ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Lowly, Humble Chicken

Updated on July 1, 2011

A Bad Rap

The chicken gets a bad rap. They’re the butt of many bad jokes and its’ name is hurled as an insult. E.I. You’re chicken, cackling old hen, old bitty and infinitum. But seriously, chickens are the world's most common domestic bird. They out number people 4 to 1. That translates to a global population of about 24 billion. They are raised for meat, eggs, show, and also as pets.

And amazingly, most people know very little about the bird. Most authorities agree the origins of the domestic chicken Gallus Domesticus came from the Red Jungle Fowl of Asia. DNA research has found their domestication occurred about 8,000 years ago in what is now Thailand and Vietnam.

Present day chickens are larger and more productive than the ancestral Red Jungle Fowl. Gallus Domesticus belongs to the family Phasianidae which encompasses pheasants and quails. Therefore, it’s related to such birds as the Ring-necked Pheasant, partridge, turkey and peafowl.

Raising Chickens

Chickens are raised mainly for egg and meat production and usually done in one of two ways. The intensive commercial system or the traditional rural scavenging backyard system. In rural communities the flocks are small but important.

They provide food for family consumption and are sold for additional income. Rural chickens also provide natural garden fertilizer and are an integral part of natures’ pest control system. In many countries they are owned and managed by women and children.

Today’s, bird has been selectively bred for various characteristics and there are about 150 different varieties. Their life span is about seven years with a few varieties living a little longer.

The Pecking Order

Chickens begin mating and laying eggs at about six months. Hens in the wild lay eggs in the spring and raise their brood during the summer. However, hens in captivity lay eggs at any time and will continue laying them if the eggs are taken. Fertilized eggs remaining in the nest will hatch in about three weeks. Their life span is about seven years with a few varieties living a little longer.

People sometimes refer to” the pecking order” in our society. This expression actually comes from the hierarchy order established within a flock of chickens.

For instance, if there is one rooster in the flock, he naturally becomes the dominant chicken or “alpha-rooster”. He occupies the highest position in the pecking order and mates with most of the hens. One of the hens will become the dominant hen. This pair will peck at the rest of the flock, but none of the other chickens will peck them back. If there are two roosters, the less dominant becomes second in line, or “beta-rooster”, with a corresponding beta-hen.

The rest then establishes a pecking order descending to the lowest chicken which gets pecked by the rest. Laying hens tend to dominate over younger hens. If no rooster is present, a hen may take the dominant role, sometimes even growing small spurs.

The output in terms of eggs is about 50 eggs a hen per year. And often it takes more than 6 months to produce a broiler ready to slaughter. They eat food from their environment such as insects and seeds. In addition they may get scraps and leftovers from the kitchen.

In contrast commercial systems are more expensive, labor intensive and sophisticated. But output is higher with about 280 - 320 eggs for each hen per year and only 35 - 40 days to raise a broiler.

Here are some interesting facts about chickens. Did you know the more hours of daylight there are the more eggs a hen will lay? Chickens will also mourn lost flock members as well as their human caretakers who are absent for an extended time.

Chickens will scratch in areas of fine, dry soil and then take a dirt bath in it. This helps remove parasites on their feathers and skin. Well adjusted chickens kept as pets like attention and enjoy being petted. They make good pets but don’t fare well alone. And alektorophobia is the fear of chickens.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      8 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Pam,When I lived in Arkansas my wife and I bought about 100 chicks and raised them free range on our farm. A freeze came, killing a few of them. We didn't find the bodies. Later, some loose local dogs who had found them, began killing and eating them. Unfortunately, I started shooting the dogs. But the owners soon started keeping their hunting dogs where they belonged...on their own property.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      JY, Very interesting hub. Many years ago we had about 6 chickens and a rooster. We were starting to get some eggs, etc. Then a loose or wild dog got in our yard one night and killed everyone of them. It was really sad.

      I liked all the details in your hub as I really didn't know a lot about them back then or now.

    • tnderhrt23 profile image


      8 years ago

      Interesting, well-written hub!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)