They cluck, they peck, and they know they own the yard! To some, they’re the secret ingredient in a perfect sandwich, but to the ancient world, chickens had a deep religious and social significance. Keep on reading to learn 25 clucking facts about Chickens.
Fact 1: Chickens are a domestic subspecies of the red junglefowl that is native to Asia.
- The red junglefowl was first domesticated about 5,000 years ago in India.
Fact 2: There are more chickens in the world than there are humans.
- There are about 23 billion chickens on Earth.
Fact 3: Humans domesticate and keep chickens mainly for food and rarely as pets.
- However, chickens initially were raised for cockfighting and special ceremonies. It wasn’t until the Hellenistic period that chickens were kept for food.
Fact 4: In the UK and Ireland, adult male chickens are called “cocks”.
- But in the US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, male chickens are known as “roosters”.
Fact 5: Female chickens over a year old are called ‘hens’.
- Younger chickens, on the other hand, are called pullets. However, in the egg-laying industry, a pullet becomes a hen when she begins to lay eggs, at just 4-5 months of age.
Fact 6: Chickens typically live for 5 to 10 years depending on the breed.
- The world’s oldest chicken was 16, then it died of heart failure.
Fact 7: You can distinguish a male chicken from a female chicken by checking out their plumage.
- Roosters have long flowing tails and shiny pointed feathers on their necks (hackles) and backs (saddle), which are brighter than those of a female.
Fact 8: Chickens love living together in groups called “flocks”.
- They will even establish a ‘pecking order’ based on the dominant chicken. Dominant flock members will usually have more access to food and nesting locations.
Fact 9: Chickens perform a little dance called ‘tidbitting’.
- This when a rooster drops a particularly tasty bug/seed at the foot of a favourite hen. The rooster then starts bobbing his head, and makes throaty clucking sounds, while hopping excitedly from one foot to another. This is to attract the hen’s attention and to show off what he has found.
Fact 10: A female chicken can choose not to carry a rooster’s offspring by ejecting his sperm.
- This occurs often when the male is lower down the pecking order.
Fact 11: An inexperienced predator is no match for a gang of chickens.
- There was a report in March 2019 about a young fox who was henpecked to death by furious french chickens, after being trapped in their henhouse.
Fact 12: Over 50 billion chickens are reared each year for their meat and eggs.
- More than 8 billion chickens are slaughtered annually for meat in the United States alone.
Fact 13: Chickens are social, inquisitive, and intelligent animals.
- Certain breeds, such as Silkies and many bantam varieties, are generally docile and are often recommended as good pets around children with disabilities
Fact 14: They play a key role in the Hindu cremation ceremony in Indonesia.
- In Indonesia, chickens are believed to have the ability to channel evil spirits that might be present during a cremation ceremony. To ward off spirits, a chicken is tethered by the leg and kept present at the ceremony.
Fact 15: Chickens have better colour vision than humans.
- Their vision encompasses not only the red, blue and green wavelengths that humans can typically see, but also ultraviolet wavelengths that we humans can’t see.
Fact 16: The Avian influence, more commonly known as “bird flu”, can make a chicken so ill it will die.
- It’s also extremely contagious. Since 2013 there have been 1,568 confirmed human cases, and 616 deaths worldwide from avian flu according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Fact 17: Chickens will communicate with other chickens using more than 24 different vocalizations.
- Each vocalization has its distinct meaning. They tell each other what they see, including warning them about different predators.
Fact 18: They’re the closest living relatives to the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex.
- Researchers compared the dinosaur collagen with 21 living animals, including humans, chimps, mice, chickens, ostriches, alligators and salmon. The T-rex’s collagen proved to be most similar to chickens and ostriches; its next closest match was to alligators.
Fact 19: Vatican City is the only place in the world with no chickens.
- However, the Vatican does keep a flock of chickens in the city of Castel Gandolfo which is 26 miles away from the Vatican.
Fact 20: A chicken can be both male and female
- This rare phenomenon is called ‘bilateral gynandromorphism’. A chicken with this condition has half a roosters body and half a hens.
Fact 21: A chicken usually has 8,000 feathers.
- Despite this, a chicken is unable to fly. This is because its body to wing-span proportion isn’t compatible.
Fact 22: Chickens need their beauty sleep.
- Like us humans, chickens need 6-8 hours of sleep to be in tip-top shape.
Fact 23: Chickens in the wild lay only 10 to 15 eggs a year after mating season.
- The hens, who are bred by the egg industry to produce eggs every single day, often suffer from painful reproductive disorders and become exhausted after just a few years.
Fact 24: A chicken is smarter than your average toddler.
- Chickens have in fact exhibited mathematical reasoning and self-control properties. They can even remember/recognize over 100 different faces (both human and animal).
Fact 25: You can use chicken poop to light up your home!
- A single chicken’s year’s worth of poop can generate enough electricity to light a 100-watt light bulb for several hours.