Who doesn’t love chicken? We are using chicken in our daily lives like crazy. For example, chicken dinner, chicken salad, fried chicken, creamy sauce chicken, spicy chicken, baked chicken, chicken in pasta chicken soup, chicken stuffed with cheese, and whatnot. In sandwiches, with bread, with veggies, with onions there are several chicken dishes that soothe our taste buds.
But one thing that we ignore while consuming chicken is that we forget that it is a bird. Though flightless, it’s still a bird. For centuries, chicken has been the most important bird for the poultry industry for meat production.
Origin of Chicken
Chicken (Gallus gallus), contains at least sixty types of species that serves poultry ranges from medium-size to large-size. All of these chicken species are believed to be the descendants of the wild red jungle fowl, belonging to the family Phasianidae, and order Phasianidae that originally resides in India. The chicken is the most extensively used fowl globally for meat and egg production.
Though the chicken is closely related with the red jungle fowl, ornithologists confirm that there are several other species that are responsible for chicken ancestry. Some of these species include gray jungle fowl (G. sonneratii), which is found in southern parts of India. In addition to this, there are several other species that also fall under the genus Gallus, which also played their part in delivering us the various chicken varieties.
Chicken Scientific Name
There is a conflict among taxonomists and ornithologists about the scientific name of the chicken. Taxonomists believe that chicken we eat today is the domesticated version of the red jungle fowl, some of them also consider it as a sub-species of the former. Thereby, they name it as G. gallus domesticus. However, in some parts of the world which also include the US. Agriculture department declares this fowl as G. domesticus.
Chicken’s natural history
Chickens are short, and have thick chubby appearance. They are hardly twenty-eight inches in length, and their weight ranges between two to three kilograms. Male chicken are addressed by the name “Cock or rooster,” whereas the female chicken is called “Hen.”
Male chicken is known for their highly curved tail that distinguishes it from the hen. In some male chicken, the tail length can exceed upto twelve inches in length. Both females and females have lobed wattles that hangs beneath their pointy beaks. Like turkeys, and pheasants, chickens also have a fleshy crest, or head growth that is fleshy in the case of male, and less fleshy for the female.
Breeding season for chicken begins as the seasons of spring and summer approaches. The production of eggs is basically stimulated by the warm sunshine rays that indicate its that time of the year. However, poultry firms also use artificial lighting to stimulate the egg-laying process in chicken, and that can be done at any time in the year.
The interval between hen’s ovulation and laying the egg is twenty-three to twenty-six hours. Some hens are extremely fertile and they can ovulate just after one hour of the delivery of the first egg. This phenomenon makes this species produce a minimum three hundred eggs per year.
Fertilization and egg-laying
After fertilization the chicken embryo develops rapidly, and it takes almost twenty-one days for the chicken to crack up the egg shell. Though juvenile chickens are born with down feathers, they have a very high maturity rate, and thereby grow quickly. After four to five weeks, the chicken develop adult feathers.
After six months, both genders reach their sexual maturity and so males can produce active sperms, and hens can lay fertilized eggs. Chickens who live with free flocks can survive for up to six to eight years, if they have optimal conditions. However, chicken used in industry is used as egg layers for two to three years for egg production after which they are used for meat. In captivation, chicken can live longer for up to thirty years.
Social hierarchy In Chicken
In every chicken flock, we see social hierarchy just like the other animals. This social hierarchy aids flock members to have easy access to food, nesting sites, water, and several other resources. Every flock has a head male chicken and his subordinates which are also males. The head male also has two or three female subordinates.
Chicken’s social hierarchy has divisions based on gender and pecking order. During this order, the males on high rank peck the males on lower ranks with their beaks so that they can assure the availability of food and nesting sites. In addition to pecking, there is also scratching by claws, and pummeling (Repeatedly flapping their wings).
Pecking order is mainly observed in female chicken flocks. In males, the fight of dominance continues till their death. The aggression picks up the heat when a new member enters the flock. Sometimes the combats are very dangerous and can be fatal.
Economic production and domestication
Domestication of chicken began in the 7th century, in South east Asia, and particularly in India. Why have they been domesticated? Most probably for the religious rituals and for exhibiting the fighting birds.
In the last two centuries, various chicken species that have resulted through chicken domestication are widely used all over the word. For many years, chickens have been an essential component in livestock, farms, ranches spreading through Asia and Europe. In the twentieth century chickens saw a massive turn, and since then they have been massively used for food (meat and eggs.)
Chicken In Recipes
Chicken has been widely used for its devouring, and delicious taste. All over the world, chickens are an essential component of everyday protein consumption. As it is a pretty easy to cook recipe, it’s been an essential in people’s diet, and their comfort food. Either it is tender chicken, chicken breasts, chicken in mashed potatoes, crispy chicken or fried chicken, chicken breast, chicken in soup, we all love its spicy, fresh tenderness that delivers flavor and soothes our taste buds.`
Following are the dishes in which chicken is extensively used:
- Stuffed chicken: Baked chicken, filled with spicy sauce, lemon juice cream and veggies.
- Pasta: Chicken is massively used in various pasta species.
- With rice: There are several chicken recipes like Oyster chicken, Chicken Manchurian which people eat with rice.
- Fried chicken: Chicken marinated with garlic, and other spices, fried with cornflour layering,and served with mouth-watering sauces all over the world. KFC has been the industry leader in this regard. People now also fry chicken in an air fryer.
- Chicken with gravy: Chicken sauteed with gravy with mashed potatoes and onions is also a tasty experience. This is the most loved dish for home cooks usually served with white wine.
- Chicken broast: Fried chicken with flour and crunchy layering on the top, marinated with garlic, lemon juice, and sauce.
- Chicken caesar salad: People use chicken numerously in salads, as they mix boiled chicken with fresh vegetables like onions, and other meat sources like bacon. Chicken salad serves as a delicious wholesome meal and dish.
- Grilled chicken: Grilled chicken is also one of the top favorite dishes, in which mostly chicken thighs and chicken breasts are grilled. Chicken breast is also used extensively in burgers and sandwiches.