Trivia about chickens. Facts on chickens, information about chickens. When were chickens domesticated, how long do chickens live? What are the uses of chickens? How do hens lay eggs? How do hens raise chicks? What is the lifespan of a chicken? What is a bantam chicken?
Chickens have only been domesticated for 5000 years or so, much less time than sheep, goats, and even cattle. They were probably first domesticated in the area now known as Pakistan, possibly used as fighting animals before they were used for food, or egg production.
Chickens still resemble the Jungle fowl, the bird they were created from, and can still interbreed with today.
Chickens are the most common bird in the world, for every one human there are three, or more, chickens. There are several hundred breeds of chicken.
Chickens are most often used for meat or eggs, but in some areas they are used for fighting, as pets; their feathers are often used for making fish lures. Some breeds of hens are used to raise eggs of other chickens or even other birds, such as guinea fowl or pheasants.
Chick – baby bird
Pullets – young hens
Hen – mature female
Rooster – male, also called cocks
Capon – castrated male
Bantam – chickens that mature to a small size
Hackles – longer feathers on the neck of a rooster
Spur – sharp points on a rooster's leg's
©Author photo, Bantam Cochins, the chicks are about 3 weeks old, rooster on left, hen on right.
Facts and Information on Chickens
Contrary to popular belief, chickens can fly. They cannot fly well or for long; and some fatter birds cannot fly for more than a few feet. They naturally would fly into trees to roost for the night.
Chickens cannot swim.
Chickens are omnivores, they eat plant matter, and insects. They will even eat mice. Many people keep free range chickens to help control insect pests.
The diet of the hen determines the color of the yolk, a better diet means a darker yolk. Many battery hens are fed yellow dye in their food because their yolk would otherwise be very pale.
The breed of the hen, and specifically her ear color, determines the color of the shell which has no impact on the nutrition within the egg itself. While most eggs are white, or some shade of brown, but some breeds lay green or blue eggs.
Hens start laying at around 5 months, but most breeds only lay eggs in the spring and summer, with production dropping in the fall.
Chicken eggs form inside of the hen and are laid even if no rooster is present, a rooster is needed to produce chicks, but hens used for eggs are kept without rooster.
A hen would normally lay several eggs, one every day or so, until she has a clutch of eggs, then she stops laying more and will sit on the eggs. Regardless of the day they were laid they will all hatch on the same day, 21 days later – assuming they were fertile and other conditions were right.
Some hens never become broody – that is to say, they never sit on eggs other than to lay them, their eggs will not hatch unless cared for by another hen, or placed in an incubator; again this assumes the eggs were fertile.
When eggs are removed everyday, the hen continues to lay, with some breeds laying over 300 eggs per year.
Hatched chicks still require their mother for warmth but otherwise they feed themselves. Roosters will also care for chicks by warning them when danger approaches and chasing away threats.
Chickens used for meat are slaughtered as young as 6 weeks, or slightly older if “organic”. Battery farm laying hens are often slaughtered at the end of their first year lay (or forced into an early moult and kept slightly longer), as laying declines in future years. The normal lifespan of a chicken would be 8 to 10 years.