The chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) is a type of domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the red junglefowl. Humans keep chickens as a source of food, consuming both their meat and their eggs.
Genetic studies in South Asia, with the clade found in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa originating in the Indian subcontinent. From India, the domesticated chicken was imported to Lydia in western Asia Minor, and to Greece by the fifth century BC.
Fowl had been known in Egypt since the mid-15th century BC, with the "bird that gives birth every day" from Syria and Shinar, Babylonia, according to the annals of Thutmose III.
In the UK and Ireland adult male chickens over the age of one year are known as roosters. Males less than a year old are cockerels.
Castrated roosters are called capons (surgical and chemical castration are now illegal in some parts of the world). Females as well as younger females as pullets although in the egg-laying industry, a pullet becomes a hen when it begins to lay eggs at 16 to 20 weeks of age. In Australia and New Zealand (also sometimes in Britain), there is a generic term chook / tʃʊk / to describe all ages and both sexes.
The young are called chicken and the meat is called chicken.
"Chicken" originally referred to young domestic fowl. The species as a whole was then called domestic fowl, or just fowl. This use of "chicken" survives in the phrase "Hen and Chickens", sometimes used as a British house or theater name, and to name groups of one or more small rocks or islands in the sea Islands).
The word "chicken" is sometimes erroneously construed to mean females exclusively, despite the term "hen" for females being in wide circulation.
In the Deep South of the United States chickens are also referred to by the slang term yardbird.
In 2006, scientists researching the ancestry of birds "turned on" a chicken recessive gene, talpid2, and found that the embryo jaws initiated formation of teeth, like those found in ancient bird fossils. John Fallon, the overseer of the project, stated that chickens have "... retained the ability to make teeth, under certain conditions ....
More than 50 billion chickens are reared annually as a source of food, for both their meat and their eggs.
The vast majority of poultry have raised in factory farms. According to the Worldwatch Institute, 74 percent of the world's poultry meat and 68 percent of eggs are produced this way. One alternative to intensive poultry farming is free range farming.
Friction between these two methods has led to long-term issues of ethical consumerism. Opponents of intensive farming argue that it harms the environment, creates human health risks and is inhumane. Advocates of intensive farming say that their highly efficient systems save land and food resources and increase the productivity, and that the animals are looked after in state-of-the-art environmentally controlled facilities.
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