Chickens For Kids

Posted by Andrew Davidson on

Introduction

There are more chickens in the world than any other kind of bird. They
are the staple of many farms, kept by farmers and country families
alike. They are known as the “bird that gives birth every day” and have
been around since ancient times.
Chickens were domesticated since long before we can remember. They
are very important in many parts of the world for food and feathers,
which help to keep us warm and comfy.
As a cheap way to have fresh eggs, chickens have grown more and
more popular as pets. They also are not as vicious as geese, a similar
animal that lays eggs and that humans use for food.
The chicken’s popularity will only grow in places like America and
Canada as the allure of fresh eggs and having a unique pet catch
people’s fancy. The chicken is already popular in other parts of the
world.
The chicken comes in an astonishing amount of varieties, from bantams
to naked necks to Cornish chickens. It has been a long time staple for
the peoples of the world, and it will continue to be so long into the
future.

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What are chickens?

Chickens are a type of bird. Specifically, it’s a subspecies (meaning a
part of the species) of the red junglefowl. Over time, there has been so
much breeding that there are many different kinds of chickens.
A chicken is a specific member of the Gallus genus; its name is Gallus
Gallus Domesticus. No one knows for sure where chickens came from,
but it was probably somewhere in Eurasia (Europe and Asia).
Adult male chickens are called either cocks or roosters; females are
called hens, and babies are called chicks. A young female that is not a
chick is called a pullet. A male chicken that has been made to not be
able to have babies is called a capon.

Turkeys are not chickens, but sometimes they’re mistaken for being the
same. There are also several kinds of birds that use the ‘hen, cock, and
chick’ designation, such as peafowls, but they are also not chickens.

A chicken can usually be identified by its plump, flightless body and its
appetite.

What do chickens look like?

Chickens are birds, so they are covered with feathers, like most birds.
Some have less feathers, like turkeys, but they are still chickens. All
chickens have beaks, wings, two legs, and two eyes.
A birchen pekin chicken.
Most chickens have a wattle, which is a piece of flesh that hangs
beneath the beak. It’s usually a reddish pink to red color. A lot of types
of chickens also have combs; these are on top of the heads, and also a
reddish pink to red color.
Chickens have squat bodies. They can’t fly, because their wings are too
small and their bodies too heavy; this is especially true of commercially
bred chickens that are raised for their meat, because they’ve been bred
to have more meat on their bones than a typical chicken.
Not all chickens look alike; some have curled feathers, and some have
straight feathers. Others have puffy feathers and some have less
feathers, like the naked neck chicken. Some are big and some are small.
They also have much smaller beaks than say, a duck or a goose.
Roosters (or cocks) have more plumage (feathers, especially big ones),
and are generally more colorful than hens. They also sometimes have
this patch of color on their backs that can look like a saddle.

How do chickens act?

Chickens are very social animals. They live together in flocks, and tend
to be very lonely if forced to live on their own. In fact, it is a cruelty to
chickens to make them live without another chicken to interact with.
They are very big on social order, or ‘pecking order.’ This is actually
where we get that term. If you add a new chicken or take one away
from a flock, there will a lot of fighting among the chickens to establish
who is above who.

A rooster looks out for his flock. When the rooster finds food, he will
often call out to the hens to let them know there’s food. A rooster will
use its loud call to protect its territory, as well as in surprise. A hen
makes noises when it lays an egg, and ‘talks’ to her chicks.
When mating, a rooster will sometimes dance around a hen with his
closer wing held low. This is to call to her and invite her to have babies
with him. If she responds (which is most of the time), they have babies.

Hens are different from some other birds in that, in a flock, there are
less likely to be one nest for each hen. This is because the hens will lay
eggs in each others’ nests, and also sit on each other’s eggs. It’s a bit of
a communal affair to keep the eggs warm and ready to hatch.
When a hen stops laying eggs and instead focuses on sitting on its
current eggs, this is called ‘brooding.’ It will rarely get up to feed or
dust-bathe, and it sits constantly. Most chickens will leave their nests
every so often, but not a hen who is brooding.
Chicks are born all within one or two days of each other, even though
hens tend to lay eggs at all different times. This is because incubation,
or keeping the eggs at a certain temperature, takes place only when the
hen is ready for the babies to start developing.
A chick will live off of the yolk in the egg until it hatches. When it is
time for it to hatch, it will make a hole in the shell, and over the course
of a few hours, will make the hole bigger all around the shell, until the
blunt end of the egg is like a lid. Then it climbs out, and stays under the
mother. It lives off of the rest of the yolk for a short time while all the
eggs hatch.
Chickens live for around five or ten years, though there have been
chickens who have lived longer.

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