Chicken: Description, Habitat, & Fun Facts

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Group of Chickens

Chicken Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Galliformes
  • Family: Phasianidae
  • Genus: Gallus
  • Scientific Name: Gallus gallus

In addition to being the most commonly domesticated fowl on the planet, the chicken is a sociable bird that is extensively exploited for its meat and eggs in many cultures. The processing of chickens for such purposes accounts for more than 50 billion birds processed each year.

They can be distinguished by their look and other traits, which varies greatly amongst hundreds of distinct breeds. The vast majority of chickens are produced on industrial farms, but some are maintained as pets or for other uses as well.

Interesting Facts About Chickens!

• Affluent Egg Layers: Chickens’ egg-laying is promoted by long periods of daylight during the warmer months, but they can lay eggs all year round under artificial illumination.

• Chickens have tight social hierarchies, which are referred to as “pecking orders,” which govern their interactions with one another. The availability to food and other resources is dictated by these social hierarchies.

• Eggs came first, then meat: Historically, chickens were regarded to be primarily useful for their eggs, with their meat being considered a byproduct. Beginning in the middle of the twentieth century, this began to change.

• Factory Farming: Currently, factory farms produce 74 percent of all chicken eggs produced in the United States. Such farms were first established in Great Britain in the 1920s, but they didn’t become widely used in the United States until after World War II.

• Chickens are not well-known for their ability to fly, despite the fact that they are winged birds in the first place. They can only “fly” for short distances and do so only when they are in danger of being eaten.

• The world’s heaviest chicken weights 16.5 pounds and stands as tall as a child, making it the world’s largest chicken!

Scientific Name of Chicken

The chicken is a member of the kingdom Animalia, the phylum Chordata, the class Aves, the order Galliformes, the family Phasianidae, and the genus Gallus. It is a member of the phylum Chordata, the class Aves, the order Galliformes, the family Phasianidae, and the genus Gallus.

The common chicken, which may be found all throughout the world, is a member of this genus of birds. Despite this, there is a considerable lot of disagreement in the scientific world about what the scientific name of the domesticated chicken should be.

Some people believe that the chicken is a domesticated version of the wild red jungle fowl, Gallus gallus. Those who disagree with this classification consider the bird to be a subspecies of the same fowl, which they refer to as G. gallus domesticus.

Others, including the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), believe that G. domesticus is the scientific designation for the domesticated chicken. Any way you look at it, all chickens are members of the same phylum, class, order, family, and genus.

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Originally, the species was referred to as the domestic fowl, or simply the fowl, because it was found in residential settings. Chickens were considered to be young domesticated fowl at the time of their classification. The expression “hens and chicks,” which dates back to this time period, is still commonly heard today.

Chickens are also known by a variety of names, which vary according on factors such as age and gender. In countries such as the United Kingdom and Ireland, mature males are referred to as cocks, whereas in the United States, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, they are referred to as roosters.

Cockerels are guys who are still in the process of maturing. Meanwhile, juvenile females are referred to as pullets, and mature females are referred to as hens. Capons are chickens that are raised solely for their meat production. Yardbirds are a term commonly used to refer to chickens in the Deep South of the United States.

Chicken Appearance and Behavior

There are literally hundreds of different chicken breeds and classifications to choose from. They can be recognized from one another by a variety of features, including the location of origin, skin color, plumage color, size, comb type, number of toes, egg coloring, and the quantity of feathering on their bodies.

Chickens are often squat and spherical in shape, whereas turkeys are more square in their appearance. It’s common for them to stand no taller than 27.6 inches and weigh approximately 5.7 pounds on average. Men and women have fleshy combs on the top of their heads and lobed wattles below their bills, which distinguish them from one another.

Caruncles are a term used to refer to these and other fleshy protuberances as a group. Hackles, which are shiny, pointed feathers that adorn the neck, and saddles, which are longer feathers that emerge along the back. The tails of these birds are typically long and arched.

Some breeds have tails that can grow up to 12 inches or more in length in some cases. Male hens, often known as roosters, are distinguished by their use of richer, more vibrant colours than their female counterparts. Chickens are social creatures who prefer to live in groups, which they do in flocks.

They are naturally intelligent and curious, and as a result, they establish social hierarchies within their flocks. Access to food, mates, nesting locations, and other resources are determined by these hierarchies, which are known as pecking orders.

They are normally comprised of one dominant male, a small number of subdominant males, and two or more females who are attentively guarded after by the dominant male and his followers.

With their beaks, higher-ranked animals may attack lower-ranked individuals to push them away from resources such as food, as part of a pecking order. Aside from punching and scratching one another with their claws, males may also use their wings to attack one another.

Chickens communicate with one another by making a variety of sounds. The crows of roosters, for example, are employed as territorial signals to other roosters in the vicinity; they are also caused by unexpected disturbances. Hens cluck after they have laid their eggs.

Clucking is also used to call their chicks (the term used to refer to baby chickens) over to them. Chickens also communicate with one another in the event of danger, utilizing different warning sounds depending on whether the danger is coming from above or below.

Chicken’s Natural Habitat

Chickens are said to have descended from a species known as the wild red jungle fowl, which may be traced back to Southeast Asia and possibly some regions of India. According to current theories, the domestication of these birds occurred on a number of occasions beginning roughly 7,500 years ago.

They may have been domesticated for religious purposes or for entertainment purposes, like as cockfighting, which is now illegal in many parts of the world. They may also have been domesticated for food. The majority of chickens are now bred in captivity.

Their natural environment is frequently a factory farm environment. In the wild, they have two principal habitats, which are as follows: The majority of feeding places consist of open canopies with underlying bushes, whereas the majority of roosting sites are located at the base of lower tree branches and are used at night.

Chickens kept in captivity require the same dual-habitat arrangement as their wild counterparts. A chicken coop and a fenced-in outside area are common additions to this type of setup.

Diet of Chickens

Chickens in the wild are opportunistic feeders since they are omnivores. The majority of the time, they forage for food by scraping their beaks against the ground in search of insects, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.

They have been known to swallow larger species, including as tiny snakes, lizards, and mice, on occasion. During their time in captivity, chickens are largely fed chicken feed, which is primarily composed of grains and grain byproducts.

Chicken’s Predators and Threats

On a worldwide basis, industrialized farming is the most serious danger to chicken populations. The meat and eggs of more than 50 billion chickens are processed annually for human use as a result of mass farming practises.

Chickens are prone to a wide range of illnesses. In particular, salmonella is frequently found in their excrement and dander, which is particularly concerning.

The meat of these animals must be cooked to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit in order to destroy the harmful bacteria present. In the wild, chickens are preyed upon by a variety of predators, including bobcats, foxes, coyotes, snakes, skunks, opossums, rats, raccoons, weasels, and predatory birds.

Chicken Reproduction, Chicken Babies, and Chicken Life Expectancy

According to Egyptian legend, the chicken was referred to as “the bird that gives birth every day,” a reference to the fact that hens can lay upwards of 300 eggs each year, according to the National Geographic.

When courting a female, a rooster may conduct a circle dance, in which he dances in a circle while keeping a lowered wing aimed in her direction. This is most common during the spring and summer months. If the female is receptive, she will crouch down, and the mating process will begin immediately.

Hens are notorious for attempting to deposit their eggs in the same spot over and over again. Occasionally, they will seek out existing nests that already have eggs in them, and they may even shift eggs from a neighbouring nest to their own to make room for more eggs.

Hens lay around 12 eggs in order to complete a clutch; after the clutch is complete, all of the eggs are incubated. Consequently, eggs deposited at different times will still hatch at approximately the same time. When a hen stops laying eggs, she is said to have “gone brooding.”

She sits, or sets, on the nest to protect the eggs, rarely leaving them alone and turning them on a regular basis to ensure they are protected. In a matter of days or weeks, all of the eggs in the clutch hatch one after the other. After a while, the hen notices the chicks peeping within the eggs and responds with a clucking sound.

In order to breathe properly in their eggs, chicks “pip,” or peck out breathing holes in them with their egg teeth. After that, they repose for a bit, allowing the yolk to nourish them further. Chicks emerge from the nest after widening the initial hole, and they remain in the nest for around two days.

Hens will continue to care for their chicks for several weeks after that, guiding them to food and water while not personally feeding them. Between the time of ovulation and the time of egg laying, around 23 to 26 hours pass.

Because further ovulations can occur within an hour of the last egg being deposited, chickens are extremely productive egg layers. Some breeds can lay more than 300 eggs in a single year, according to the USDA. Fertilized chicken embryos develop swiftly, with chicks hatching in as little as 21 days after fertilisation.

Within four to five weeks, baby chicks are completely covered in down and have developed their full feathering. Males can create viable sperm at roughly six months of age, while females may produce viable eggs at approximately six months of age.

Chickens in free-range flocks have an average lifespan of six to eight years, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

Prior to being butchered for their flesh, the vast majority of the chickens employed in the poultry business lay eggs for two to three years. Known as Matilda from Alabama, the oldest living chicken on record survived to be 16 years old and is recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest living chicken.

Chicken’s Population

Globally, it is projected that there were around 23.7 billion chickens on the planet in 2018. That reflects a huge growth over the previous year, when the population was approximately 19 billion. In order to produce eggs and meat, around 50 billion chickens are slaughtered and processed each year.

Chickens are not considered endangered in any way, and they may be found all around the world, including Antarctica. The vast majority of chickens are produced in factory farms and perish there, however some are raised using free-range farming practises. Chickens are kept as pets by a small percentage of the world’s population.

Chicken References

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