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Chicken Facts

Chicken Facts

Here chook, chook, chook! Find out some amazing facts about chooks.

  • Egg-laying chooks are descended from the Asian red jungle fowl (gallus gallus spadiceus) and are thought to have been domesticated for at least 8-10 thousand years.
  • Domestication was thought to have started in Vietnam more than 10,000 years ago, but other sources claim Europeans had hens as early as 600 BC and that they were brought by Columbus on his New World voyage to China in 1400 AC. Whichever, chickens are believed to be the first domestic animal.
  • A rooster is one of the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac. The next Year of the Rooster is 2017. If you were born in 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, or 2005 you’re thought to have a flamboyant or “cocky” personality!
  • Alektorophobia is a fear of chickens.
  • There are 150 species of chicken and at least 200 different varieties and breeds.
  • The chicken is the closest living relative to the T-Rex.
  • China has the most chickens with around four billion.
  • There are more chickens on Earth than humans – in fact, estimates show this number is more than double.
  • Different breeds of chickens produce different coloured eggs – blue, blue-green, red and speckled eggs are not uncommon.
  • Hens start laying at 18-20 weeks. The colour of the first egg she lays will be the colour she lays for life.
  • How often a hen lays depends on its breed – some lay daily, others only once or twice a week.
  • Hens are typically most productive in their first two years of life.
  • Older hens will lay larger, but fewer, eggs.
  • Hens will not typically lay eggs in the dark.
  • A hen can lay between 250 and 325 eggs per year.
  • A hen requires only 24 to 26 hours, 140 grams of feed and 300 millilitres of water to produce an egg.
  • A hen will turn the egg up to 50 times a day to prevent the yolk sticking to the side of the shell.
  • Half an hour after laying, she will start the egg production process all over again.
  • Hens often sing an “egg song” before, during or after laying an egg.
  • A chicken’s heart beats 4 to 5 times faster than a human’s, at approximately 300 beats per minute.
  • A rooster is male, a hen is female; both are chickens.
  • If a rooster is not present in a flock of hens, a hen will often take on this role, stop laying eggs, and begin to crow.
  • Chickens are social animals that show sophisticated group behaviours and establish social hierarchies – hence the term “pecking order”.
  • Chickens can recognize each other’s faces and will avoid chickens they don’t know.
  • Chickens have more than 30 distinct cries that are used to communicate a wealth of information – including the presence of food or a predator. They even have separate alarm calls depending on whether a predator is travelling by land or sea!
  • Chickens learn by example and so may be encouraged to lay by the presence of a fake (or real) egg in a nest box.
  • A broody hen of any breed can be used to hatch eggs and raise chicks from other hens of any breed
  • It is illegal to eat a chicken with a fork in Gainesville USA, the “Chicken Capital of the World”.
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