in the United States, it has caused significant morbidity and mortality both historically and in areas where health...

Mushy chick disease umbilical cord stump
Peritonitis Infection in abdomen from egg yolk
Prolapse
Psittacosis
Psittacosis
In medicine , psittacosis — also known as parrot disease, parrot fever, and ornithosis — is a zoonotic infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Chlamydophila psittaci and contracted from parrots, such as macaws, cockatiels and budgerigars, and pigeons, sparrows, ducks, hens, gulls and many...

bacteria
Pullorum
Salmonella
Salmonella is a genus of rod-shaped, Gram-negative, non-spore-forming, predominantly motile enterobacteria with diameters around 0.7 to 1.5 µm, lengths from 2 to 5 µm, and flagella which grade in all directions . They are chemoorganotrophs, obtaining their energy from oxidation and reduction...

Salmonella
Salmonella
Salmonella is a genus of rod-shaped, Gram-negative, non-spore-forming, predominantly motile enterobacteria with diameters around 0.7 to 1.5 µm, lengths from 2 to 5 µm, and flagella which grade in all directions . They are chemoorganotrophs, obtaining their energy from oxidation and reduction...

bacteria
Scaly leg
Scaly leg
Scaly leg is a disease of chickens and other birds. It is caused by a parasitic mite, Knemidocoptes mutans. The mite burrows under the scales in the bird's legs, but may also infest other areas, such as the comb or wattles of chickens...

parasites
Squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma , occasionally rendered as "squamous-cell carcinoma", is a histologically distinct form of cancer. It arises from the uncontrolled multiplication of malignant cells deriving from epithelium, or showing particular cytological or tissue architectural characteristics of...

cancer
Tibial dyschondroplasia
Tibial dyschondroplasia
Tibial dyschondroplasia is a metabolic disease of young poultry that affects the growth of bone and cartilage.Often occurs in broilers and other poultry which have been bred for fast growth rates. The tibial cartilage does not mature enough to ossify...

speed growing
Toxoplasmosis
Toxoplasmosis
Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease caused by the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii. The parasite infects most genera of warm-blooded animals, including humans, but the primary host is the felid family. Animals are infected by eating infected meat, by ingestion of feces of a cat that has itself...

protozoal parasite
Ulcerative Enteritis bacteria
Ulcerative pododermatitis Bumblefoot bacteria

Chickens in religion and mythology


In Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 the chicken has great significance during the Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 cremation
Cremation
Cremation is the process of reducing bodies to basic chemical compounds such as gasses and bone fragments. This is accomplished through high-temperature burning, vaporization and oxidation....

 ceremony. A chicken is considered a channel for evil spirits which may be present during the ceremony. A chicken is tethered by the leg
Leg
Łęg may refer to the following places in Poland:*A former name for the town of Ełk *Part of the Czyżyny district of Kraków*Łęg, Pleszew County in Greater Poland Voivodeship...

 and kept present at the ceremony for its duration to ensure that any evil spirits present during the ceremony go into the chicken and not the family members present. The chicken is then taken home and returns to its normal life.

In ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, the chicken was not normally used for sacrifices, perhaps because it was still considered an exotic animal. Because of its valor, the cock is found as an attribute of Ares
Ares
Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and...

, Heracles
Heracles
Heracles ,born Alcaeus or Alcides , was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson of Perseus...

, and Athena
Athena
In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

. The alleged last words of Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

 as he died from hemlock
Conium
Conium is a genus of two species of highly poisonous perennial herbaceous flowering plants in the family Apiaceae, native to Europe and the Mediterranean region as Conium maculatum, and to southern Africa as Conium chaerophylloides....

 poisoning, as recounted by Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, were "Crito
Crito of Alopece
Crito of Alopece was a faithful, probably lifelong companion of Socrates. The two had evidently grown up together as friends, being from the same deme and of roughly the same age...

, I owe a cock to Asclepius
Asclepius
Asclepius is the God of Medicine and Healing in ancient Greek religion. Asclepius represents the healing aspect of the medical arts; his daughters are Hygieia , Iaso , Aceso , Aglæa/Ægle , and Panacea...

; will you remember to pay the debt?", signifying that death
Death
Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include old age, predation, malnutrition, disease, and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury....

 was a cure for the illness of life.

The Greeks believed that even lion
Lion
The lion is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger...

s were afraid of cocks. Several of Aesop's Fables
Aesop's Fables
Aesop's Fables or the Aesopica are a collection of fables credited to Aesop, a slave and story-teller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 560 BCE. The fables remain a popular choice for moral education of children today...

 reference this belief.

In the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

, Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 prophesied the betrayal by Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

: "Jesus answered, 'I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.'" (Luke
Gospel of Luke
The Gospel According to Luke , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels. This synoptic gospel is an account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It details his story from the events of his birth to his Ascension.The...

 22:34) Thus it happened (Luke
Gospel of Luke
The Gospel According to Luke , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels. This synoptic gospel is an account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It details his story from the events of his birth to his Ascension.The...

 22:61), and Peter cried bitterly. This made the cock a symbol for both vigilance and betrayal.

Earlier, Jesus compares himself to a mother hen when talking about Jerusalem: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." (Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

 23:37; also Luke 13:34).

In many Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

an folk tales, the devil
Devil
The Devil is believed in many religions and cultures to be a powerful, supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of God and humankind. The nature of the role varies greatly...

 is believed to flee at the first crowing of a cock.

In traditional Jewish
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

 practice, a kosher animal is swung around the head and then slaughtered on the afternoon before Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur , also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest and most solemn day of the year for the Jews. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue...

, the Day of Atonement, in a ritual called kapparos
Kapparos
Kapparot is a Jewish ritual practiced by some Jews on the eve of Yom Kippur. The person swings a live chicken or a bundle of coins over one's head three times, symbolically transferring one's sins to the chicken or coins...

. A chicken or fish is typically used because it is commonly available (and small enough to hold). The sacrifice of the animal is to receive atonement, for the animal symbolically takes on all the person's sins in kapparos. The meat is then donated to the poor. A woman
Woman
A woman , pl: women is a female human. The term woman is usually reserved for an adult, with the term girl being the usual term for a female child or adolescent...

 brings a hen for the ceremony, while a man
Man
The term man is used for an adult human male . However, man is sometimes used to refer to humanity as a whole...

 brings a rooster. Although not actually a sacrifice in the biblical sense, the death of the animal reminds the penitent sinner that his or her life is in God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

's hands.

The Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 speaks of learning "courtesy toward one's mate" from the rooster (Eruvin 100b). This might refer to the fact that when a rooster finds something good to eat, he calls his hens to eat first.

The chicken is one of the Zodiac
Zodiac
In astronomy, the zodiac is a circle of twelve 30° divisions of celestial longitude which are centred upon the ecliptic: the apparent path of the Sun across the celestial sphere over the course of the year...

 symbols of the Chinese calendar
Chinese calendar
The Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar, incorporating elements of a lunar calendar with those of a solar calendar. It is not exclusive to China, but followed by many other Asian cultures as well...

. Also in Chinese religion
Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion or Shenism , which is a term of considerable debate, are labels used to describe the collection of ethnic religious traditions which have been a main belief system in China and among Han Chinese ethnic groups for most of the civilization's history until today...

, a cooked chicken as a religious offering is usually limited to ancestor veneration and worship of village deities. Vegetarian deities such as the Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

 are not one of the recipients of such offerings. Under some observations, an offering of chicken is presented with "serious" prayer (while roasted pork
Pork
Pork is the culinary name for meat from the domestic pig , which is eaten in many countries. It is one of the most commonly consumed meats worldwide, with evidence of pig husbandry dating back to 5000 BC....

 is offered during a joyous celebration). In Confucian Chinese Wedding
Wedding
A wedding is the ceremony in which two people are united in marriage or a similar institution. Wedding traditions and customs vary greatly between cultures, ethnic groups, religions, countries, and social classes...

s, a chicken can be used as a substitute for one who is seriously ill or not available (e.g. sudden death) to attend the ceremony. A red silk
Silk
Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity...

 scarf is placed on the chicken's head and a close relative of the absent bride/groom holds the chicken so the ceremony may proceed. However, this practice is rare today.

A cockatrice
Cockatrice
A cockatrice is a legendary creature, essentially a two-legged dragon with a rooster's head. "An ornament in the drama and poetry of the Elizabethans", Laurence Breiner described it...

 was supposed to have been born from an egg laid by a rooster, as well as killed by a Rooster's call.

Chickens in history



An early domestication of chickens in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

 is probable, since the word for domestic chicken (*manuk) is part of the reconstructed Proto-Austronesian language
Proto-Austronesian language
The Proto-Austronesian language is the reconstructed ancestor of the Austronesian languages, one of the world's major language families. However, Ross notes that what may be the most divergent languages, Tsou, Rukai, and Puyuma, are not addressed by the reconstructions, which therefore cannot...

 (see Austronesian languages
Austronesian languages
The Austronesian languages are a language family widely dispersed throughout the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with a few members spoken on continental Asia that are spoken by about 386 million people. It is on par with Indo-European, Niger-Congo, Afroasiatic and Uralic as one of the...

). Chickens, together with dogs and pig
Pig
A pig is any of the animals in the genus Sus, within the Suidae family of even-toed ungulates. Pigs include the domestic pig, its ancestor the wild boar, and several other wild relatives...

s, were the domestic animals of the Lapita
Lapita
Lapita is a term applied to an ancient Pacific Ocean archaeological culture which is believed by many archaeologists to be the common ancestor of several cultures in Polynesia, Micronesia, and some coastal areas of Melanesia...

 culture, the first Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 culture of Oceania
Oceania
Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania range from the coral atolls and volcanic islands of the South Pacific to the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago...

.

The first pictures of chickens in Europe are found on Corinthian pottery
Pottery
Pottery is the material from which the potteryware is made, of which major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made is also called a pottery . Pottery also refers to the art or craft of the potter or the manufacture of pottery...

 of the 7th century BC. The poet Cratinus
Cratinus
Cratinus , Athenian comic poet of the Old Comedy.-Life:Cratinus was victorious six times at the City Dionysia, first probably in the mid- to late 450s BCE , and three times at the Lenaia, first probably in the early 430s...

 (mid-5th century BC, according to the later Greek author Athenaeus
Athenaeus
Athenaeus , of Naucratis in Egypt, Greek rhetorician and grammarian, flourished about the end of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd century AD...

) calls the chicken "the Persia
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

n alarm". In Aristophanes
Aristophanes
Aristophanes , son of Philippus, of the deme Cydathenaus, was a comic playwright of ancient Athens. Eleven of his forty plays survive virtually complete...

's comedy The Birds
The Birds (play)
The Birds is a comedy by the Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes. It was performed in 414 BCE at the City Dionysia where it won second prize. It has been acclaimed by modern critics as a perfectly realized fantasy remarkable for its mimicry of birds and for the gaiety of its songs...

(414 BC) a chicken is called "the Median
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

 bird", which points to an introduction from the East. Pictures of chickens are found on Greek red figure
Red-figure pottery
Red-figure vase painting is one of the most important styles of figural Greek vase painting. It developed in Athens around 530 BC and remained in use until the late 3rd century BC. It replaced the previously dominant style of Black-figure vase painting within a few decades...

 and black-figure pottery
Black-figure pottery
Black-figure pottery painting, also known as the black-figure style or black-figure ceramic is one of the most modern styles for adorning antique Greek vases. It was especially common between the 7th and 5th centuries BC, although there are specimens dating as late as the 2nd century BC...

.

In ancient Greece, chickens were still rare and were a rather prestigious food for symposia
Symposium
In ancient Greece, the symposium was a drinking party. Literary works that describe or take place at a symposium include two Socratic dialogues, Plato's Symposium and Xenophon's Symposium, as well as a number of Greek poems such as the elegies of Theognis of Megara...

. Delos
Delos
The island of Delos , isolated in the centre of the roughly circular ring of islands called the Cyclades, near Mykonos, is one of the most important mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece...

 seems to have been a center of chicken breeding.

The Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

s used chickens for oracles, both when flying ("ex avibus", Augury) and when feeding ("auspicium ex tripudiis", Alectryomancy
Alectryomancy
Alectryomancy is a form of divination in which the diviner observes a bird, several birds pecking at grain that the diviner has scattered on the ground...

). The hen ("gallina") gave a favourable omen ("auspicium ratum"), when appearing from the left (Cic.,de Div. ii.26), like the crow and the owl.

For the oracle "ex tripudiis" according to Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

 (Cic. de Div. ii.34), any bird could be used, but normally only chickens ("pulli") were consulted. The chickens were cared for by the pullarius, who opened their cage and fed them pulses or a special kind of soft cake when an augury was needed. If the chickens stayed in their cage, made noises ("occinerent"), beat their wings or flew away, the omen was bad; if they ate greedily, the omen was good.

In 249 BC, the Roman general Publius Claudius Pulcher had his chickens thrown overboard when they refused to feed before the battle of Drepana
Battle of Drepana
The naval Battle of Drepana took place in 249 BC during the First Punic War near modern Trapani, western Sicily between the fleets of Carthage and the Roman Republic.-Prelude:...

, saying "If they won't eat, perhaps they will drink." He promptly lost the battle against the Carthaginians and 93 Roman ships were sunk. Back in Rome, he was tried for impiety and heavily fined.

In 161 BC, a law was passed in Rome that forbade the consumption of fattened chickens. It was renewed a number of times, but does not seem to have been successful. Fattening chickens with bread soaked in milk was thought to give especially delicious results. The Roman gourmet Apicius
Apicius
Apicius is the title of a collection of Roman cookery recipes, usually thought to have been compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century AD and written in a language that is in many ways closer to Vulgar than to Classical Latin....

 offers 17 recipes for chicken, mainly boiled chicken with a sauce. All parts of the animal are used: the recipe
Recipe
A recipe is a set of instructions that describe how to prepare or make something, especially a culinary dish.-Components:Modern culinary recipes normally consist of several components*The name of the dish...

s include the stomach
Stomach
The stomach is a muscular, hollow, dilated part of the alimentary canal which functions as an important organ of the digestive tract in some animals, including vertebrates, echinoderms, insects , and molluscs. It is involved in the second phase of digestion, following mastication .The stomach is...

, liver, testicle
Testicle
The testicle is the male gonad in animals. Like the ovaries to which they are homologous, testes are components of both the reproductive system and the endocrine system...

s and even the pygostyle
Pygostyle
Pygostyle refers to a number of the final few caudal vertebrae fused into a single ossification, supporting the tail feathers and musculature. In modern birds, the rectrices attach to these....

 (the fatty "tail" of the chicken where the tail feathers attach).

The Roman author Columella
Columella
Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella is the most important writer on agriculture of the Roman empire. Little is known of his life. He was probably born in Gades , possibly of Roman parents. After a career in the army , he took up farming...

 gives advice on chicken breeding in his eighth book of his treatise on agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

. He identifies Tanagrian, Rhodic, Chalkidic and Median (commonly misidentified as Melian) breeds, which have an impressive appearance, a quarrelsome nature and were used for cockfighting by the Greeks. For farming, native (Roman) chickens are to be preferred, or a cross between native hens and Greek cocks. Dwarf chickens are nice to watch because of their size but have no other advantages.

Per Columella, the ideal flock consists of 200 birds, which can be supervised by one person if someone is watching for stray animals. White chickens should be avoided as they are not very fertile and are easily caught by eagles or goshawks. One cock should be kept for five hens. In the case of Rhodian and Median cocks that are very heavy and therefore not much inclined to sex, only three hens are kept per cock. The hens of heavy fowls are not much inclined to brood; therefore their eggs are best hatched by normal hens. A hen can hatch no more than 15-23 eggs, depending on the time of year, and supervise no more than 30 hatchlings. Eggs that are long and pointed give more male, rounded eggs mainly female hatchlings.

Per Columella, chicken coops should face southeast and lie adjacent to the kitchen, as smoke is beneficial for the animals. Coops should consist of three rooms and possess a hearth. Dry dust or ash should be provided for dust-baths.

According to Columella, chicken should be fed on barley groats, small chick-peas, millet and wheat bran, if they are cheap. Wheat itself should be avoided as it is harmful to the birds. Boiled ryegrass (Lollium sp.) and the leaves and seeds of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) can be used as well. Grape marc can be used, but only when the hens stop laying eggs, that is, about the middle of November; otherwise eggs are small and few. When feeding grape marc, it should be supplemented with some bran. Hens start to lay eggs after the winter solstice
Winter solstice
Winter solstice may refer to:* Winter solstice, astronomical event* Winter Solstice , former band* Winter Solstice: North , seasonal songs* Winter Solstice , 2005 American film...

, in warm places around the first of January, in colder areas in the middle of February. Parboiled barley increases their fertility; this should be mixed with alfalfa leaves and seeds, or vetches or millet if alfalfa is not at hand. Free-ranging chickens should receive two cups of barley daily.

Columella advises farmers to slaughter hens that are older than three years, because they no longer produce sufficient eggs.

Capons were produced by burning out their spurs with a hot iron. The wound was treated with potter's chalk.

For the use of poultry and eggs in the kitchens of ancient Rome see Roman eating and drinking.

Chickens were spread by Polynesia
Polynesia
Polynesia is a subregion of Oceania, made up of over 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are termed Polynesians and they share many similar traits including language, culture and beliefs...

n seafarers and reached Easter Island
Easter Island
Easter Island is a Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian triangle. A special territory of Chile that was annexed in 1888, Easter Island is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapanui people...

 in the 12th century AD, where they were the only domestic animal, with the possible exception of the Polynesian Rat
Polynesian Rat
The Polynesian Rat, or Pacific Rat , known to the Māori as kiore, is the third most widespread species of rat in the world behind the Brown Rat and Black Rat. The Polynesian Rat originates in Southeast Asia but, like its cousins, has become well travelled – infiltrating Fiji and most Polynesian...

 (Rattus exulans). They were housed in extremely solid chicken coop
Chicken coop
A chicken coop is a building where female chickens are kept. Inside there are often nest boxes for egg laying and perches on which the birds can sleep, although coops for meat birds seldom have either of these features....

s built from stone.

Chickens in South America


An unusual variety of chicken that has its origins in South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

 is the araucana
Araucana
The Araucana, also known in the USA as a South American Rumpless, is a breed of chicken originating in Chile. The Araucana is often confused with other fowl, especially the Ameraucana and Easter Egger chickens, but has several unusual characteristics which distinguish it. They lay blue eggs, have...

, bred in southern Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 by Mapuche
Mapuche
The Mapuche are a group of indigenous inhabitants of south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina. They constitute a wide-ranging ethnicity composed of various groups who shared a common social, religious and economic structure, as well as a common linguistic heritage. Their influence extended...

 people. Araucanas, some of which are tailless and some of which have tufts of feathers around their ears, lay blue-green eggs. It has long been suggested that they predate the arrival of European chickens brought by the Spanish
Spanish colonization of the Americas
Colonial expansion under the Spanish Empire was initiated by the Spanish conquistadores and developed by the Monarchy of Spain through its administrators and missionaries. The motivations for colonial expansion were trade and the spread of the Christian faith through indigenous conversions...

 and are evidence of pre-Columbian
Pre-Columbian
The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continents, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during...

 trans-Pacific contacts between Asian or Pacific Oceanic peoples, particularly the Polynesians and South America. In 2007, an international team of researchers reported the results of analysis of chicken bones found on the Arauco Peninsula in south central Chile. Radiocarbon dating suggested that the chickens were Pre-Columbian, and DNA analysis showed that they were related to prehistoric populations of chickens in Polynesia. These results appeared to confirm that the chickens came from Polynesia and that there were transpacific contacts between Polynesia and South America before Columbus's arrival in the Americas.

However, a later report looking at the same specimens concluded:

A published, apparently pre-Columbian, Chilean specimen and six pre-European Polynesian specimens also cluster with the same European/Indian subcontinental/Southeast Asian sequences, providing no support for a Polynesian introduction of chickens to South America. In contrast, sequences from two archaeological sites on Easter Island group with an uncommon haplogroup from Indonesia, Japan, and China and may represent a genetic signature of an early Polynesian dispersal. Modeling of the potential marine carbon contribution to the Chilean archaeological specimen casts further doubt on claims for pre-Columbian chickens, and definitive proof will require further analyses of ancient DNA sequences and radiocarbon and stable isotope data from archaeological excavations within both Chile and Polynesia.

See also


  • abnormal behaviour of birds in captivity
    Abnormal behaviour of birds in captivity
    -Abnormal behaviour :When housed under captive or commercial conditions, birds often show a range of abnormal behaviours. These are often self-injurious or harmful to other individuals, and include:*Feather pecking*Cannibalism*Vent pecking...

  • Unihemispheric slow-wave sleep
    Unihemispheric slow-wave sleep
    Unihemispheric slow-wave sleep , also termed asymmetric slow-wave sleep , is characterized by slow-wave activity in one hemisphere of the brain while a low voltage EEG, characteristic of wakefulness, is present in the other. The phenomenon has been observed in a number of terrestrial and aquatic as...

  • Bantam (poultry)
  • Chicken fat
    Chicken fat
    Chicken fat is fat obtained from chicken rendering and processing. Of animal-sourced substances, chicken fat is noted for being high in linoleic acid, a beneficial omega-6 fatty acid. Linoleic acid levels are between 17.9% and 22.8%. It is often used in pet foods, and has also been used in the...

  • Chicken hypnotism
    Chicken hypnotism
    A chicken can be hypnotized, or put into a trance, by holding its head down against the ground, and continuously drawing a line along the ground with a stick or a finger, starting at its beak and extending straight outward in front of the chicken...

  • Chicken or the egg
  • Chickenpox
    Chickenpox
    Chickenpox or chicken pox is a highly contagious illness caused by primary infection with varicella zoster virus . It usually starts with vesicular skin rash mainly on the body and head rather than at the periphery and becomes itchy, raw pockmarks, which mostly heal without scarring...

  • Chook raffle
    Chook raffle
    Chook raffle is the name given to the Australian tradition of 'raffling off' chicken meat, often in clubs.The name derives from "chook", the Australian slang term for a chicken...

     - a type of raffle where the prize is a chicken.
  • Feral chicken
  • Gamebird hybrids
    Gamebird hybrids
    Gamebird hybrids are the result of crossing species of game birds, including ducks, with each other and with domestic poultry. These hybrid species may occur both naturally or though the intervention of man....

     - hybrids between chickens, peafowl, guineafowl and pheasants
  • List of chicken breeds
  • Rubber chicken
    Rubber chicken
    A rubber chicken is a prop used in comedy. The phrase is also used as a description for food served at speeches, conventions, and other large meetings, and as a metaphor for speechmaking.-Comedy:...

  • Symbolic chickens
    Symbolic chickens
    Chickens have been widely used as national symbols, and as mascots for clubs, businesses, and other associations.*The chicken is a national symbol of France and is used as an national mascot, in particular for sports teams...

  • Tastes like chicken
    Tastes like chicken
    "Tastes like chicken" is a common declaration used when trying to describe the flavor of a food a listener has never tasted. The expression has been used so often that it has become somewhat of a cliché...

  • "Why did the chicken cross the road?
    Why did the chicken cross the road?
    "Why did the chicken cross the road?" is a common riddle or joke in several languages. The answer or punchline is: "To get to the other side". The riddle is an example of anti-humor, in that the curious setup of the joke leads the listener to expect a traditional punchline, but they are instead...

    "

External links