Poultry Posted By Admin
08/02/06


Poultry is the class of domesticated fowl (birds) used for food or for their eggs. These most typically are members of the orders Galliformes (such as chickens and turkeys), and Anseriformes (waterfowl such as ducks and geese).

The word poultry is often used to refer to the meat of these birds. In a more general sense, it may refer to the meat of other birds, such as pigeons or doves, or game birds like pheasants.


  Chicken General biology and habitat Posted By Admin
08/02/06


Male chickens are known as roosters (in the U.S., Canada and Australia), cocks, or cockerels if they are young. Female chickens are known as hens, or 'chooks' in Australasian English. 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. Both the male and female have distinctive wattles and combs. These organs help to cool the bird by redirecting bloodflow to the skin. In males, the combs are often more prominent, though this is not the case in all varieties.

Chickens have a flesh crest on their heads called a comb and a fleshy piece of hanging skin under their beak called a wattle. Chickens are often kept in gardens, not just in farms, and can make loving and gentle pets.

Chickens are omnivores and will feed on small seeds, herbs and leaves, grubs, insects and even small mammals like mice, if they can get them. 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 larva or seed. Incidents of cannibalism can occur when a curious bird pecks at a pre-existing wound or from over-crowding. This is exacerbated in close quarters. In commercial production this is controlled with chick "de-beaking" (removal of 2/3 of the top half and 1/3 of the lower half of the beak). This "de-beaking" process is very painful for the chicken because their beaks are filled with nerve endings.

Domestic chickens are not capable of flying for long distances, although they are generally capable of flying for short distances such as over fences. Chickens will sometimes fly simply in order to explore their surroundings, but will especially fly in an attempt to flee when they perceive danger. Because of the risk of flight, chickens raised in the open 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.
Chicken eggs vary in color depending on the hen, typically ranging from bright white to shades of brown and even blue or green (Auracana varieties).
Enlarge
Chicken eggs vary in color depending on the hen, typically ranging from bright white to shades of brown and even blue or green (Auracana varieties).

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 behaviour 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 may crow at anytime of the day. Their crowing - a loud and sometimes shrill call - is a territorial signal to other roosters.

Chickens are domesticated descendents of the red junglefowl, which is biologically classified as the same species.

Chickens as pets
In Asia, chickens with striking plumage have long been kept for ornamental purposes, including feather-footed varieties such as the Cochin and Silkie from China and the extremely long-tailed (Phoenix) from Japan. Asian ornamental varieties were imported into the United States and Great Britain in the late 1800s. Poultry fanciers then began keeping these ornamental birds for exhibition, a practice that continues today. From these Asian breeds, distinctive American varieties of chickens have been developed.

Today, some cities in the United States still allow residents to keep live chickens as pets, although the practice is quickly disappearing. Individuals in rural communities commonly keep chickens for both ornamental and practical value. Some communities ban only roosters, allowing the quieter hens. Many zoos use chickens instead of insecticides to control insect populations.

Growing chickens can easily be tamed by feeding them a special treat such as mealworms in the palm of one's hand, and by being with them for at least ten minutes daily when they are young.

  Going broody Posted By Admin
08/02/06


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 if disturbed or removed, and will rarely leave the nest to eat, drink, or dust bathe. While broody, the hen keeps the eggs at a 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 hear the chicks peeping inside the eggs, and will gently cluck to encourage them to break out of their shells. If the eggs are not fertilized and do not hatch, the hen will eventually grow tired of being broody 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 mothers.