The chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) is a type of domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the red junglefowl. It is one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, with a population of more than 19 billion as of 2011.[1] Humans keep chickens primarily as a source of food, consuming both their meat and their eggs.

In part due to the conditions on intensive poultry farms and recent recalls of large quantities of eggs, there is a growing movement for small-scale micro-flocks or 'backyard chickens'. This involves keeping small numbers of hens (usually no more than a dozen) in suburban or urban residential areas to control bugs, to utilize chicken waste as fertilizer in small gardens, and of course for the high-quality eggs and meat that are produced.

An early domestication of chickens in Southeast Asia is probable, since the word for domestic chicken (*manuk) is part of the reconstructed Proto-Austronesian language (see Austronesian languages). Chickens, together with dogs and pigs, were the domestic animals of the Lapita culture,[66] the first Neolithic culture of Oceania.[67]

Grilled chicken gets a lift with this flavor-packed marinade and fresh, fruity salsa.

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Chickens may live for five to ten years, depending on the breed.[15] The world's oldest chicken, a hen, died of heart failure at the age of 16 according to Guinness World Records.[16]

More than 50 billion chickens are reared annually as a source of food, for both their meat and their eggs.[38][better source needed]

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... ."[23]

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A lack of data from Thailand, Russia, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa makes it difficult to lay out a clear map of the spread of chickens in these areas; better description and genetic analysis of local breeds threatened by extinction may also help with research into this area.[33]

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Chickens farmed for meat are called broiler chickens. Chickens will naturally live for six or more years, but broiler chickens typically take less than six weeks to reach slaughter size.[40] A free range or organic meat chicken will usually be slaughtered at about 14 weeks of age.

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This grilled chicken deserves a spot in your weekly dinner rotation this spring.

The Romans used chickens for oracles, both when flying ("ex avibus", Augury) and when feeding ("auspicium ex tripudiis", Alectryomancy). The hen ("gallina") gave a favourable omen ("auspicium ratum"), when appearing from the left (Cic.,de Div. ii.26), like the crow and the owl.

The Greeks believed that even lions were afraid of roosters. Several of Aesop's Fables reference this belief.

In the New Testament, Jesus prophesied the betrayal by Peter: "Jesus answered, 'I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.'"[57] It happened,[58] and Peter cried bitterly. This made the rooster a symbol for both vigilance and betrayal.

In the Deep South of the United States chickens are also referred to by the slang term yardbird.[12]

For the use of poultry and eggs in the kitchens of ancient Rome see Roman eating and drinking.

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Chickens are susceptible to several parasites, including lice, mites, ticks, fleas, and intestinal worms, as well as other diseases. Despite the name, they are not affected by chickenpox, which is generally restricted to humans.[53]

Chickens were spread by Polynesian seafarers and reached Easter Island in the 12th century AD, where they were the only domestic animal, with the possible exception of the Polynesian rat (Rattus exulans). They were housed in extremely solid chicken coops built from stone, which was first reported as such to Linton Palmer in 1868, who also "expressed his doubts about this".[79]

Many commercial incubators are industrial-sized with shelves holding tens of thousands of eggs at a time, with rotation of the eggs a fully automated process. Home incubators are boxes holding from 6 to 75 eggs; they are usually electrically powered, but in the past some were heated with an oil or paraffin lamp.

A cockatrice was supposed to have been born from an egg laid by a rooster, as well as killed by a rooster's call.

In ancient Greece, the chicken was not normally used for sacrifices, perhaps because it was still considered an exotic animal. Because of its valor, the cock is found as an attribute of Ares, Heracles, and Athena. The alleged last words of Socrates as he died from hemlock poisoning, as recounted by Plato, were "Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius; will you remember to pay the debt?", signifying that death was a cure for the illness of life.

Chickens are omnivores.[13] In the wild, they often scratch at the soil to search for seeds, insects and even animals as large as lizards, small snakes or young mice.[14]

As each weekend comes to an end, gather your brood around the table for a relaxed, gear-up-for-Monday meal. While certainly company-worthy, this roast chicken won't ruffle your feathers. (It's your weekend too!)

In ancient Greece, chickens were still rare and were a rather prestigious food for symposia.[citation needed] Delos seems to have been a center of chicken breeding (Columella, De Re Rustica 8.3.4).

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Some people find chickens' behaviour entertaining and educational[51] and they are sometimes kept as pets. Chickens can be tamed by hand feeding, although roosters can sometimes become aggressive and noisy. Aggression may be curbed with proper handling. Some have advised against keeping them around very young children[citation needed]. Certain breeds, such as silkies and many bantam varieties, are generally docile and are often recommended as good pets around children with disabilities.[52]

To initiate courting, some roosters may dance in a circle around or near a hen ("a circle dance"), often lowering his wing which is closest to the hen.[18] The dance triggers a response in the hen[18] and when she responds to his "call", the rooster may mount the hen and proceed with the mating.

In the sixth century, Pope Gregory I declared the rooster the emblem of Christianity[60] and another Papal enactment of the ninth century by Pope Nicholas I[55] ordered the figure of the rooster to be placed on every church steeple.[61]

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Fresh strawberries add a sweet and juicy element to this spring salad.

Vitamin-packed Broccolini is an ingenious hybrid between broccoli and Chinese broccoli.

The vast majority of poultry are 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.[39] One alternative to intensive poultry farming is free range farming.