Chickens have long been part of the world’s history. Facts about Raising Chickens is that they are believed to be domesticated for cockfighting purposes, initially, before becoming food sources. Today, they serve both purposes across the globe.
Facts About Raising Chickens
Scientifically known as Gallus domesticus, the chicken is said to be first tamed in China around 6000 BC. Four thousand years later, flocks of them moved to India, eventually spreading to other parts of the world. The bird as a male adult is called a rooster, while its female counterpart is called a hen. Young chickens, newly-hatched ones in particular, are called chicks.
One type of chicken subject to Chinese-origin debate is the Chinese Silkie chicken, which are popular for their dark meat. It is unknown whether or not they originated from China, where they are called “wu go ji”. Their dark flesh is attributed to a condition called genetic fibromelanosis, which causes extreme pigmentation of cells.
Chickens abide by a rigid social system referred to as the “pecking order”. This structure puts one bird dominant over another. This can be easily observed while feeding – dominant birds will be intimidating, pecking at submissive ones, stealing their food or chasing them away.
Though it may sound weird, chickens are also touted to be the closest living relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex – arguably the most popular dinosaur thanks to popular culture. The link lies in the oldest proteins ever found, contained in the remains of an adolescent female T. Rex which lived 68 million years from the past.
As it turns out, the protein’s chemical structure reveals an evolutionary relation between chickens and the dinosaurs that reigned during the Cretaceous Period. The fossil, a T. Rex’s leg bone, is unearthed in 2003 by Jack Horner of the Museum of the Rockies. It was found at the Hell Creek Formation, an area that spans Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Chickens have their own “language” too, in the form of about 30 distinct vocalizations used for communication. But what’s even more interesting is the fact that they are able to communicate even before their birth. Through a purring sound, the mother hen “talks” to her eggs, and the unborn chicks respond through peeps – short, soft and high-pitched sounds.
It must also be pointed that chickens are not “dumb”. In fact, mother hens serve as good examples by teaching their chicks not to consume grains which could be bad for them. In addition, they tend to copy the behavior of other chickens, which could be helpful in some cases. But perhaps the most fascinating fact about these birds is that they are able to recognize up to 100 faces, so the next time you see one, be sure you are remembered.
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The Pros and Cons of Keeping a Rooster
How do chickens mate? It all starts with their own version of “courting”, of course. This is actually simple – the rooster tries to impress the hen through a series of movements that highlight his beauty and strength. Unfortunately, most hens just walk away, but things can get into a more aggressive turn and result to an engagement activity/position known as “treading”.
The rooster gets into a piggy-back position; he stands on the hen’s back and restrains her neck feathers. It is vital for him to maintain balance in this event. The hen lowers herself, spreads her wings to the side and allows him to hop to deliver sperm.
Chickens mate without copulatory organs, though the rooster has a pair of testes, and the hen has a pair of ovaries. Both sexes instead have an external orifice called cloaca. As these touch together, the rooster transfers sperm into the hen’s reproductive tract.
This is called the “cloacal kiss”, and after the act, each return to his/her own business. Sperm lives inside the hen’s oviduct for about a month.
Chickens Laying Eggs
One of the most puzzling questions to mankind – which often comes as a joke – asks which among the chicken and the egg came first. Surprisingly, this inquiry has been raised since 384 BC, and some of the most well-known people from history have expressed their responses to the circular reference.
Aristotle claimed that both had always existed. Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking said it’s the egg that came first. However, it was discovered in 2010 that eggs cannot be produced without a protein called Ovocleidin-17. This protein, meanwhile, is produced by chickens, which appears to support the stance that the winged, grown birds are first to exist on earth. Still, this is emphasized to be inconclusive, leaving the mystery unsolved in millennia.
Hens begin laying eggs about 18 to 21 weeks (nearly 6 months) after their own hatching. It is important to learn, however, that they are able to produce eggs even without the presence of a rooster. It takes about a day for one hen to make an egg, and she is able to produce another an hour or less later.
But for a hen to produce fertile, hatchable eggs, a rooster will be necessary. Roosters reach sexual maturity in about 4 to 5 months of age and can remain fertile for years.
The egg-laying process begins with a small gland located near the hen’s eye. This gland is photosensitive; light triggers the release of eggs. A fully-formed egg is pushed through muscular contraction. It goes out through the same channel as the hen’s waste, but there’s nothing to worry here. Only one canal access is allowed to the vent every time. Eggs come in consistent shape as they follow the form of the hen’s uterus.
This might be disturbing, but chickens, sometimes, eat eggs. This happens mostly when an egg is broken by accident. For human consumption, eggs should be gathered daily and refrigerated quickly to ensure freshness.
Chickens That Lay Blue Eggs
Araucanas, Ameraucanas and Cream Legbars are three breeds of chicken that lay blue eggs. This hue is caused by a pigment called oocyanin (sometimes called oocyan) which goes through the shell. This pigment is a by-product of bile production. As a result, the shell will be blue inside and outside.
Interestingly, researchers have found that blue eggs actually happened because of a harmless retrovirus. It is said to be a 500-year-old mutation that began in South America and China, which explains why some breeds in areas of both regions produce such eggs to date. This particular virus, called EAV-HP, mixes its own genetic data into the host through a backward process; it uses its RNA to create DNA that is later integrated into the host’s DNA.
Nevertheless, the occurrence of blue eggs must not be treated as a rare occasion or a supernatural event. Color has little to do with nutrition, as blue eggs contain approximately as much cholesterol as other eggs. Each contain about 185 milligram of cholesterol, which supplies around 60% of the total amount recommended for healthy adults daily. It is said that blue eggs will not raise blood cholesterol levels significantly; saturated and trans fats have greater effect on one’s total and “bad” cholesterol.
In essence, a chicken hatchery is a haven for hatching and incubating eggs. In general, hatcheries are developed to serve different purposes – from ensuring food supply to maintaining conservation. For live, young animals, these environments function as “nurseries”, becoming their home until they are ready to be moved to other locations.
Chicken hatcheries are often manned by veterinarians and biologists, supervising workers who do most of the ground work. Activities include safe and proper handling of eggs, monitoring of incubation and provision of nutrition, water and extra needs to older chickens, among others. Hatcheries must remain sanitary at all times, to ensure the health of the eggs, birds and humans within.
Starting a chicken hatchery is among the many routes of poultry production. It can be difficult, but with the right information, hardwork and patience, it can be a good source of income. Caring for the parent flock is perhaps the earliest consideration to keep in mind, alongside a well-planned financial management system.
Note that chicken hatcheries need not be limited to chickens, as it can also house other types of poultry birds such as turkeys and ducks. While sanitary principles may be the same, care for these other birds will require different procedures.
As a staple food source, chickens have certainly become part of our lives, providing nourishment to many parts of the world. Because their life is essentially a cycle, proper care must be consistent, whether it’s for a grown chicken or a hatching egg. When one finds value in both, whichever came first will no longer matter. The beauty of these birds, after all, is enough to be thankful for.