Most smallholders have a backyard flock, so here are some fun facts about chickens.
The chicken, Gallus gallus domesticus, is a domestic subspecies of the red junglefowl, a member of the pheasant family that is native to Asia.
This bird was probably first domesticated for the purpose of cockfights, not as food.
Chickens aren’t flightless, they can get airborne enough to make it over a fence or into a tree.
These birds are omnivores. They’ll eat seeds and insects but also larger prey like small mice and lizards.
According to the FAO, there are about 25.9 billion chickens living in the world. So there are more of them than any other bird species.
Chickens have good memories and can recognise different birds in the flock, as well as human faces.
To find out how clever chickens are click here.
A rooster will often crow from a vantage point above his territory so he can make others more aware of his presence and so that his “songs” travel farther.
Chickens use a variety of sounds to communicate as meaning as 30 different meanings.
A rooster announces to a flock of chickens that he’s found food with a “took, took, took.” But the hens don’t always pay attention if they already know that there is food around.
Roosters perform a little dance called ‘tidbitting’ in which they make sounds (food calls) and move their head up and down, picking up and dropping a bit of food.
Researchers have found that females prefer males that often perform tidbitting and have larger, brighter combs on top of their heads.
Scientists think that the rooster’s wattle–the dangly bit beneath his beak–helps him to gain a hen’s attention when he is tidbitting.
Where there is more than one cockerel in a group, the dominant rooster is the one who will crow first in the morning, followed by its subordinates, in descending order of social rank.
A female chicken will mate with many different males but, apparently, if she decides, after the deed is done, that she doesn’t want a particular rooster’s offspring, she can eject his sperm. This occurs most often when the male is lower in the pecking order.
Along with these fun facts about chickens, did you know that they dream while they sleep.
And which came first, the chicken or the egg? Well, all vertebrates have eggs, but the hard-shelled variety first appeared among reptiles.
To read other articles about poultry click here.
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