The Where To Buy Live Chickens Locally (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 total population of more than 19 billion as of 2011. There are more chickens in the world than any other bird or domesticated fowl. Humans keep chickens primarily as a source of food (consuming both their meat and eggs) and, less commonly, as pets. Originally raised for cockfighting or for special ceremonies, chickens were not kept for food until the Hellenistic period (4th–2nd centuries BC).
Genetic studies have pointed to multiple maternal origins in Southeast Asia, East Asia, and South Asia, but with the clade found in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa originating in the Indian subcontinent. From ancient India, the domesticated chicken spread to Lydia in western Asia Minor, and to Greece by the 5th century BC. Fowl had been known in Egypt since the mid-15th century BC, with the "bird that gives birth every day" having come to Egypt from the land between 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 primarily known as cocks, whereas in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, they are more commonly called 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 over a year old are known as hens, and younger females as pullets, although in the egg-laying industry, a pullet becomes a hen when she 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 /t??k/ to describe all ages and both sexes. The young are often called chicks.
"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 public house or theatre name, and to name groups of one large and many small rocks or islands in the sea (see for example Hen and Chicken Islands). The word "chicken" is sometimes erroneously construed to mean females exclusively, despite the term "hen" for females being in wide circulation, and the term “rooster” for males being that most commonly used.
In the Deep South of the United States, chickens are also referred to by the slang term yardbird.
Chickens are omnivores. 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.
The average chicken may live for five to ten years, depending on the breed. The world's oldest known chicken was a hen which died of heart failure at the age of 16 years according to the Guinness World Records.
Roosters can usually be differentiated from hens by their striking plumage of long flowing tails and shiny, pointed feathers on their necks (hackles) and backs (saddle), which are typically of brighter, bolder colours than those of females of the same breed. However, in some breeds, such as the Sebright chicken, the rooster has only slightly pointed neck feathers, the same colour as the hen's. The identification can be made by looking at the comb, or eventually from the development of spurs on the male's legs (in a few breeds and in certain hybrids, the male and female chicks may be differentiated by colour). Adult chickens have a fleshy crest on their heads called a comb, or cockscomb, and hanging flaps of skin either side under their beaks called wattles. Collectively, these and other fleshy protuberances on the head and throat are called caruncles. Both the adult male and female have wattles and combs, but in most breeds these are more prominent in males. A muff or beard is a mutation found in several chicken breeds which causes extra feathering under the chicken's face, giving the appearance of a beard. 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 may occasionally fly briefly to explore their surroundings, but generally do so only to flee perceived danger.
How to Choose the Best Chicken
When shopping for a whole chicken, look for a well-shaped bird with a plump, rounded breast, and more breast than leg. You can tell the approximate age of a bird by pressing against the breastbone. If it is pliable, the chicken is young and will have tender meat. Chicken parts should be moist and plump. Both whole chickens and chicken parts should have a clean smell.
One way to get a really fresh chicken is to check the “sell by” date on the store’s label. Chicken can reach the supermarket as early as the next morning after slaughter. The sell-by date is seven to 10 days from slaughter and it’s the last day recommended for sale. However, the bird will remain fresh for up to three days afterward if properly refrigerated.
The color of the skin has no bearing on quality or nutritional value. The poultry industry turns out white and yellow chickens to suit consumer preferences, which vary from region to region. The color of the skin depends on the breed and what the chicken was fed. If the chicken was fed substances containing yellow pigment, such as marigold petals, its skin will be yellow. No matter what the color of the skin is, make sure it does not appear transparent or mottled.
Frozen chicken should be rock-hard and show no signs of freezer burn or ice crystals inside the package. Choose packages from below the freezer line in the grocer’s case. If there is frozen liquid inside the package, the chicken has likely been defrosted and then refrozen. This does not mean that the chicken is spoiled, but the taste will suffer since the juices that make a bird flavorful have seeped out.