Monday, March 26, 2007


A chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) is a type of domesticated bird which is often raised as a type of poultry. It is believed to be descended from the wild Indian and south-east Asian Red Junglefowl.

With a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world than any other bird. They provide two sources of food frequently consumed by humans: their meat, and their eggs.

Monday, February 26, 2007

General biology and habitat

Male chickens are known as roosters (in the U.S., Canada and Australia), cocks, or cockerels. Castrated roosters are called capons. Female chickens are known as hens, or 'chooks' in Australian English. Young females are known as pullets. Roosters can usually be differentiated from hens by their striking plumage, marked by long flowing tails and bright pointed feathers on their necks.

However, in some breeds, such as the Sebright, the cock only has slightly pointed neck feathers, and the identification must be made by looking at the comb. Chickens have a fleshy crest on their heads called a comb or cockscomb, and a fleshy piece of hanging skin under their beak called a wattle. These organs help to cool the bird by redirecting blood flow to the skin. Both the male and female have distinctive wattles and combs. In males, the combs are often more prominent, though this is not the case in all varieties.

Domestic chickens are typically fed commercially prepared feed that includes a protein source as well as grains. Chickens often scratch at the soil to get at adult insects and larvae or seed. Incidents of cannibalism can occur when a curious bird pecks at a preexisting wound or during fighting (even among female birds). This is exacerbated in close quarters. In commercial egg and meat production this is controlled by trimming the beak (removal of ⅔ of the top half and occasionally ⅓ of the lower half of the beak).

Domestic chickens are not capable of long distance flight, although they are generally capable of flying for short distances such as over fences. Chickens will sometimes fly to explore their surroundings, but usually only to flee perceived danger. Because of flight risk, chickens raised in open-air pens generally have one of their wings clipped by the breeder — the tips of the longest feathers on one of the wings are cut, resulting in unbalanced flight which the bird cannot sustain for more than a few meters (more on wing clipping).

Chickens are gregarious birds and live together as a flock. They have a communal approach to the incubation of eggs and raising of young. Individual chickens in a flock will dominate others, establishing a "pecking order," with dominant individuals having priority for access to food and nesting locations. Removing hens or roosters from a flock causes a temporary disruption to this social order until a new pecking order is established.

Chickens will try to lay in nests that already contain eggs, and have been known to move eggs from neighbouring nests into their own. Some farmers use fake eggs made from plastic or stone to encourage hens to lay in a particular location. The result of this behavior is that a flock will use only a few preferred locations, rather than having a different nest for every bird.

Hens can also be extremely stubborn about always laying in the same location. It is not unknown for two (or more) hens to try to share the same nest at the same time. If the nest is small, or one of the hens is particularly determined, this may result in chickens trying to lay on top of each other.

Contrary to popular belief, roosters do not crow only at dawn, but may crow at any time of the day or night. Their crowing - a loud and sometimes shrill call - is a territorial signal to other roosters. However, crowing may also result from sudden disturbances within their surroundings.

Recent studies have shown that chickens (and possibly other bird species) still retain the genetic blueprints to produce teeth in the jaws, although these are dormant in living animals. These are a holdover from primitive birds such as Archaeopteryx, which were descended from theropod dinosaurs.

Friday, January 26, 2007


When a rooster finds food he may call the other chickens to eat it first. He does this by clucking in a high pitch as well as picking up and dropping the food. This behavior can also be observed in mother hens, calling their chicks. In some cases the rooster will drag the wing opposite the hen on the ground, while circling her. This is part of chicken courting ritual. When a hen is used to coming to his "call" the rooster may mount the hen and proceed with the fertilization.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Going broody

Sometimes a hen will stop laying and instead will focus on the incubation of eggs, a state that is commonly known as going broody. A broody chicken will sit fast on the nest, and protest or peck in defense if disturbed or removed, and will rarely leave the nest to eat, drink, or dust bathe. While brooding, the hen maintains constant temperature and humidity, as well as turning the eggs regularly.

At the end of the incubation period, which is an average of 21 days, the eggs (if fertilized) will hatch, and the broody hen will take care of her young. Since individual eggs do not all hatch at exactly the same time (the chicken can only lay one egg approximately every 25 hours), the hen will usually stay on the nest for about two days after the first egg hatches. During this time, the newly-hatched chicks live off the egg yolk they absorb just before hatching. The hen can sense the chicks peeping inside the eggs, and will gently cluck to stimulate them to break out of their shells. If the eggs are not fertilized by a rooster and do not hatch, the hen will eventually lose interest and leave the nest.

Modern egg-laying breeds rarely go broody, and those that do often stop part-way through the incubation cycle. Some breeds, such as the Cochin, Cornish and Silkie, regularly go broody and make excellent maternal figures.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Artificial incubation

Chicken egg incubation can successfully occur artificially as well. Nearly all chicken eggs will hatch after 21 days of good conditions - 99.5 °F (37.5°C) and around 55% relative humidity (increase to 70% in the last three days of incubation to help soften egg shell). Many commercial incubators are industrial-sized with shelves holding tens of thousands of eggs at a time, with rotation of the eggs a fully automated process.

Home incubators are usually small boxes (styrofoam incubators are popular) and hold a few to 50 eggs. Eggs must be turned three to five times each day, rotating at least 90 degrees. If eggs aren't turned, the embryo inside will stick to the shell and likely will be hatched with physical defects. This process is natural; hens will stand up three to five times a day and shift the eggs around with their beak.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Other brands

Athletic Works is a brand for athletic clothing, such as gym shorts. The brand is also used for sports equipment.
Faded Glory is a brand for classic clothing and shoes.
George is a brand of clothing originally launched in the UK, aimed at young people who want to look fashionable on a tight budget. The name George, comes from the name of the original designer George Davies, who started the range in the early-1990s. The brand is also used on baby clothing.
Kid Connection is a brand used for a variety of products targeted for children, including toys and clothing.
Life is a brand of men's underwear styled by Jockey. The range includes briefs, boxers, boxer-briefs, thongs, and undershirts.
Metro 7 is Wal-Mart's newest brand of womens apparel, that was released in the fall of 2006.
No Boundaries, abbreviated on its labels as NoBo, is a line of apparel and home furnishings targeted at teenagers and young college students. The line uses trendy colors and designs on products ranging from hats to lamps to beanbag chairs.
Puritan is a brand for men's clothing.
Simply Basic features family-oriented clothing products such as pants and socks. In 2006, Wal-Mart released a number of products under the Simply Basic brand in the Health and Beauty department. These products to some extent correspond to products already under the Equate brand, but are priced lower.

Great Value includes household items such as glass cleaner and light bulbs, as well as food items such as peanut butter and snack crackers. The primary difference between Great Value and Sam's American Choice is that the former consists of items most consumers have on their shopping lists, making price the only factor, while items of the latter can become impulse purchases for some consumers. In recent years, some Sam's Choice items have been changed to the Great Value brand.

Get It Together products include furniture and housewares items.
HomeTrends products include large and small furniture, small appliances, and home office products.
Mainstays products include curtains, bedding, some small home furnishings, and various other home fashion products.

Color Works is the brand used for paint.
Durabrand is the name used for home electronics such as televisions, CD players, surround sound systems, and even blank recordable media (CD-R and DVD-R). The Durabrand name is also used on some small appliances.
Equate is a brand used for consumable pharmacy and health and beauty items, such as shaving cream, skin lotion, over-the-counter medications, and pregnancy tests.
EverStart is the brand for automotive batteries. The brand is also used for battery related accessories, such as jumper cables.
ilo is another brand used for electronics. It is used for LCD TVs, LCD monitors, DVD players/recorders, and MP3 players.
Ol' Roy is a brand of dog food. Its namesake comes from Sam Walton's bird dog and has become the number one selling brand of dog food in the United States.
Ozark Trail is a brand used for outdoor equipment.
ReliOn describes itself as "Wal-Mart's healthcare brand." It consists chiefly of medical equipment in the following categories: blood pressure monitoring, diabetes monitoring, and cough and cold-related products (such as humidifiers and thermometers).
Spring Valley is the brand for vitamins and other nutritional supplements.
Special Kitty is a brand of cat food and litter.
SuperTech is Wal-Mart's brand of motor oil that is found in the automotive departments. The brand is also offered at those locations that have a Tire and Lube Express. The SuperTech name is also used on other consumable automotive products, including oil filters, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluid.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Chickens as food

The meat of the chicken, also called "chicken," is a type of poultry. Because of its relatively low cost among meats, chicken is one of the most used meats in the world. Nearly all parts of the bird can be used for food, and the meat is cooked in many different ways around the world. Popular chicken dishes include fried chicken, chicken soup, marinated chicken wings, tandoori chicken, butter chicken, and chicken rice. Chicken is also a staple of fast food restaurants such as KFC (most products), McDonald's (chicken sandwiches, chicken nuggets) and Burger King. Chicken has a fairly neutral flavour and texture, and is used as a reference point for describing other foods; many are said to 'taste like chicken' if they are indistinctive.