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Chicken

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About Chicken

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Chicken is a bird, belonging to the family Phasianidae, scientifically called Gallus gallus, and is a domesticated subspecies of the wild red junglefowl. Domesticated animals or in this case birds share a sustained multi-generational relationship and are dependent on reproduction, care, and supply of resources from the previous generations. As of 2018, Chickens are estimated to be the most common and widespread domestic animals with a population of 23.7 billion. The number has risen significantly for up more than 19 billion since 2011.  Its ancient genetic maternal origins are in India and then moved across the world.  


Chicken Animal

Chicken is one of the most widespread and most consumed animals and yet so much about the chicken animal remains unknown. Let’s understand the anatomy of chicken, the difference between hen and chicken, the scientific name of hen, and the chicken’s scientific name.  


History and Origin of Chicken

Chicken is known to be a descendant in Southeast Asia of the Indian red junglefowl, and it is an ancestor of the popular domesticated chicken. It backs to at least 2000 BC when domestication first began, and these are called Gallus domesticus. They were first used for the sport of cockfighting. Then gradually they were bred for the purpose of meat production and eggs. There are about 350 different combinations of Chicken breeds today. All existing in different colours, shapes, and sizes. American Poultry Association in 1873, for organizing and establishing excellence in standards of breeding and classification of breeds. The birds raised in America today are mostly for meat production and the popularly bred ones are Cornish, a British Breed, and White Rock, a breed that was first developed in New England.


What is the Scientific Name of Hen?

The scientific names are included in the Binomial Nomenclature of officially naming the animals according to their Kingdom, genus, and species. Chicken belongs to the Animalia kingdom. The genus is the first name that is the family of the animal it belongs to and species is the specific family the genus belongs to and that is the second name. The species also is further classified as subspecies for differentiating domesticated ones from the wild.

The scientific name of hen is the same as the chicken scientific name that is Gallus gallus domesticus. Female chickens become Hen when they start laying eggs and since their family and genus or species don’t change the names too remain unchanged.


Anatomy of Chicken

Biology- A male chicken is called a rooster and a female one is referred to as a hen. Young ones are called chicks. Castrated ones are referred to as capons or neutered roosters. Both are generally called chickens. Less than 1-year-old chickens are called cockerels and females within their first year are called pullets.

After their 1st-year cockerels become cocks and pullets since they start laying eggs become hens. 

The most common confusion is the difference between hen and chicken. And it is quite a simple one to understand, basically when a female chicken reaches a stage when they lay eggs while it is arguable because some disagree saying that the transition starts after a year and they are no longer pullets. However, now the bred ones start laying eggs after 16-20 weeks itself. Summer and spring seasons are considered optimal for breeding and egg-laying naturally occur in the daylight. Nowadays this process is also triggered by artificial light in the nighttime.

Life Span-  The average lifespan as it turns out is 5-10 years, and when the hen is no longer able to lay eggs it is deemed unprofitable and slaughtered for meat consumption. 

Chicken Weights- There are varying breeds of chickens and chicken weights also vary according to their specific breed. On average they weigh 1.8 kg to 4.5 kg. The weight varies based on whether they are roosters (males) or hens (females). There are some breeds like Jersey Giant Chicken where the rooster hen weighs 4.5 kg and roosters weigh 5.9 kg. The other breeds that fall on the higher end of the weighing scale are Brahma chickens, Cochin chickens, and Orpington chickens. And the other breeds like Bantam Chicken are much more on the lighter side. Chickens nowadays exhibit limited growth and development. They do not grow in likeness to their full potential because they are slaughtered beforehand. And since now they are only heavily bred for meat and prematurely slaughtered they are small and underdeveloped and underweight. 

Chicken Body Parts- The unique parts of the chicken are cloaca and chicken feet. The chickens have a very efficient digestive system distinct from humans; they have no teeth but a beak that breaks food into smaller digestible pieces. The stomach is where the actual digestion starts. The cloaca is an orifice or a cavity that is present in the posterior region at the end of the digestive, urinary, and reproductive tract. It serves as the only opening and changes depending on bodily functions. The cloaca seals the oviduct when the chicken defecates, and the end of the digestive tract is sealed at the time of laying eggs. 

Chicken feets have a hock that is like the ankle which connects to the shank that is to the thighs of the chicken. And thus the foot is nothing but a part of the ankle bones. And this part often bends when they walk so they walk on their toes all the time.

The skin of Chicken also varies, as the body has a feathered skin-like appearance whereas the legs and feet appear to be scaled skin. And the footpad is unique because it’s tough, thick, and more flexible than other areas of the body. The toenails and beak of the chicken are made of hard keratin each serving a special function.


Chicken Behaviour

Chicken behaves uniquely when it socializes, courts, nests, broods, and defends itself. Chickens are very social animals and often their gregariousness is seen at the time of laying eggs. They do not have a separate nest for each bird rather they prefer laying in presence of others and preferably in the same location. The colour of the eggs also varies depending on the type of chicken breed from brownish to the lighter colour range. They go about their day in flocks and happily so, whenever a new chick joins the flock it often leads to fighting. When courting, prior to mating rooster dances and waltz around or near the hen. And when they sense a predator then also crow or if it is a weaker one with lack of experience they defend themselves by ganging upon them. They hatch after about 2 weeks of laying and it is only then that chicks start developing. The chicks when breaking the top of the shell and are looking outside, then clucks it to help be free and stays with them for 2 days. The chicks feed themselves by absorbing the internal yolk sac. 


Use of Chickens By Humans

Chickens were traditionally used by humans for cockfights as a form of sport and entertainment. Cocks which are the male chickens normally harbour a lot of angst for each other as they are trying to get near the hens. And this aggression is put to use by this sport of cockfight. It has been a popular form of entertainment even during the Indus valley civilization.

The other use humans make for chicken is for meat and eggs. The chickens reared for meat are called broilers and in America every year nearly 8 billion chickens are slaughtered for meat. Around the world, for the source of meat and eggs more than 50 billion chickens are reared. The ones reared for eggs are called layer hens. The UK stands high for consuming nearly 34 million eggs per day that is an alarming number. Often chicken is also kept as pets, which was trendy in the early 2000s as they were kept as pets in areas where there was a farm for eggs. 


Surprising and Fun Chicken Facts 

The following data are some fun facts about Chicken animals that will enhance your knowledge on this topic about the bird. 

  1. Chicken’s ancestors are known to be junglefowl and dinosaurs.

  2. It was first discovered in Tyrannosaurus rex’s leg bone, a presence of soft tissue similar to the chemical structure of a preserved protein that shows the link. 

  3. They are very much capable of showing empathy and compassion, especially hens when their chicks are in danger or difficult situations.

  4. So far 30 different calls of communication to each other about the whereabouts, to their young ones, or about the possibility of danger have been identified. 

  5. Rapid eye movement or REM sleep is observed in chickens which indicates that they can dream.

  6. Olive egg-laying chickens are produced when there is a cross between brown eggers and blue eggers.

  7. Hens are capable of ejecting and rejecting the sperm of a rooster if they are weak in the pecking order and rightfully choose a strong rooster to mate and allow them to father the chicks.

  8. Chicken can be hypnotized when they sense danger and scientists assume it to be some form of defense mechanism. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Can I Die From a Chicken Attack?

Ans. Chickens often wound you by attacking when they feel a sense of danger. The attack can cause you harm, so it must be immediately disinfected and treated. But it is highly impossible for one to die by a chicken attack. As it is not as dangerous as one imagines it to be. However, the wound must be tended to.

2. What is the Eyesight of Chickens?

Ans. Compared to other animals and birds, chickens do have poor vision. But their eyesight and vision are certainly superior to humans. Their eyes are on the side of the head so they have 300-degree vision. And are completely capable of using each eye differently for performing simultaneous tasks. They can clearly see the red light, blue and green light, and ultraviolet light because of the presence of 4 cones. This is called tetrachromatic vision. 

3. Can Chickens Fly?

Ans. Whether the chickens can fly or not depends on the type of breed of the chicken. It is assumed that due to the presence of feathers they can fly. It is true, but they cannot fly far for long distances. Smaller ones can reach a certain distance flying high, but not others. Other breeds of chickens are only capable of flying short distances.

4. Can I Bring Chicken as a Pet to My House?

Ans. Keeping chickens as pets is not a bad idea. People have been doing it for many centuries but only if you have a farm or you can keep them outdoors in nature and farm where they are the happiest. And they tend to keep the company in flocks so keeping them indoors without nature is not a good idea.