The chicken (Gallus Gallus) is a type of domestic fowl, believed to be descended from the wild Indian and South-East Asian Red Jungle fowl.
The chicken is one of the most common and wide-spread domestic animals. With a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world than any other bird. Humans keep chickens primarily as a source of food, from both their meat and their eggs.
Domestic chickens are not capable of long distance flight, although lighter birds are generally capable of flying for short distances such as over fences or into trees (where they would naturally roost). Chickens will sometimes fly to explore their surroundings, but usually do so only to flee perceived danger. Because of the risk of escape, chickens raised in open-air pens often have 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 metres, and it is thus discouraged from flying at all.
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.
Hens can be extremely stubborn about always laying in the same location. It is not unknown for two 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.
Because of its relatively low cost, chicken is one of the most used meats in the world. Nearly all parts of the bird can be used for food.
Chickens can make good companion animals and can be tamed by hand feeding. Chickens are generally low maintenance. The major challenge is protecting the birds from predators such as dogs and foxes.