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Overview

Brief Summary

Description

Red junglefowl are the wild ancestors of all domestic poultry (3), although the rooster is said to be more brilliantly colored than its tame relative (4). The vibrant male has long, golden-orange to deep-red crown and neck feathers, and a dark metallic-green tail with a white tuft at the base. The underparts are a dull black while the upperparts are a combination of glossy blue-green, rich dark red, maroon-red, fiery orange, rufous and blackish brown (3). The colourful cock also has vivid scarlet-red facial skin, throat, two lappets and heavily dented fleshy crest (comb), and red or white ear patches on the sides of the head (3) (4) (5). The rather drab female is a dull brown-gold colour (6) with a partly naked, pale red face and throat (3). After the summer moult, from June to September, the male develops an 'eclipse plumage', in which the golden neck feathers (hackles) are replaced with dull black feathers, the long tail feathers are lost, and the comb reduces in size and becomes duller in colour (3) (4). With much hybridisation between pure and domestic stock, the standard criteria of pure wild junglefowl include the tail being carried horizontally in both sexes, the absence of a comb in the female, and dark or slate grey leg colour and an annual eclipse moult in the male (3) (7). There are five subspecies, which vary in the colour of the facial lappets, in the size of the combs, and in the length, colour and terminal end shape of the neck hackles of males during the breeding season (2) (8).
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Biology

The red junglefowl lives in small mixed flocks during the non-breeding season - summer, autumn and winter (3). These have a hierarchical social system in which there is a 'pecking order' for both males and females (4). In the spring, at the onset of the breeding season, each of the stronger cocks maintains a territory with three to five hens (3). Meanwhile, young cocks live isolated in twos and threes. Studies have shown that the offspring of top roosters are more likely to grow up to be leaders than are those of low-ranking males, and that hierarchy may have a genetic component. Experiments have shown that females have the ability to retain or eject sperm, and that they consistently retain the sperm of the one or two dominant roosters in the group and eject that of all others (9). Hens produce four to seven, typically four to six, eggs per clutch, which are incubated for 18 to 20 days by the female only (2) (4). At twelve weeks of age, the young are chased out of the social group by their mother, and go off to join another group or form their own (4). Red junglefowl forage on the ground for seeds, fruit and insects, using their feet to scratch away the leaf-litter in search of food (5).
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Distribution

Gallus gallus is native to Southern Asia, particularly the jungles of India. Gallus gallus spread all over the world when people domesticated the chicken. This account primarily discusses the wild species (Philips 1999, Stevens 1991, Peterson and Brisbin 1999)

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )

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Global Range: RESIDENT: southeastern Asia. INTRODUCED: established in wild state in Hawaii (Kauai, Oahu, and perhaps elsewhere), Puerto Rico (Isla Mona, and possibly Isla Culebra and among magotes of Puerto Rico proper), and elsewhere in the world.

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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Unknown

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Range

Native to Southern and Southeast Asia (6), from India eastward and south through Indonesia, but the domestic form is found worldwide and hybridisation is widespread (8). Five subspecies are usually recognised: the Indian red junglefowl (G. g. murghi) occurs in north and northeast India, adjacent Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh; the Burmese red junglefowl (G. g. spadiceus) in southwest Yunnan (China) and adjacent east Arunachal Pradesh (India), Myanmar, Thailand (except East), Peninsular Malaysia and north Sumatra; the Tonkinese red junglefowl (G. g. jabouillei) in southeast Yunnan and Hainan (China) and north Vietnam; the Cochin-Chinese red junglefowl (G. g. gallus) in east Thailand through central and south Laos, and Cambodia to central and south Vietnam; and the Javan red junglefowl (G. g. bankiva) in south Sumatra, Java and Bali (2) (8) (11).
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Unknown

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Physical Description

Morphology

Gallus gallus' plumage is gold, red, brown, dark maroon, orange, with a bit of metallic green and gray. There are also some white and olive feathers. Two white patches, shaped like an ear, appear on either side of the head. Gallus gallus can be distinguish from other chickens not only by these white patches, but also by the grayish feet. The red junglefowl can measure up to 70 centimeters in length. They have a total of fourteen tail feathers. Gallus gallus rooster tails can be almost 28 centimeter in length.

 The red junglefowl rooster is said to be more brilliantly colored that its tame relative. During June to October, G. gallus moults into an eclipse plumage. An eclipse plumage is, for male, black long feather across the middle of his back and slender red-orange plumes on the rest of his body. For a female, an eclipse plumage cannot be distiguished, but she does moult. The female red junglefowl is leaner than tame hens. (North and Bell 1990, Ponnampalam 2000, Stevens 1991, Peterson and Brisbin 1999)

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Average mass: 2580.2 g.

Average basal metabolic rate: 6.005 W.

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Size

Length: 71 cm

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Diagnostic Description

Ancestor of domestic chicken, from which wild birds may be difficult to distinguish.

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Ecology

Habitat

Gallus gallus lives in thick secondary forest or lush belukar. In the morning or evening, the bird can be found in an open area by wide earthen tracts or clearing, where the red junglefowl finds food. Sometimes G. gallus can be seen in oil-palm estates. (Ponnampalam 2000)

Terrestrial Biomes: forest

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Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Comments: Forest undergrowth, second growth, scrub, cultivated land. In Hawaii: along roads, trails, and other open spaces when feeding; often rests or feeds casually in thickets at other times of day; roosts in tree (female with young on ground). Nests on ground or in trees (2-6+ m above ground) (Berger 1981).

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The red junglefowl occupies most tropical and subtropical habitats throughout its extensive range, including mangroves, scrubland and plantations, although it seems to prefer flat or gently sloping terrain, forest edges and secondary forest (2) (4). It is also found in the foothills of the Himalayas. Found from sea level up to around 2,500 metres (2).
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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Trophic Strategy

Gallus gallus is an herbivore and insectivore. Red junglefowls eat corn, soybean, worms, grass, and different kinds of grains found on the ground. They cannot detect sweet tastes. They can detect salt, but most red junglefowl do not like it. (Damerow 1995, Limburg 1975, Ponnampalam 2000)

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Associations

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Animal / parasite / ectoparasite / blood sucker
adult of Cimex lectularius sucks the blood of Gallus gallus

Animal / parasite / endoparasite
fluke of Echinostoma revolutum endoparasitises small intestine of Gallus gallus

Animal / parasite / endoparasite
cyst of Toxocara cati endoparasitises body cavity of Gallus gallus

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General Ecology

Roosts singly, in pairs, or in family groups.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Cyclicity

Comments: Feeding activity most intense in early morning and late afternoon (Berger 1981).

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Life Expectancy

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
30.0 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 30 years (captivity) Observations: Chickens are considered a relatively short-lived and fast ageing species (Holmes et al. 2003). The maximum longevity in captivity of these birds, however, has been reported to be 30 years (http://www.demogr.mpg.de/longevityrecords). This is not impossible considering the large number of animals kept in captivity, yet remains unproven. For comparative analyses the use of a more conservative value for maximum longevity, such as 15 or 20 years, is recommended. Domestic chicken reach sexual maturity before six months of age.
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Reproduction

The breeding season of the red junglfowl is spring and summer. The chicks will start their lives in the warmth of the summer sun. An egg is laid each day. For twenty-one days before hatching, the chick will develop inside of the egg. On the first day, the heart and blood vessels of the chick develop and start to work. At the end of the first day, the head starts to take shape. By the fourth day, all organs of the future chick are present. On the fifth day, external sex structure developed. By the thirteenth day, the skeleton begins to calcify using the calcium from the eggshell. From the time when the egg is laid until hatching, the chick feeds on the yolk that surrounds him. The yolk penetrate in the chick body by the umbilicus. On the twenty-first day, the chick, now fully developed, starts to break through his thin shell. This action can take anywhere from ten to twenty hours. (North and Bell 1990)

 By four to five weeks of age, the chicks are normally fully feathered. Their first adult wings' feather will take another four weeks to grow. When the chicks are twelve weeks old, the mother chases them out of the group. They will then go on to form their own group or join another. At five months old, the chicks reach sexual maturity. The females reach sexual maturity a little later than the males. (Limburg 1975)

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous

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In Hawaii, breeds early February-late September; clutch size 4-9; incubation 3 weeks, by female; male helps tend chicks; female sexually mature in 4-5 months (Berger 1981).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Gallus gallus domesticus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Gallus domesticus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Barcode data: Gallus gallus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 84 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

ATCCGCGCAGAACTAGGACAGCCCGGAACTCTCTTAGGAGAC---GACCAAATTTACAATGTAATCGTCACAGCCCATGCTTTCGTCATAATCTTCTTTATAGTTATACCCATCATGATCGGTGGCTTCGGAAACTGACTAGTCCCGCTTATA---ATCGGTGCCCCAGACATAGCATTCCCCCGCATAAATAACATAAGCTTCTGACTCCTCCCTCCCTCCTTCCTTCTCCTACTAGCCTCATCTACCGTAGAAGCTGGGGCCGGCACAGGATGGACAGTTTACCCCCCTTTAGCCGGCAACCTAGCCCACGCTGGCGCATCAGTAGACCTA---GCCATCTTTTCATTACACTTAGCAGGTGTTTCCTCCATTCTAGGAGCCATCAACTTTATCACTACCATCATCAACATAAAACCCCCCGCACTGTCACAATACCAAACACCCCTATTCGTATGATCCGTCCTCATTACTGCCATCCTACTACTCCTCTCCTTACCCGTCCTAGCAGCT---GGGATTACCATACTACTTACCGACCGCAACCTTAACACCACATTCTTCGACCCAGCTGGAGGAGGAGACCCAATCCTATACCAACACCTATTCTGATTCTTCGGTCACCCCGAAGTTTACATCCTCATCCTCCCAGGATTTGGAATTATC---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------TTCCCA------------------------------------------------------------------CAT------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------AAA
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Gallus gallus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 119
Specimens with Barcodes: 164
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Red junglefowl have been mostly genetically interbred with domestic and feral chickens, as a survey of 745 museum specimens has shown. A sign of pure wild genotypes for G. gallus is, for males, an eclipse plumage. This eclipse plumage has been seen only in populations in the western and central of the species' geographic range. It is believed that G. gallus has disappeared from extreme south-eastern Asia and the Phillippines. This suggestion is supported by an intense scientific collection made in 1860. In the 1960's, studies in north-eastern India revealed a population of red junglefowl exhibiting the eclipse plumage. The purity of the species is in danger because of the region's dense human population, whose domestic chickens could continue to contaminate G. gallus genetically. (Peterson and Brisbin 1999)

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: TNA - Not Applicable

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).
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Population

Population
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is reported to be widespread and common to locally common (del Hoyo et al. 1994).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

The red junglefowl is generally considered common and widespread despite habitat loss and poaching within its range (5) (8). The bird is affected relatively little by habitat loss because it can occupy a variety of habitats, including secondary vegetation and man-made habitats, such as rubber and oil-palm plantations and planted fields on forest edges (2) (10). However, it has recently come to light that genetic contamination through interbreeding with domestic and feral chickens poses the real threat, pushing pure wild junglefowl to the verge of extinction (4) (8). Eclipse plumage, one of the indicators of pure stock, is now only seen in populations in the western and central regions of the species' geographic range, and it is therefore feared that the pure form of this colourful bird has disappeared completely from extreme south-east Asia. Due to the high density of the human population, whose domestic chickens could continue to contaminate the red junglefowl genetically, the purity of the species, where it remains, is in constant danger (4) (7) (10).
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Management

Conservation

With as much hybridisation in captivity as in the wild, both between pure and domestic stock and between the five subspecies, a studbook has now been developed and many breeders are having their birds' DNA tested for purity (8). The World Pheasant Association is also undertaking extensive DNA research, but sadly virtually all the birds in captivity in Europe have been found to display hybridised genes (10). It seems that its domestic descendents will be the undoing of this unique wild bird, which has been quietly slipping into genetic extinction, before the world was even aware of, and could appropriately respond to, the situation (7). In the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, where local people appear never to have allowed free roaming domestic poultry, due to high numbers of predators such as leopards (panthera pardus) and leopard cats (felis bengalensis), junglefowl that retain traditional morphology continue to exist and are currently the subject of considerable research (10).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Gallus gallus is such an easy animal to take care of and can find food for himself that it does not have a negative impact on economy or humans. (Limburg 1975, Phillips 1999)

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These birds are used mainly for eggs and meat production. The red junglefowl is sometimes used for cock fighting or chicken competitions. Gallus gallus feathers were used for pillows and mattress. (Limburg 1975, Peterson and Brisbin 1999)

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Wikipedia

Red junglefowl

"Gallus gallus" redirects here. For other subspecies, see Chicken.

The red junglefowl (Gallus gallus) is a tropical member of the Phasianidae family. It is thought to be ancestral to the domestic chicken, with some hybridization with the grey junglefowl.[2] The red junglefowl was first domesticated at least five thousand years ago in Asia, then taken around the world, and the domestic form is kept globally as a very productive food source of both meat and eggs.[3]

Range[edit]

The range of the wild form stretches from Tamil Nadu, South India (where it has almost certainly been diluted with cross breeding from domestic breeds)[citation needed] eastwards across southern China and into Malaysia, the Philippines — where it is locally known as "labuyo" — and Indonesia. Junglefowl are established on several of the Hawaiian Islands, but these are feral descendants of domestic chickens. They can also be found on Christmas Island and the Mariana Islands.

Each of these various regions had its own subspecies of Gallus gallus, including:

Sexual dimorphism[edit]

Male and female birds show very strong sexual dimorphism. Males are much larger; they have large red fleshy wattles and comb on the head and long, bright gold and bronze feathers forming a "shawl" or "cape" over the back of the bird from the neck to the lower back. The tail is composed of long, arching feathers that initially look black but shimmer with blue, purple and green in good light. The female's plumage is typical of this family of birds in being cryptic and having evolved for camouflage as she alone looks after the eggs and chicks. She also has no fleshy wattles or comb on the head.

During their mating season, the male birds announce their presence with the well known "cock-a-doodle-doo" call or crowing. Male red junglefowl have a shorter crowing sound than domestic roosters; the call cuts off abruptly at the end.[4] This serves both to attract potential mates and to make other male birds in the area aware of the risk of fighting a breeding competitor. A spur on the lower leg just behind and above the foot serves in such fighting. Their call structure is complex and they have distinctive alarm calls for aerial and ground predators to which others react appropriately.[5][6]

Behavior[edit]

Female in Thailand

Males make a food-related display called "tidbitting", performed upon finding food in the presence of a female.[7] The display is composed of coaxing, cluck-like calls and eye-catching bobbing and twitching motions of the head and neck. During the performance, the male repeatedly picks up and drops the food item with his beak. The display usually ends when the hen takes the food item either from the ground or directly from the male’s beak and is associated with copulations and more offspring.[8] Males that produce anti-predator alarm calls[9] appear to be preferred by females.[10]

They are omnivorous and feed on insects, seeds and fruits including those that are cultivated such as those of the oil palm.[11]

Flight in these birds is almost purely confined to reaching their roosting areas at sunset in trees or any other high and relatively safe places free from ground predators, and for escape from immediate danger through the day.

Illustration of male and female red junglefowl

Domestication[edit]

In July 2012, Dr Alice Storey et al. announced a study using mitochondrial DNA recovered from ancient bones from Europe, Thailand, the Pacific and Chile, and from Spanish colonial sites in Florida and the Dominican Republic, in directly dated samples originating in Europe at 1000 B.P. and in the Pacific at 3000 B.P. The study showed that chickens were likely domesticated from wild red junglefowl, though some have suggested possible genetic contributions from other junglefowl species. Domestication occurred at least 5,400 years ago from a common ancestor flock in the bird's natural range, then proceeded in waves both east and west. The paper also states that the earliest undisputed domestic chicken remains are bones associated with a date of approximately 5400 BC from the Chishan site, in the Hebei province of China. In the Ganges region of India, red junglefowl were being used by humans as early as 7,000 years ago. No domestic chickens older than 4,000 years have been identified in the Indus Valley, and the antiquity of chickens recovered from excavations at Mohenjodaro is still debated.[3]

Hybridisation[edit]

The other three members of the genus—Sri Lanka junglefowl (Gallus lafayetii), grey junglefowl (Gallus sonneratii), and the green junglefowl (Gallus varius)—do not usually produce fertile hybrids with the red junglefowl, suggesting that it is the sole ancestor of the domestic chicken. However, recent research has revealed the absence of the yellow skin gene in the wild red junglefowl found in domestic birds, which suggests hybridisation with the grey junglefowl during the domestication of the species.[2] A culturally significant hybrid between the red junglefowl and the green junglefowl in Indonesia is known as the bekisar.

Purebred red junglefowl are thought to be facing a serious threat of extinction because of hybridization at the edge of forests where domesticated free ranging chickens are common.[12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Gallus gallus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Eriksson, Jonas; Larson, Greger; Gunnarsson, Ulrika; Bed'hom, Bertrand; Tixier-Boichard, Michele; Strömstedt, Lina; Wright, Dominic; Eriksson J, Larson G, Gunnarsson U, Bed'hom B, Tixier-Boichard M, et al et al. (23 January 2008), Identification of the Yellow Skin Gene Reveals a Hybrid Origin of the Domestic Chicken, PLoS Genetics (PLoS Genet), preprint (2008): e10, doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000010.eor 
  3. ^ a b Investigating the Global Dispersal of Chickens in Prehistory Using Ancient Mitochondrial DNA Signatures, Alice A. Storey et al; PLoS ONE, July 2012, Volume 7, Issue 7, e39171; accessed 6 August 2012
  4. ^ Wild Singapore: Red Junglefowl, updated Oct 09, accessed 01 Jan 2014.
  5. ^ Collias, N. E. (1987), The vocal repertoire of the red junglefowl: A spectrographic classification and the code of communication, The Condor 89 (3): 510–524, JSTOR 1368641 
  6. ^ Evans, C. S.; Macedonia, J. M.; Marler, P. (1993), Effects of apparent size and speed on the response of chickens, Gallus gallus, to computer-generated simulations of aerial predators, Animal Behaviour 46 (1): 1–11, doi:10.1006/anbe.1993.1156 
  7. ^ Animal Behaviour Lab Dr Chris Evans, Galliform.bhs.mq.edu.au, 2006-11-15, retrieved 2009-04-22 
  8. ^ Home, Galliform.bhs.mq.edu.au, retrieved 2009-04-22 
  9. ^ http://galliform.bhs.mq.edu.au/~david
  10. ^ Macquarie University - Centre for the Integrative Study of Animal Behaviour, Galliform.bhs.mq.edu.au, 2008-08-15, retrieved 2009-04-22 
  11. ^ Arshad MI, M Zakaria, AS Sajap, A Ismail (2000), Food and feeding habits of Red Junglefowl, Pakistan J. Bio. Sci. 3 (6): 1024–1026, doi:10.3923/pjbs.2000.1024.1026 
  12. ^ I. Lehr Brisbin, Jr., Concerns for the genetic integrity and conservation status of the red junglefowl, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Drawer E, Aiken, SC 29802 (with permission from SPPA Bulletin, 1997, 2(3):1-2): FeatherSite, retrieved 2007-09-19 
  13. ^ Society for the Preservation of Poultry Antiquities 
  14. ^ Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus) page & links 
  15. ^ Tomas P. Condon, Morphological and Behavioral Characteristics of Genetically Pure Indian Red Junglefowl, Gallus gallus murghi, retrieved 2007-09-19 
  16. ^ Hawkins, W.P. (n.d.). Carolinas/Virginia Pheasant & Waterfowl Society. Red Junglefowl – Pure Strain, Cvpws.com, retrieved 2007-09-19 
  17. ^ Gautier, Z. 2002. "Gallus gallus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed September 19, 2007, Animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu, retrieved 2009-04-22 
  18. ^ Genetic invasion threatens red jungle fowl, Wildlife Trust of India, New Delhi, 9 January 2006, retrieved 2007-09-19 
  19. ^ Red Junglefowl genetically swamped, Tragopan No. 12, p. 10, World Birdwatch 22 (2), 1 June 2000, retrieved 2007-09-19, "According to some scientists, truly wild populations of the Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus are either extinct or in grave danger of extinction due to introgression of genes from domestic or feral chickens" 
  20. ^ Red Junglefowl - Species factsheet: Gallus gallus, BirdLife Species Factsheet (BirdLife International), 2007, retrieved 2007-09-20 
  21. ^ Peterson, A.T. and I.L. Brisbin, Jr. (1999), Genetic endangerment of wild red junglefowl (Gallus gallus), Bird Conservation International 9: 387–394, doi:10.1017/s0959270900002148 
  22. ^ Brisbin, I. L., Jr. (1969), Behavioral differentiation of wildness in two strains of Red Junglefowl (abstract), Amer. Zool. 9: 1072 

Further reading[edit]

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Chicken

"Gallus gallus domesticus" and "Chooks" redirect here. For other subspecies, see Red Junglefowl. For other uses of Chooks, see Chooks (disambiguation).
This article is about the animal. For chicken as human food, see Chicken (food). For other uses, see Chicken (disambiguation).

The chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) is a domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl. As one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, with a population of more than 24 billion in 2003,[1] there are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird. Humans keep chickens primarily as a source of food, consuming both their meat and their eggs.

The traditional poultry farming view of the domestication of the chicken is stated in Encyclopædia Britannica (2007): "Humans first domesticated chickens of Indian origin for the purpose of cockfighting in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Very little formal attention was given to egg or meat production... "[2] Recent genetic studies have pointed to multiple maternal origins in Southeast, East, and South Asia, but 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.[3] 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.[4][5][6]

Terminology[edit]

In the UK and Ireland adult male chickens over the age of 12 months are primarily known as cocks, whereas in America, Australia and Canada they are more commonly called roosters. Males less than a year old are cockerels.[7] 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[8] 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 /ˈʊk/ to describe all ages and both sexes.[9] The young are called chicks and the meat is called chicken.

"Chicken" originally referred to chicks, not the species itself.[citation needed] 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).

In the Deep South of the United States chickens are also referred to by the slang term yardbird.[10]

General biology and habitat[edit]

In some breeds the adult rooster can be distinguished from the hen by his larger comb

Chickens are omnivores.[11] In the wild, they often scratch at the soil to search for seeds, insects and even larger animals such as lizards, small snakes or young mice.[12]

Chickens may live for five to ten years, depending on the breed.[13] The world's oldest chicken, a hen, died of heart failure at the age of 16 according to Guinness World Records.[14]

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.

Behaviour[edit]

Social behaviour[edit]

Chickens are gregarious birds and live together in flocks. 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 food access and nesting locations. Removing hens or roosters from a flock causes a temporary disruption to this social order until a new pecking order is established. Adding hens, especially younger birds, to an existing flock can lead to fighting and injury.[15] When a rooster finds food, he may call other chickens to eat first. He does this by clucking in a high pitch as well as picking up and dropping the food. This behaviour may also be observed in mother hens to call their chicks and encourage them to eat.

Roosters crowing (a loud and sometimes shrill call) is a territorial signal to other roosters. However, crowing may also result from sudden disturbances within their surroundings. Hens cluck loudly after laying an egg, and also to call their chicks. Chickens also give a low "warning call" when they think they see a predator approaching.

Courtship[edit]

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.[16] The dance triggers a response in the hen[16] and when she responds to his "call", the rooster may mount the hen and proceed with the mating.

Nesting and laying behaviour[edit]

Chicken eggs vary in colour depending on the hen, typically ranging from bright white to shades of brown and even blue, green, and recently reported purple (found in South Asia) (Araucana varieties).
Chicks before their first outing

Hens will often try to lay in nests that already contain eggs and have been known to move eggs from neighbouring nests into their own. The result of this behaviour is that a flock will use only a few preferred locations, rather than having a different nest for every bird. Hens will often express a preference to lay in the same location. It is not unknown for two (or more) 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. There is evidence that individual hens prefer to be either solitary or gregarious nesters.[17] Some farmers use fake eggs made from plastic or stone (or golf balls) to encourage hens to lay in a particular location.

Broodiness[edit]

Under natural conditions, most birds lay only until a clutch is complete, and they will then incubate all the eggs. Many domestic hens will also do this–and are then said to "go broody". The broody hen will stop laying and instead will focus on the incubation of the eggs (a full clutch is usually about 12 eggs). She will "sit" or "set" on the nest, protesting or pecking in defense if disturbed or removed, and she will rarely leave the nest to eat, drink, or dust-bathe. While brooding, the hen maintains the nest at a constant temperature and humidity, as well as turning the eggs regularly during the first part of the incubation. To stimulate broodiness, an owner may place many artificial eggs in the nest, or to stop it they may place the hen in an elevated cage with an open wire floor.

Skull of a three-week-old chicken. Here the opisthotic bone appears in the occipital region, as in the adult Chelonian. bo = Basi-occipital, bt = Basi-temporal, eo = Opisthotic, f = Frontal, fm = Foramen magnum, fo = Fontanella, oc = Occipital condyle, op = Opisthotic, p = Parietal, pf = Post-frontal, sc = Sinus canal in supra-occipital, so = Supra-occpital, sq = Squamosal, 8 = Exit of vagus nerve.

Modern egg-laying breeds rarely go broody, and those that do often stop part-way through the incubation. However, some "utility" (general purpose) breeds, such as the Cochin, Cornish and Silkie, do regularly go broody, and they make excellent mothers, not only for chicken eggs but also for those of other species—even those with much smaller or larger eggs and different incubation periods, such as quail, pheasants, turkeys or geese. Chicken eggs can also be hatched under a broody duck, with varied success.

Hatching and early life[edit]

At the end of the incubation period (about 21 days),[16] the eggs, if fertile, will hatch. Development of the egg starts only when incubation begins, so they all hatch within a day or two of each other, despite perhaps being laid over a period of two weeks or so. Before hatching, the hen can hear the chicks peeping inside the eggs, and will gently cluck to stimulate them to break out of their shells. The chick begins by "pipping"; pecking a breathing hole with its egg tooth towards the blunt end of the egg, usually on the upper side. The chick will then rest for some hours, absorbing the remaining egg yolk and withdrawing the blood supply from the membrane beneath the shell (used earlier for breathing through the shell). It then enlarges the hole, gradually turning round as it goes, and eventually severing the blunt end of the shell completely to make a lid. It crawls out of the remaining shell, and its wet down dries out in the warmth of the nest.

The hen will usually stay on the nest for about two days after the first egg hatches, and during this time the newly hatched chicks live off the egg yolk they absorb just before hatching. Any eggs not fertilized by a rooster will not hatch, and the hen eventually loses interest in these and leaves the nest. After hatching, the hen fiercely guards the chicks, and will brood them when necessary to keep them warm, at first often returning to the nest at night. She leads them to food and water; she will call them to edible items, but seldom feeds them directly. She continues to care for them until they are several weeks old, when she will gradually lose interest and eventually start to lay again.

Earliest gestation stages and blood circulation of a chicken embryo

Embryology[edit]

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... ."[18]

Breeding[edit]

Origins[edit]

The domestic chicken is descended primarily from the Red junglefowl (Gallus gallus) and is scientifically classified as the same species.[19] As such it can and does freely interbreed with populations of red jungle fowl.[19] Recent genetic analysis has revealed that at least the gene for yellow skin was incorporated into domestic birds through hybridization with the Grey junglefowl (G. sonneratii).[20] The traditional poultry farming view is stated in Encyclopædia Britannica (2007): "Humans first domesticated chickens of Indian origin for the purpose of cockfighting in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Very little formal attention was given to egg or meat production... "[2] In the last decade there have been a number of genetic studies. According to one study, a single domestication event occurring in the region of modern Thailand created the modern chicken with minor transitions separating the modern breeds.[21] However, that study was later found to be based on incomplete data, and recent studies point to multiple maternal origins, with the clade found in the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Africa, originating from the Indian subcontinent, where a large number of unique haplotypes occur.[22][23] It is postulated that the Jungle Fowl, known as the "bamboo fowl" in many Southeast Asian languages, is a special pheasant well adapted to take advantage of the large amounts of fruits that are produced during the end of the 50 year bamboo seeding cycle to boost its own reproduction.[24] According to Daniel H. Janzen of the University of Pennsylvania, in domesticating the chicken, humans took advantage of this prolific reproduction of the jungle fowl when exposed to large amount of food.[25]

It has been claimed (based on paleoclimatic assumptions) that chickens were domesticated in Southern China in 6000 BC.[26] However, according to a recent study,[27] "it is not known whether these birds made much contribution to the modern domestic fowl. Chickens from the Harappan culture of the Indus Valley (2500-2100 BC), in what today is Pakistan, may have been the main source of diffusion throughout the world." A northern road spread the chicken to the Tarim basin of central Asia. The chicken reached Europe (Romania, Turkey, Greece, Ukraine) about 3000 BC.[28] Introduction into Western Europe came far later, about the 1st millennium BC. Phoenicians spread chickens along the Mediterranean coasts, to Iberia. Breeding increased under the Roman Empire, and was reduced in the Middle Ages.[28] Middle East traces of chicken go back to a little earlier than 2000 BC, in Syria; chicken went southward only in the 1st millennium BC. The chicken reached Egypt for purposes of cock fighting about 1400 BC, and became widely bred only in Ptolemaic Egypt (about 300 BC).[28] Little is known about the chicken's introduction into Africa. Three possible routes of introduction in about the early first millennium AD could have been through the Egyptian Nile Valley, the East Africa Roman-Greek or Indian trade, or from Carthage and the Berbers, across the Sahara. The earliest known remains are from Mali, Nubia, East Coast, and South Africa and date back to the middle of the first millennium AD.[28] Domestic chicken in the Americas before Western conquest is still an ongoing discussion, but blue-egged chickens, found only in the Americas and Asia, suggest an Asian origin for early American chickens.[28]

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.[28]

South America[edit]

An unusual variety of chicken that has its origins in South America is the araucana, bred in southern Chile by the Mapuche people. Araucanas, some of which are tailless and some of which have tufts of feathers around their ears, lay blue-green eggs. It has long been suggested that they pre-date the arrival of European chickens brought by the Spanish and are evidence of pre-Columbian trans-Pacific contacts between Asian or Pacific Oceanic peoples, particularly the Polynesians, and South America. In 2007, an international team of researchers reported the results of analysis of chicken bones found on the Arauco Peninsula in south-central Chile. Radiocarbon dating suggested that the chickens were Pre-Columbian, and DNA analysis showed that they were related to prehistoric populations of chickens in Polynesia.[29] These results appeared to confirm that the chickens came from Polynesia and that there were transpacific contacts between Polynesia and South America before Columbus's arrival in the Americas.[30]

However, a later report looking at the same specimens concluded:

A published, apparently pre-Columbian, Chilean specimen and six pre-European Polynesian specimens also cluster with the same European/Indian subcontinental/Southeast Asian sequences, providing no support for a Polynesian introduction of chickens to South America. In contrast, sequences from two archaeological sites on Easter Island group with an uncommon haplogroup from Indonesia, Japan, and China and may represent a genetic signature of an early Polynesian dispersal. Modeling of the potential marine carbon contribution to the Chilean archaeological specimen casts further doubt on claims for pre-Columbian chickens, and definitive proof will require further analyses of ancient DNA sequences and radiocarbon and stable isotope data from archaeological excavations within both Chile and Polynesia.[31]

Farming[edit]

Main article: Poultry farming
A former battery hen, five days after her release. Note the pale comb and missing feathers.

More than 50 billion chickens are reared annually as a source of food, for both their meat and their eggs.[32][better source needed]

The vast majority of poultry are raised using intensive farming techniques. According to the Worldwatch Institute, 74 percent of the world's poultry meat, and 68 percent of eggs are produced this way.[33] One alternative to intensive poultry farming is free range farming.

Friction between these two main 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 due to increased productivity, stating that the animals are looked after in state-of-the-art environmentally controlled facilities.[citation needed]

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, utilize chicken waste as fertilizer in small gardens, and of course for the high-quality eggs and meat that are produced.

Reared for meat[edit]

Main article: Broiler
A commercial chicken house with open sides raising broiler pullets for meat

Chickens farmed for meat are called broiler chickens. Chickens will naturally live for 6 or more years, but broiler chickens typically take less than 6 weeks to reach slaughter size.[34] A free range or organic meat chicken will usually be slaughtered at about 14 weeks of age.

Reared for eggs[edit]

Chickens farmed for eggs are called egg-laying hens. In total, the UK alone consumes over 29 million eggs per day. Some hen breeds can produce over 300 eggs per year, with "the highest authenticated rate of egg laying being 371 eggs in 364 days".[35] After 12 months of laying, the commercial hen's egg-laying ability starts to decline to the point where the flock is unviable. Hens, particularly from battery cage systems, are sometimes infirm, have lost a significant amount of their feathers, and their life expectancy has been reduced from around 7 years to less than 2 years.[36] In the UK and Europe, laying hens are then slaughtered and used in processed foods, or sold as "soup hens".[36] In some other countries, flocks are sometimes force moulted, rather than being slaughtered, to reinvigorate egg-laying. This involves complete withdrawal of food (and sometimes water) for 7–14 days[37] or sufficiently long to cause a body weight loss of 25 to 35%,[38] or up to 28 days under experimental conditions[39] which presumably reflect farming practice[original research?]. This stimulates the hen to lose her feathers, but also reinvigorates egg-production. Some flocks may be force moulted several times. In 2003, more than 75% of all flocks were moulted in the US.[40]

Artificial incubation[edit]

An egg incubator

Incubation can successfully occur artificially in machines that provide the correct, controlled environment for the developing chick.[41][42][43][44] The average incubation period for chickens is 21 days but may depend on the temperature and humidity in the incubator. Temperature regulation is the most critical factor for a successful hatch. Variations of more than 1 °C (1.8 °F) from the optimum temperature of 37.5 °C (99.5 °F) will reduce hatch rates. Humidity is also important because the rate at which eggs lose water by evaporation depends on the ambient relative humidity. Evaporation can be assessed by candling, to view the size of the air sac, or by measuring weight loss. Relative humidity should be increased to around 70% in the last three days of incubation to keep the membrane around the hatching chick from drying out after the chick cracks the shell. Lower humidity is usual in the first 18 days to ensure adequate evaporation. The position of the eggs in the incubator can also influence hatch rates. For best results, eggs should be placed with the pointed ends down and turned regularly (at least three times per day) until one to three days before hatching. If the eggs aren't turned, the embryo inside may stick to the shell and may hatch with physical defects. Adequate ventilation is necessary to provide the embryo with oxygen. Older eggs require increased ventilation.

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.

As pets[edit]

Main article: Chickens as pets

Chickens are sometimes kept as pets and can be tamed by hand feeding, but roosters can sometimes become aggressive and noisy, although aggression can be curbed with proper handling. Some have advised against keeping them around very young children. Certain breeds, however, such as silkies and many bantam varieties are generally docile and are often recommended as good pets around children with disabilities.[45] Some people find chickens' behaviour entertaining and educational.[46]

Diseases and ailments[edit]

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.[47]

Some of the common diseases that affect chickens are shown below:

NameCommon nameCaused by
Aspergillosisfungi
Avian influenzabird fluvirus
HistomoniasisBlackhead diseaseprotozoal parasite
Botulismtoxin
Cage Layer Fatiguemineral deficiencies, lack of exercise
Campylobacteriosistissue injury in the gut
Coccidiosisparasites
Coldsvirus
Crop Boundimproper feeding
Dermanyssus gallinaeRed miteparasite
Egg boundoversized egg
Erysipelasbacteria
Fatty Liver Hemorrhagic Syndromehigh-energy food
Fowl Cholerabacteria
Fowl poxvirus
Fowl Typhoidbacteria
Gallid herpesvirus 1
or Infectious Laryngotracheitis
virus
GapewormSyngamus tracheaworms
Infectious Bronchitisvirus
Infectious Bursal DiseaseGumborovirus
Infectious Coryzabacteria
Lymphoid leukosisAvian leukosis virus
Marek's diseasevirus
MoniliasisYeast Infection
or Thrush
fungi
Mycoplasmasbacteria-like organisms
Newcastle diseasevirus
Necrotic Enteritisbacteria
OmphalitisMushy chick diseaseumbilical cord stump
Peritonitis[48]Infection in abdomen from egg yolk
Prolapse
Psittacosisbacteria
PullorumSalmonellabacteria
Scaly legparasites
Squamous cell carcinomacancer
Tibial dyschondroplasiaspeed growing
Toxoplasmosisprotozoal parasite
Ulcerative Enteritisbacteria
Ulcerative pododermatitisBumblefootbacteria

In religion and mythology[edit]

Vatican Persian Cock — A 1919 print of a fabric square of a Persian cock or a Persian bird design belonging to the Vatican (Holy See) in Rome dating to 600 C.E. Notice the halo denoting the status of being holy in that religious schema.

Since antiquity chickens have been, and still are, a sacred animal in some cultures[49] and deeply embedded within belief systems and religious worship. The term "Persian bird" for the cock appears to been given by the Greeks after Persian contact "because of his great importance and his religious use among the Persians".[50]

In Indonesia the chicken has great significance during the Hindu cremation ceremony. A chicken is considered a channel for evil spirits which may be present during the ceremony. A chicken is tethered by the leg and kept present at the ceremony for its duration to ensure that any evil spirits present go into the chicken and not the family members. The chicken is then taken home and returns to its normal life.

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.

The Greeks believed that even lions were afraid of cocks. 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.'"[51] It happened,[52] and Peter cried bitterly. This made the cock a symbol for both vigilance and betrayal. The rooster(cock) serves as a tangible vessel of Christ for some as in the gospel of Matthew, Mark and Luke in the New Testament with Christ speaking through the cock.[53]

Earlier, Jesus compares himself to a mother hen when talking about Jerusalem: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing."[54]

In the sixth century, Pope Gregory I declared the cock the emblem of Christianity[55] and another Papal enactment of the ninth century by Pope Nicholas I[49] ordered the figure of the cock to be placed on every church steeple.[56]

In many Central European folk tales, the devil is believed to flee at the first crowing of a cock.

In traditional Jewish practice, a kosher animal is swung around the head and then slaughtered on the afternoon before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in a ritual called kapparos; it is now common practice to cradle the bird and move it around the head. A chicken or fish is typically used because it is commonly available (and small enough to hold). The sacrifice of the animal is to receive atonement, for the animal symbolically takes on all the person's sins in kapparos. The meat is then donated to the poor. A woman brings a hen for the ceremony, while a man brings a rooster. Although not a sacrifice in the biblical sense, the death of the animal reminds the penitent sinner that his or her life is in God's hands.

The Talmud speaks of learning "courtesy toward one's mate" from the rooster.[57] This might refer to the fact that when a rooster finds something good to eat, he calls his hens to eat first. The Talmud likewise provides us with the statement "Had the Torah not been given to us, we would have learned modesty from cats, honest toil from ants, chastity from doves and gallantry from cocks,"[58][59] which may be further understood as to that of the gallantry of cocks being taken in the context of a religious instilling vessel of "a girt one of the loins" (Young's Literal Translation) that which is "stately in his stride" and "move with stately bearing" in the Book of Proverbs 30:29-31 as referenced by Michael V. Fox in his Proverbs 10-31 where Saʻadiah ben Yosef Gaon (Saadia Gaon) identifies the definitive trait of "A cock girded about the loins" in Proverbs 30:31 (Douay–Rheims Bible) as "the honesty of their behavior and their success",[60] identifying a spiritual purpose of a religious vessel within that religious instilling schema of purpose and use.

The chicken is one of the Zodiac symbols of the Chinese calendar. In Chinese folk religion, a cooked chicken as a religious offering is usually limited to ancestor veneration and worship of village deities. Vegetarian deities such as the Buddha are not recipients of such offerings. Under some observations, an offering of chicken is presented with "serious" prayer (while roasted pork is offered during a joyous celebration). In Confucian Chinese weddings, a chicken can be used as a substitute for one who is seriously ill or not available (e.g., sudden death) to attend the ceremony. A red silk scarf is placed on the chicken's head and a close relative of the absent bride/groom holds the chicken so the ceremony may proceed. However, this practice is rare today.

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 history[edit]

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,[61] the first Neolithic culture of Oceania.[62]

The first pictures of chickens in Europe are found on Corinthian pottery of the 7th century BC.[63][64] The poet Cratinus (mid-5th century BC, according to the later Greek author Athenaeus) calls the chicken "the Persian alarm". In Aristophanes's comedy The Birds (414 BC) a chicken is called "the Median bird", which points to an introduction from the East. Pictures of chickens are found on Greek red figure and black-figure pottery.

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).

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.

For the oracle "ex tripudiis" according to Cicero (Cic. de Div. ii.34), any bird could be used in auspice, and shows at one point that any bird could perform the tripudium[65] but normally only chickens ("pulli") were consulted. The chickens were cared for by the pullarius, who opened their cage and fed them pulses or a special kind of soft cake when an augury was needed. If the chickens stayed in their cage, made noises ("occinerent"), beat their wings or flew away, the omen was bad; if they ate greedily, the omen was good.[66]

In 249 BC, the Roman general Publius Claudius Pulcher had his "sacred chickens" "[67] thrown overboard when they refused to feed before the battle of Drepana, saying "If they won't eat, perhaps they will drink." He promptly lost the battle against the Carthaginians and 93 Roman ships were sunk. Back in Rome, he was tried for impiety and heavily fined.

In 162 BC, the Lex Faunia forbade fattening hens to conserve grain rations.[68][69] To get around this, the Romans castrated roosters(capon), which resulted in a doubling of size[70] despite the law that was passed in Rome that forbade the consumption of fattened chickens. It was renewed a number of times, but does not seem to have been successful. Fattening chickens with bread soaked in milk was thought to give especially delicious results. The Roman gourmet Apicius offers 17 recipes for chicken, mainly boiled chicken with a sauce. All parts of the animal are used: the recipes include the stomach, liver, testicles and even the pygostyle (the fatty "tail" of the chicken where the tail feathers attach).

The Roman author Columella gives advice on chicken breeding in his eighth book of his treatise, De Re Rustica (On Agriculture).[citation needed] He identified Tanagrian, Rhodic, Chalkidic and Median (commonly misidentified as Melian) breeds, which have an impressive appearance, a quarrelsome nature and were used for cockfighting by the Greeks (De Re Rustica 8.3.4). For farming, native (Roman) chickens are to be preferred, or a cross between native hens and Greek cocks (De Re Rustica 8.2.13). Dwarf chickens are nice to watch because of their size but have no other advantages.

According to Columella (De Re Rustica 8.2.7), the ideal flock consists of 200 birds, which can be supervised by one person if someone is watching for stray animals. White chickens should be avoided as they are not very fertile and are easily caught by eagles or goshawks. One cock should be kept for five hens. In the case of Rhodian and Median cocks that are very heavy and therefore not much inclined to sex, only three hens are kept per cock. The hens of heavy fowls are not much inclined to brood; therefore their eggs are best hatched by normal hens. A hen can hatch no more than 15-23 eggs, depending on the time of year, and supervise no more than 30 hatchlings. Eggs that are long and pointed give more male, rounded eggs mainly female hatchlings (De Re Rustica 8.5.11).

Columella also states that chicken coops should face southeast and lie adjacent to the kitchen, as smoke is beneficial for the animals and "poultry never thrive so well as in warmth and smoke" (De Re Rustica 8.3.1).[71] Coops should consist of three rooms and possess a hearth. Dry dust or ash should be provided for dust-baths.

According to Columella (De Re Rustica 8.4.1), chickens should be fed on barley groats, small chick-peas, millet and wheat bran, if they are cheap. Wheat itself should be avoided as it is harmful to the birds. Boiled ryegrass (Lolium sp.) and the leaves and seeds of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) can be used as well. Grape marc can be used, but only when the hens stop laying eggs, that is, about the middle of November; otherwise eggs are small and few. When feeding grape marc, it should be supplemented with some bran. Hens start to lay eggs after the winter solstice, in warm places around the first of January, in colder areas in the middle of February. Parboiled barley increases their fertility; this should be mixed with alfalfa leaves and seeds, or vetches or millet if alfalfa is not at hand. Free-ranging chickens should receive two cups of barley daily.

Columella[citation needed] advises farmers to slaughter hens that are older than three years, because they no longer produce sufficient eggs.

According to Aldrovandi: Capons were produced by burning "the hind part of the bowels, or loins or spurs"[72] with a hot iron. The wound was treated with potter's chalk.

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

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".[73]

As food[edit]

Main article: Chicken (food)

The meat of the chicken, also called "chicken", is a type of poultry meat. 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, and the meat can be cooked in many different ways. Popular chicken dishes include roasted chicken, fried chicken, chicken soup, Buffalo wings, tandoori chicken, butter chicken, and chicken rice. Chicken is also a staple of many fast food restaurants.

Eggs[edit]

Main articles: Egg (food) and List of egg dishes

In 2000, there were 50.4 million tons of eggs produced in the world (Executive guide to world poultry trends, 2001)[74] and an estimated 53.4 million tons of table eggs were produced during 2002.[75] In 2009, an estimated 62.1 million metric tons of eggs were produced worldwide from a total laying flock of approximately 6.4 billion hens.[76]

Chicken eggs are widely used in many types of dishes, both sweet and savory, including many baked goods. Eggs can be scrambled, fried, hard-boiled, soft-boiled, pickled, and poached. The albumen, or egg white, contains protein but little or no fat, and can be used in cooking separately from the yolk. Egg whites may be aerated or whipped to a light, fluffy consistency and are often used in desserts such as meringues and mousse. Ground egg shells are sometimes used as a food additive to deliver calcium. Hens do not need a male to produce eggs, only to fertilize them. A flock containing only females will still produce eggs; however, the eggs will all be infertile.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ according to Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds, Ed. Perrins, Christopher. Buffalo, N.Y.: Firefly Books, Ltd., 2003.
  2. ^ a b Garrigus, W. P. (2007), "Poultry Farming". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  3. ^ Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat, (Anthea Bell, translator) The History of Food, Ch. 11 "The History of Poultry", revised ed. 2009, p. 306.
  4. ^ Howard Carter, "An Ostracon Depicting a Red Jungle-Fowl (The Earliest Known Drawing of the Domestic Cock)" The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 9.1/2 (April 1923), pp. 1-4.
  5. ^ Pritchard, "The Asiatic Campaigns of Thutmose III" Ancient Near East Texts related to the Old Testament, p240.
  6. ^ Roehrig, Catharine H.; Dreyfus, Renée; Keller, Cathleen A. (2005). Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art. p. 268. ISBN 978-1-58839-173-5. 
  7. ^ "Cockerel - definitions from Dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved August 29, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Pullet - definitions from Dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved August 29, 2010. 
  9. ^ Definition of "chook" in Encarta. The vernacular use is said to be offensive in this dictionary but it may also be used as a term of jocular familiarity. Archived from the original on October 31, 2009. 
  10. ^ Berhardt, Clyde E. B. (1986). I Remember: Eighty Years of Black Entertainment, Big Bands. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 153. ISBN 978-0-8122-8018-0. OCLC 12805260. 
  11. ^ "Info on Chicken Care". ideas4pets. 2003. Retrieved August 13, 2008. 
  12. ^ Gerard P.Worrell AKA "Farmer Jerry". "Frequently asked questions about chickens & eggs". Ferry Landing Farm & Apiary. Retrieved August 13, 2008. 
  13. ^ "The Poultry Guide - A to Z and FAQs". Ruleworks.co.uk. Retrieved August 29, 2010. 
  14. ^ Smith, Jamon. Tuscaloosanews.com "World’s oldest chicken starred in magic shows, was on 'Tonight Show’", Tuscaloosa News (Alabama, USA). August 6, 2006. Retrieved on February 26, 2008.
  15. ^ Stonehead. "Introducing new hens to a flock « Musings from a Stonehead". Stonehead.wordpress.com. Retrieved August 29, 2010. 
  16. ^ a b c Grandin, Temple; Johnson, Catherine (2005). Animals in Translation. New York, New York: Scribner. pp. 69–71. ISBN 0-7432-4769-8. 
  17. ^ Sherwin, C.M. and Nicol, C.J., (1993). Factors influencing floor-laying by hens in modified cages. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 36: 211-222
  18. ^ Scientists Find Chickens Retain Ancient Ability to Grow Teeth Ammu Kannampilly, ABC News, February 27, 2006. Retrieved October 1, 2007.
  19. ^ a b A genetic variation map for chicken with 2.8 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms. International Chicken Polymorphism Map Consortium (GK Wong et al.) 2004. Nature 432, 717-722| doi:10.1038/nature03156 PMID 15592405
  20. ^ Eriksson J, Larson G, Gunnarsson U, Bed'hom B, Tixier-Boichard M, et al. (2008) Identification of the Yellow Skin Gene Reveals a Hybrid Origin of the Domestic Chicken. PLoS Genet January 23, 2008 Genetics.plosjournals.org
  21. ^ Fumihito, A; Miyake, T; Sumi, S; Takada, M; Ohno, S; Kondo, N (December 20, 1994), One subspecies of the red junglefowl (Gallus gallus gallus) suffices as the matriarchic ancestor of all domestic breeds, PNAS 91 (26): 12505–12509, doi:10.1073/pnas.91.26.12505 
  22. ^ Liu, Yi-Ping; Wu, Gui-Sheng; Yao, Yong-Gang; Miao, Yong-Wang; Luikart, Gordon; Baig, Mumtaz; Beja-Pereira, Albano; Ding, Zhao-Li; Palanichamy, Malliya Gounder; Zhang, Ya-Ping (2006), Multiple maternal origins of chickens: Out of the Asian jungles, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 38 (1): 12–19, doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2005.09.014 
  23. ^ Zeder, et al. (2006). "Documenting domestication: the intersection of genetics and archaeology". Trends in Genetics 22 (3): 139–155. doi:10.1016/j.tig.2006.01.007. 
  24. ^ King, Rick (February 24, 2009), Rat Attack, NOVA and National Geographic Television 
  25. ^ King, Rick (February 1, 2009), Plant vs. Predator, NOVA 
  26. ^ West, B.; Zhou, B.X. (1988). "Did chickens go north? New evidence for domestication". J. Archaeol. Sci. 14: 515–533. 
  27. ^ Al-Nasser, A. et al. (2007). "Overview of chicken taxonomy and domestication". World's Poultry Science Journal 63: 285–300. doi:10.1017/S004393390700147X. 
  28. ^ a b c d e f CHOF : The Cambridge History of Food, 2000, Cambridge University Press, vol.1, pp496-499
  29. ^ DNA reveals how the chicken crossed the sea Brendan Borrell, Nature, June 5, 2007. Retrieved October 1, 2007.
  30. ^ A. A. Storey et al., "Radiocarbon and DNA evidence for a pre-Columbian introduction of Polynesian chickens to Chile", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0703993104; John Noble Wilford, "First Chickens in Americas were Brought from Polynesia, New York Times, June 5, 2007.
  31. ^ Indo-European and Asian origins for Chilean and Pacific chickens revealed by mtDNA. Jaime Gongora, Nicolas J. Rawlence, Victor A. Mobegi, Han Jianlin, Jose A. Alcalde, Jose T. Matus, Olivier Hanotte, Chris Moran, J. Austin, Sean Ulm, Atholl J. Anderson, Greger Larson and Alan Cooper, "Indo-European and Asian origins for Chilean and Pacific chickens revealed by mtDNA" PNAS July 29, 2008 vol. 105 no 30 Pnas.org
  32. ^ How to Do Animal Rights - Chicken Statistics - animalethics.org.uk/i-ch7-2-chickens.html
  33. ^ "Towards Happier Meals In A Globalized World". World Watch Institute. 
  34. ^ "Broiler Chickens Fact Sheet // Animals Australia". Animalsaustralia.org. Retrieved August 29, 2010. 
  35. ^ Guinness World Records 2011 ed. by Craig Glenday - page 286
  36. ^ a b Browne, Anthony (March 10, 2002). "Ten weeks to live". The Guardian (London). Retrieved April 28, 2010. 
  37. ^ Patwardhan, D. and King, A., (2011). Review: feed withdrawal and non feed withdrawal moult. World's Poultry Science Journal, 67: 253-268
  38. ^ Webster, A.B., (2003). Physiology and behavior of the hen during induced moult. Poultry Science, 82: 992-1002
  39. ^ Molino, A.B., Garcia, E.A., Berto, D.A., Pelícia, K., Silva, A.P. and Vercese F., (2009). The Effects of Alternative Forced-Molting Methods on The Performance and Egg Quality of Commercial Layers. Brazilian Journal of Poultry Science, 11: 109-113
  40. ^ Yousaf, M. and Chaudhry, A.S., (2008). History, changing scenarios and future strategies to induce moulting in laying hens. World's Poultry Science Journal, 64: 65-75
  41. ^ Joe G. Berry. "Artificial Incubation". Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, Oklahoma State University. Retrieved September 29, 2010. 
  42. ^ Phillip J. Clauer. "Incubating Eggs". Virginia Cooperative Extension Service, Virginia State University. Retrieved October 1, 2010. 
  43. ^ "Incubation Handbook". Brinsea Products Ltd. Retrieved September 30, 2010. 
  44. ^ "How To Hatch Chicken Eggs". www.backyardchickens.com. Retrieved September 30, 2010. 
  45. ^ "Clucks and Chooks: A guide to keeping chickens". 
  46. ^ United Poultry Concerns. "Providing a Good Home for Chickens". Retrieved May 4, 2009. 
  47. ^ White, T. M.; Gilden, D. H.; Mahalingam, R. (2001). "An animal model of varicella virus infection". Brain pathology (Zurich, Switzerland) 11 (4): 475–479. doi:10.1111/j.1750-3639.2001.tb00416.x. PMID 11556693.  edit
  48. ^ "Clucks and Chooks: guide to keeping chickens". 
  49. ^ a b Jerry Adler and Andrew Lawler, "How the Chicken Conquered the World," Smithsonian magazine, June 2012
  50. ^ Dr. John P. Peters, "The Cock," Journal of the American Oriental Society, Volume 33, 1913, p.381 [1]
  51. ^ Luke 22:34
  52. ^ Luke 22:61
  53. ^ The New Testament | Matthew 26:34 | Mark 14:30 | Luke 22:34 | Matthew 26:74-75 | Mark 14:71-72 | Luke 22:60-61
  54. ^ Matthew 23:37; also Luke 13:34. For a recent study of chickens in the New Testament, see Joshua N. Tilton "Chickens and the Cultural Context of the Gospels" www.jerusalemperspective.com.
  55. ^ The Antiquary: a magazine devoted to the study of the past, Volume 17 edited by Edward Walford, John Charles Cox, George Latimer Apperson - page 202
  56. ^ The Philadelphia Museum bulletin, Volumes 1-5, Pennsylvania Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, p 14, 1906
  57. ^ Eruvin 100b.
  58. ^ A Treasury of Jewish Quotations By Joseph L. Baron - 1985
  59. ^ Jonathan ben Nappaha. Talmud: Erubin 100b
  60. ^ PROVERBS 10-31, Volume 18, Michael V. Fox, Yale University Press 2009, 704 pages
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  62. ^ [3] Anthropological Genetics: Theory, Methods and Applications edited by Michael H. Crawford - Cambridge University Press, November 30, 2006 - page 411
  63. ^ [4] Regional Greek Cooking By Dean Karayanis, Catherine Karayanis - Hippocrene Books, March 1, 2008 - page 176
  64. ^ [5] Cooking With the Bible: Biblical Food, Feasts, And Lore By Anthony F. Chiffolo, Rayner W. Hesse - Greenwood Publishing Group, August 30, 2006 - page 207
  65. ^ [6] A classical and archaeological dictionary of the manners, customs, laws, institutions, arts, etc. of the celebrated nations of antiquity, and of the middle ages: To which is prefixed A synoptical and chronological view of ancient history - P. Austin Nuttall - Printed for Whittaker and co., 1840 - page 601
  66. ^ [7] Chambers's information for the people, ed. by W. and R. Chambers - Chambers W. and R., ltd - page 458
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  69. ^ [A History of Food By Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat - John Wiley & Sons, March 25, 2009 - page 305]
  70. ^ Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat, (Anthea Bell, translator) The History of Food, Ch. 11 "The History of Poultry", revised ed. 2009, p. 305.
  71. ^ [10] The New England farmer, Volume 6 By Thomas Greene Fessenden - Thomas W. Shepard, 1828 - page 69
  72. ^ [11] The Wisdom of Birds: An Illustrated History of Ornithology By Tim Birkhead - Bloomsbury Publishing, March 7, 2011 - page 278
  73. ^ [12] The Enigmas of Easter Island By Paul Bahn, John Flenley - Oxford University Press, May 29, 2003 - page 96
  74. ^ [13] Poultry Genetics, Breeding and Biotechnology edited by W. M. Muir, S. E. Aggrey - CABI, September 4, 2003 - page 5
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  76. ^ [15] WATT Ag Net - Watt Publishing Co

Further reading[edit]

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European Union Council Directive 1999/74/EC

European Union Council Directive 1999/74/EC[1] is legislation passed by the European Union on the minimum standards for keeping egg laying hens which effectively bans conventional battery cages. The directive, passed in 1999, banned conventional battery cages in the EU from January 1, 2012 after a 13-year phase-out. Battery cages were already banned in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Sweden prior to 2012. The directive does not apply to establishments with fewer than 350 laying hens or establishments rearing breeding laying hens. Such establishments are, however, subject to the requirements of Directive 98/58/EC. The directive is not supported with fines, penalties or export bans.

As alternatives to battery cages, Directive 1999/74/EC allows non-cage systems and furnished cages. Furnished cages therefore represent a feasible alternative to battery cages in the EU after 2012. Under the directive, furnished cages must provide at least the following: 750 cm2 per hen, of which 600 cm2 is 45 cm high, a nest, a littered area for scratching and pecking, 15 cm of perch and 12 cm of food trough per hen and a claw shortening device. Austria banned battery cages in 2009 and is set to ban furnished cages by 2020. Belgium has also banned the battery cage – and proposes to ban furnished cages by 2024. Germany has introduced a ‘family cage’, which has more space than the furnished cages used in other countries, however, consumers in Germany have been rejecting these eggs. Outside the EU, Switzerland has already banned both the battery and furnished cage systems.[2]

In February 2010, the Polish government formally requested the EU to delay enacting Directive 1999/74/EC by 5 years until 2017,[3] however, this was unsuccessful.

According to figures submitted to the European Commission in 2011, 14 countries were expected to be battery cage free by 1 January 2012. However, six states including Portugal, Poland and Romania admitted they would not be ready, while Spain and Italy, among others, did not know or would not say whether they will meet the deadline.[4] In France one third of egg producers have gone out of business and according to figures of the UGPVB (the industry association) 5% of producers were still not compliant as of January 2012 and have had their licences withdrawn.[5] This has led to fears that cheaper, illegal eggs, particularly liquid egg products, from non-compliant states will flood the market undercutting compliant egg producers. John Dalli, the EU health commissioner, has issued legal warnings to 13 countries over their lack of readiness or effort to enforce the ban.[6] The 13 member states already found to be in breach of the directive are: Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Spain, Greece, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and the Netherlands.[7]

Compliance beyond January 2012[edit]

It is clear that beyond the date of the law coming into effect, many hens are still being housed in battery cages. European Commission figures show that more than 47 million hens are still (January 2012) in conventional battery cages across the EU, representing 14.3% of production,[8] although it has been reported this figure might be as high as 23% of EU egg production - equivalent to 84 million hens laying 70 million eggs a day.[9]

Including the UK, 15 EU states reported to the EU’s Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health that they had non-compliant producers. These states were Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, UK, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Romania. Some of these countries, such as Italy and Belgium, admit to having 30% of illegal production.

In the UK, there are approximately 31 million egg laying hens. Over £400 million has been spent to meet the standards. In January 2012, reports stated that figures from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) indicate 423,000 hens on 32 farms in the UK were still being housed in battery cages.[10][11][12] This represents a non-compliance rate of 1%.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "European Union Council Directive 1999/74/EC". Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  2. ^ "Ecologist, September 2011". Retrieved January 22, 2012. 
  3. ^ "WorldPoultry.net, February 2010". Retrieved January 15, 2011. 
  4. ^ Hickman, Martin (27 December 2011). "The Independent, December 27th, 2011". London. Retrieved 15 January 2012. 
  5. ^ "20 Minutes (France), March 28th, 2012". Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  6. ^ "Vegnews web-page". Retrieved 15 Jan 2012. 
  7. ^ "Farmers Guardian, December 20th, 2011". Retrieved 15 January 2012. 
  8. ^ "The Ranger, January 2012". Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  9. ^ Lewis, Jason (1 January 2012). "The Telegraph, January 15th, 2012". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 15 January 2012. 
  10. ^ "The Ranger, January 2012". Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  11. ^ "Compassion in World Farming web-page". Retrieved 14 January 2012. 
  12. ^ "Farmers Guardian, January 13th, 2012". Retrieved 15 Jan 2012. 
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Hybridizes locally with G. sonneratii in areas of contact (Sibley and Monroe 1990).

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