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.
Alt-text: A pair of broilers.
Description: Broilers are chickens reared for meat.
Alt-text: Layer hens in a coop.
Description: Layer hens are used for the production of eggs.
Alt-text: An egg incubator.
Description: 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.
Alt-text: An inbred rooster.
Description: An inbred rooster is a rooster born through cross mating between different species of chickens.
Generally speaking, chickens were domesticated across Asia for Cockfighting.
Alt-text: A cockfight.
Description: 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.
•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 colour differentiation ability and they can also recognise up to a hundred different faces.
Hens are domesticated birds that belong to the species Gallus gallus domesticus. They are a subspecies of the red junglefowl and have been selectively bred for thousands of years for their eggs and meat. Here is some basic information about hens:
- Physical Characteristics:
- Hens are typically smaller and less colorful than roosters (male chickens). They have a more subdued plumage with shades of brown, white, or black feathers.
- They have a comb on top of their head, which can vary in shape and size depending on the breed. The comb can be single, rose, or pea-shaped.
- Hens have a wattle, which is a fleshy, red or pink appendage that hangs beneath their beaks.
- Lifespan: The average lifespan of a hen is around 5 to 10 years, although this can vary depending on factors such as breed and living conditions.
- Egg Production: Hens are primarily known for their egg-laying abilities. The number of eggs a hen can lay depends on the breed, age, and environmental factors. Some hens can produce over 300 eggs per year.
- Hens are social animals and often live in flocks. They establish a social hierarchy with a dominant hen.
- They are known to engage in dust baths, scratching the ground to find insects, and foraging for food.
- Hens are generally protective of their eggs and may become broody, meaning they will sit on a clutch of eggs to incubate them.
- Diet: Hens are omnivores and have a varied diet. They eat grains, seeds, insects, and sometimes small rodents or amphibians. Commercially raised hens are typically fed formulated poultry feed.
- Breeds: There are hundreds of chicken breeds, each with its own unique characteristics. Some common breeds of hens include the Rhode Island Red, Leghorn, Plymouth Rock, and Sussex.
- Housing: Hens require a safe and comfortable shelter, known as a coop, to protect them from predators and harsh weather conditions. Coops are often equipped with nesting boxes for egg-laying.
- Reproduction: Hens reproduce by laying eggs, which can be fertilized if there is a rooster present. The fertilized eggs can develop into chicks if incubated properly.
- Economic Importance: Chickens, including hens, are one of the most important sources of animal protein worldwide. They provide eggs and meat, making them a valuable livestock animal for food production.
- Cultural Significance: Chickens have cultural and symbolic significance in many societies. They are often associated with concepts of fertility, abundance, and prosperity. In some cultures, they are kept as pets, while in others, they play a central role in religious or ceremonial practices.
Hens are fascinating and valuable creatures, both in terms of their contributions to agriculture and their roles in various cultures around the world. They are not only a source of food but also provide companionship to those who raise them as pets.
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, my coplasmosis, colibacillosis, necrotic enteritis and botulism.
~ by Milisha Patil – erakina