Let talk Chickens

Since I always stress the importance of knowing your food. Today, I would like to talk about chickens.

Barred Rock Hen

The breed has survived at large for about 8,000 years—rare for a wild ancestor of a domesticated animal.

It is thought that the nearest relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex is a chicken.

This bird was probably first domesticated for the purpose of cockfights, not as food.

Over 9 billion chickens are raised for food annually in the US.

With 25 billion chickens in the world, there are more of them than any other bird species.

Chickens doing the hunt and peck for bugs

Chickens are omnivores. They eat seeds and insects but also larger prey like small mice and lizards.

Chick
A pullet (Take note that the comb is small and low to the head. The wattles are also tight to the beak.)

 

 

 

 

Baby chickens are chicks.

 

 

 

 

 

Female chickens are pullets until they are old enough to lay eggs and become hens.

Laying Hen (Note the larger comb and wattles)
Rhode Island Red Rooster

 

 

 

 

 

Male chickens are called roosters, cocks or cockerels, depending on the country you are in. A rooster announces to a flock of chickens that he’s found food with a “took, took, took.” But the hens don’t pay attention of they already know there is food around. Roosters perform a little dance called “tidbitting” in which he makes sounds (food calls) and moves his head up and down, picking up and dropping a bit of food. Researchers have found that females prefer a male that often performs tidbitting and has a larger, brighter combs on top of his head. 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.

Chickens aren’t completely flightless. They can get airborne enough to make it over a fence or into a tree. The chicken can travel up to nine miles per hour.

The chicken was the first bird to have its genome sequenced, in 2004.

In Gainesville, Georgia, the chicken capital of the world, it is illegal to eat chicken with a fork.

Alektorophobia is the fear of chickens.

The egg-laying process for a chicken begins in its eye. Chickens lay eggs only after receiving a light cue, either from natural sunlight  or artificial light illumination. The light stimulates a photo-receptive gland near the chicken’s eye, which in turn triggers the release of an egg cell from the chicken’s ovary.

A hen must eat about four pounds of feed to produce one dozen eggs.

A chicken will lay bigger and stronger eggs if you change the lighting in a way to make her think a day is 28 hours long.

Some farmers add marigolds to the feed of their chickens to make the yolks of their eggs a darker yellow. A diet rich in corn will also make the yolks darker in color.

Most eggs are laid between 7 and 11 am.

Eggs are a good source of lutein, important for eye health.

The waste produced by one chicken in its lifetime can supply enough electricity to run a 100-watt bulb for five hours.

Agricultural researchers have found a carbonization process that converts ordinary poultry manure into granules and powders that can mop up pollutants in water.

Researchers have found a way to turn chicken feathers into strong, plastic composites for products as varied as car dashboards and boat exteriors.

Researchers at NASA are testing a new jet fuel made from chicken fat.

Feathers make good paper, even for filters or decorative wallpaper. They work best combined with wood pulp to increase the number of times the fiber can be recycled.

The superfine size and shape of feathers make them well suited to filtration needs.

Chickens also require space. They will need up to 3 ft. of floor space in their house per bird. They also require lots of ventilation.

Nest boxes should be a minimum of 1 ft. wide by 1 ft. deep and be at least 1 ft. tall.

Chickens like to roost at night. They require up to 8 inches of space per bird while on roost.

Chickens consume approximately 3 grams of fat per day. Yet, the average egg yolk contains approximately 6 grams of fat. Much of the fat found in yolks comes from synthesized carbohydrates and protein.

2.5% of the fat found on a chick in located on the abdomen. Low-fat whole chickens sold in the supermarket have had this area removed.

Chickens have a focus range of 20 diopters, twice that of a 20 year old human. It vision is considered the finest of all animals.  They have both monocular and binocular vision with a 300 degree field of view.

To predict egg color, look at the hen’s earlobe. If it’s white, then the egg will most likely be white. If it’s red, the egg will most likely be brown. This works about 75% of the time.

Eggs will last up to 5 weeks in the refrigerator. To check the freshness of your egg: fill a container with at least six inches of water. If the egg drops to the bottom, it is still a good egg. If the egg floats to the top, get rid of it.

 

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