Hens, or furthermore known as chickens, are extensive birds found all over the world. Scientifically known as Gallus gallus, they belong to the family Phasianidae of the order Galliformes. They are bred for their meat in modern times. Although, in the ancient period, these feathered beings rose for cockfighting or special rituals. According to the 2021 census, approximately 25.09 billion chickens exist as of now. Genetic studies reveal that the origin of these has to be somewhere around regions of India, China, Malaysia, Burma, Thailand, Nepal, Vietnam and Cambodia. In the year 2020,  the annual Egg production in India alone was around 114 billion. 

Species and their usage:

Chickens bred for meat are addressed as Broilers. These are a separate specific breed particularly for meat because where normal species take six to seven weeks to reach slaughter size, broilers take less than six weeks to reach the stage. A free-range broiler is slaughtered at the age of around fourteen weeks. Chickens that are used only for yielding eggs are labelled as Layer hens. These are species that need to be taken care of since they’re a day old. Layer hens begin laying eggs at around 18-19 weeks of age and halt at 72-78 weeks.

 A pair of broilers
Broilers are chickens reared for meat
Layer hens in a coop
Layer hens are used for the production of eggs
An egg incubator
An egg incubator helps hatch eggs artificially

The eggs of layer hens are taken away and kept warm in a manmade manner which is called incubation. An incubator is a machine that is set to the right temperature and heat essential for the growth of a chick inside the egg. The regular growth period of an egg is around 21 days but overall depends on the temperature and humidity maintained by the incubator. The common temperature set in the  Incubator is around 37°C and has to be maintained as even a minor change of 1°C can slow the process of hatching.

Modern-day chickens are said to evolve from water or ground-dwelling fowls which endured even through the Cretaceous Paleogene extinction event that directed the wipeout of the dinosaurs, Generally, domestic chickens freely cross mate with the red jungle-fowl, a descendant of the primitive Gallus gallus.

An inbred rooster
An inbred rooster is a rooster born through cross mating between different species of chickens

Generally speaking, chickens were domesticated across Asia for Cockfighting.

 A cockfight
A cockfight is a duel match between two adult roosters

A cockfight is a duel between two adult roosters. It involves bloodshed and is held in a ring, named a cockpit. Both the players tend to attack each other in the genital areas and one of them might die fighting as well. Fowls are been bred for this sport for about 6000 years. These fowls are especially nurtured and serviced for this game. One more motive behind breeding a hen is to keep it as a pet. People may or may not use their eggs or their meat but many people throughout the world admire chickens as any other pet.

Fun facts:

  • Chickens have the brain as developed as human toddlers. 
  • Chickens are ascertained to show mathematical calculations carried out in their brains.
  • Chickens have functions similar to human qualities- they dream while sleeping.
  • Chickens have strong color differentiation ability and they can also recognize up to a hundred different faces.

Common diseases/ infests affecting hens:

Maladies that commonly occur amongst chickens are bird flu, fowl typhoid, yeast infection, red mite, ticks, blackhead disease and salmonella. Serious diseases include squamous cell cancer, mycoplasmosis, colibacillosis, necrotic enteritis and botulism. 

 ~ by Milisha Patil

Content Writer(Erakina by RTMN)


Tags: chickens, hens, origin, species

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