50 Interesting Facts About Chickens

  1. Chicken is the domesticated subspecies of the wild red jungle fowl, native to South Asia and Southeast Asia. Chicken also has some relation to the other three species of jungle fowls.
  2. A male chicken is known as cock or rooster, while a female is called a hen. Roosters are aggressive, with thicker legs and longer combs and wattles. Hackle and saddle feathers are also different in cocks and hens.
  3. Chicken domestication started in Southeast Asia or India around 7,400 years ago. The initial domestication of chickens was either for cockfighting or religious purposes.
  4. The domestic chicken is the most common bird in the world. Its estimated population is more than 22 billion. Red-billed quelea is the second-most populous bird, with an estimated population of 1.5 billion. (Source)
  5. The Ayam cemini chicken in Indonesia is one of the most pigmented animals on earth. All parts of its body, including feathers, beak, tongue, comb, toes, meat, and bones are bluish-black. Silkie, svarthona, and H’Mong breeds are the three other species have black skin and tissues. (Source)
  6. Chickens are omnivores and eat a variety of food. Their natural diet includes seeds, plants, insects, mice, frogs, etc.
  7. The world’s oldest chicken lived for 22 years before its death in 2011. This red quill gamefowl was from Maryland, USA. (Source)
  8. Chickens can only fly for short distances of a few yards. Their flight is poorer than their ancestor, red jungle fowl. It is because of their large and heavy flight muscles and small wings, which is the result of selective breeding. (Source)
  9. Immature male chickens (cockerels) are sometimes castrated and become capons (with tender and less gamy meat).
  10. Chickens are social animals that live in a single male-dominated group. They like to gossip and do many things together with their friends.
  11. rooster crows at sunrise or earlier, thanks to an internal clock. The purpose of crowing is to establish its territory.
  12. Chickens communicate through various sounds. These include cackling (when hens lay an egg), clucking (conversational), growling (warning), and others. (Source)
  13. A hen clucks unborn chicks inside eggs. They not only chirp back but also communicate with each other.
  14. After hatching from an egg, the newborn chick sleeps with one eye open for some days. It is due to the impact of light on the egg during the last few days of incubation. (Source)
  15. The heaviest chicken egg ever measured weighs 454 grams (16 oz.). A hen laid this egg in the USA on February 25, 1956. (Source)
  16. According to a study, chickens lay heavier and bigger eggs if they hear classical music. The eggs they produce after listening country music are heavier but not bigger in size. (Source)
  17. Hens can lay eggs without roosters, but their sperm is necessary for the fertilization of eggs. A rooster mates with hens several times a day. Sometimes, the rooster will perform a courtship dance before mating.
  18. A chicken named Mike remained alive for 18 months without a head. It happened because part of its brain that controls breathing, digestion, etc., remained intact. (Source)
  19. Modern poultry farming started in the UK in the 1920s and in the USA after WW2. Commercial farms rely on selected chicken breeds for mass production of meat and eggs.  
  20. Chicken and other domesticated birds are usually kept in poultry factory farms to obtain a high amount of meat and a large number of eggs. Ten billion broiler chickens (raised for meat) and 300 million egg-laying hens are raised in factory farms annually. These birds are either kept in battery cages or allowed “free-range” (not kept in cages) in these poultry farms. (Source)
    A poultry factory farm
    Billions of hens are raised in poultry factory farms every year 

  21. More than 50 billion chickens are raised and slaughtered yearly around the world. The USA (15,000 MT) and China (12,000 MT) are the biggest consumers of chicken meat. 
  22. There is almost no difference between broiler and organic chicken regarding the amount of vitamins, minerals, and protein content. The only notable difference is the high-fat content (especially in the skin) of broiler chickens. (Source)
  23. Broiler chickens reach their slaughter weight in just 6 to 7 weeks. But many die before that period due to heart failure, thirst, cancer, and infectious diseases.
  24. Hens start laying eggs after 18 weeks and continue laying eggs for 6 to 7 years. The initial two years are the most productive for egg-laying. 
  25. Hens naturally molt (lose their feathers) once a year in autumn. Forced molting is common for egg-laying hens in large factory farms. It happens after withholding their food for 5 to 21 days. This process restores the reproductive system of hens, after which they lay larger eggs. This practice is legal in the US but illegal in the EU, UK, and India. (Source)
  26. Chicken manure is the best natural fertilizer. It contains a higher amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, and potassium than other manures. Chicken manure is also rich in organic matter. (Source)
  27. Chickens have excellent short-term and long-term memory. Free-range chickens have a better memory than their caged counterparts due to their complex environment. (Source)
  28. Chickens have extensive binocular vision. It enables them to focus on near and distant objects at the same time. They can also move their eyes independently. Like other birds, chickens also have ultraviolet (UV) vision. (Source)
  29. Chicken is the first bird with a fully sequenced genome. It can assist as a model for genome sequence of the remaining 9,600 bird species. (Source)
  30. There are more than 500 chicken breeds around the world. These breeds are raised for meat, eggs, or pets.
  31. Apart from their economic value, chickens can also be kept as pets. These intelligent birds are friendly, inexpensive, and can easily be trained. They provide several benefits such as cleaning the garden, pest control, and supplying excellent fertilizer.
  32. Most of the flu vaccines in the USA are egg-based flu vaccines. These vaccines are based on fertilized hen’s eggs. (Source)
  33. Chickens have well-developed taste sense. They are sensitive to bitter and umami tastes, while their senses for sweet, sour, and salt are weak. (Source)
  34. About one out of 1,000 chicken eggs have double yolks. Eggs with double yolks are usually laid by young chickens 20 to 28 weeks old. It is almost impossible to get two chicks from a double-yolk egg. (Source)
  35. The highest number of yolks found in a hen egg ever is 9. This record was made in July 1971 in the USA. (Source)
  36. Wattles and combs are useful for chickens. They can not sweat, and these parts keep them cool due to their numerous capillaries. Wattles and combs also show sexual maturity and are used to attract a mate. (Source)
  37. The color of the eggshell depends on the breed of the chicken. Most breeds produce white or brown-colored shells, but few lay blue or blue-green eggs. The color of the eggshell is not related to nutrition. (Source)
  38. Chickens are very intelligent. They have object permanence which humans develop around age one. They can understand the logic and simple reasoning, which humans can comprehend after six years. These birds also can count and do basic arithmetic. (Source)
  39. In ancient times, cockfighting was a popular sport in China, India, Persia, and Greece. Currently, it is illegal in many countries. However, this cruel game is still popular in a few countries such as the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Haiti.
  40. Artificial incubation of chickens and other poultry eggs is an ancient process that started around 400 B.C. in Ancient Egypt. During this process, the egg receives the necessary temperature, humidity, and ventilation, while turning eggs is also important. The chicken eggs hatch after 21 days.
    An egg incubator
    Artificial egg incubation is an ancient technique

  41. Chickens can transmit a few diseases to humans. These include bird flu, E.coli, Salmonella, and others. Thoroughly cooking meat and boiling eggs can prevent the transmission of these diseases. 
  42. Chickens can be hypnotized by a technique known as “tonic immobility.” This hypnotism makes chickens lie still for up to 30 minutes. (Source)
  43. Like other birds and mammals, chickens also get REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. It is the reason that they dream while sleeping.
  44. Hens may eject male sperm after mating. This process assists them in discarding the sperm of less desirable roosters. (Source)
  45. Several mammals, birds, and reptiles eat chickens. Foxes, birds of prey, snakes, rodents, weasels, and opossums are the main predators of these birds.
  46. Most female animals have two functional ovaries, but chickens only use their left ovary. The right ovary stops development after the hatching of a female chick.
  47. The color of chicken egg yolk is different according to the diet of the hen. The yolk is dark yellow or orange if the hen eats carotenoid-rich foods. (Source)
  48. The cloudy egg white indicates the egg's freshness due to the dissolved CO2. The egg white of an aged egg becomes clearer. (Source)
  49. Hens usually lay eggs in the morning. On most occasions, it happens within six hours of sunrise. If these birds are kept inside, they need artificial light exposure to lay eggs. (Source)
  50. Like many other birds, chickens also have three eyelids. The third eyelid (the nictitating membrane) provides protection and moisture to the eyes.


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