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poultry

poultry, domesticated fowl kept primarily for meat and eggs; including birds of the order Galliformes, e.g., the chicken, turkey, guinea fowl, pheasant, quail, and peacock; and natatorial (swimming) birds, e.g., the duck and goose. Several poultry birds, including the chicken and the goose, were domesticated over 3,000 years ago. The chief poultry bird is the chicken, which probably originated as a jungle fowl in SW Asia; it may have been domesticated 7,000 or more years ago. Until the mid-20th cent., poultry were raised for domestic and commercial use on many farms in the United States, with the production of eggs being of primary importance. After World War II, faster growing birds were developed, and large-scale producers emphasizing the raising of birds of meat came to dominate the poultry industry, with the economic value of broiler chickens greatly exceeding that of eggs. Specialized hatcheries deliver chicks fresh from the incubator to commercial growers, who mass-produce birds under precisely controlled conditions on diets scientifically calculated to produce rapid growth to market size, for delivery to processors. Many distinct chicken breeds, once appreciated for their particular combinations of characteristics, have been combined through selective breeding into a few relatively standard types that are notably efficient converters of feed into meat or eggs. The dominant meat chicken today is a cross between the fast-growing female White Plymouth Rock chicken, and the deep-breasted male Cornish chicken (see Cornish hen). The predominant egg type in the United States today is the White Leghorn chicken. Dual-purpose meat-and-egg breeds have all but disappeared. Turkeys have been similarly standardized. Because of their lower cost and lower fat content, chicken and turkey are increasingly popular protein sources with American consumers, rivaling pork and even beef in per capita consumption. A few breeds of chicken are raised chiefly for their ornamental appearance or as pets. These include the Polish varieties, characterized by their large showy crests; the fighting, or game, varieties, still bred where cockfighting is popular; and the Bantams, which are primarily miniature counterparts of standard breeds.

Bibliography

See R. Moreng and J. Avens, Poultry Science and Production (1985); R. E. Austic and M. C. Nesheim, Poultry Production (13th ed. 1990).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Chicken

 

a domestic bird of the order Galliformes. Descended from the wild jungle fowl, chickens are the most widely domesticated species of poultry. They are raised for their meat and eggs, and their feathers and down are also used.

Chickens are classified by their principal products into egg, dual-purpose (meat and eggs), and meat breeds. Each has specific anatomical and physiological characteristics. Laying hens are small, grow rapidly, and mature early. The meat and dual-purpose breeds are larger, have well-developed muscles, and mature later.

Roosters develop bony processes, spurs, on the lower part of the metatarsus. Both hens and roosters have crests, which come in such shapes as leaf (with several teeth), rose, and pea. Hens of egg breeds most commonly have leaf crests, which fall to the side at the second or third tooth. The beak is slightly curved. In most breeds, the beak and metatarsus are the same color: yellow, pale pink, black, and so on. Plumage color varies.

Hens of egg breeds weigh 1.8–2.2 kg and roosters, 2.7–3.0 kg; of dual-purpose breeds, 2.5–3.0 kg and 3.5–4.0 kg; and of meat breeds, 3.0–3.5 kg and 3.5–4.5 kg. Chicks at birth weigh 30–35 g. Chicks of dual-purpose breeds at 70–80 days usually weigh 20–30 percent more than those of egg breeds. Broilers attain a weight of 1.5–1.6 kg by 60–65 days of age. The white meat of broilers is a dietetic product; it contains over 20 percent complete proteins and only 5–7 percent fat.

Hens reach sexual maturity (age at the time of laying the first egg) at five or six months. Birds of egg breeds mature earlier than those of dual-purpose breeds. Annual production of layers is 200–220 eggs and at the best purebred farms, 220–250 (the record is 365). The highest egg production is found in crossbred and interlineal hybrid birds selected for egg productivity and egg quality. A hen’s early eggs weigh 40–50 g; by the age of one year she lays eggs weighing 55–65 g. Hens of dual-purpose breeds lay smaller eggs than those of laying breeds. Egg laying ceases in hens with the onset of molting, which in good layers lasts for two to three weeks and two months or more in poor ones. After molting, hens resume laying if feeding and maintenance conditions are good.

Hens are capable of laying eggs for approximately ten years. Commercial farms use hens only during the first year of egg laying for economic reasons: egg production decreases with age by 10–15 percent each year. On purebred farms they are used for two to three years, and only highly productive birds are kept for the second and third years. A purebred flock usually consists of 55–60 percent pullets, 30–35 percent two-year-olds, and 10 percent three-year-olds. Roosters are used up to two years (the more valuable ones three years). The sex ratio in a purebred flock is one rooster for eight to 12 hens.

Hens may be kept without roosters when only food eggs are desired. The instinct for brooding is poorly developed in the majority of cultivated breeds, and eggs are hatched in incubators. The period of embryonic development of a chick averages 21 days. Incubation of all eggs suitable for hatching will yield several dozen chicks from each hen.

Chickens are kept in poultry houses (on the floor or in cages). Rations include grain of two or three types—for example, corn and barley (65–70 percent of the weight of all dry fodders), oilcakes and grist (8–12 percent), and dry animal fodders—fish meal and meat-and-bone meal (3–5 percent), dried yeast (1–3 percent), edible roots and tubers, grass meal, mineral fodders, and vitamin supplements. In countries where poultry raising is well developed, the commercial feed industry manufactures ready-mixed formulas for all ages of chickens. Large specialized chicken and egg farms produce eggs and poultry meat on a commercial basis. The principal tasks of chicken breeding are developing specialized egg-laying and meat lines and testing them for matching and crossbreeding to obtain hybrid layers and broilers.

REFERENCES

Fauna SSSR: Ptitsy, vol. 1, issue 4. Moscow-Leningrad, 1941.
Sel’skokhoziaistvennaia ptitsa. Edited by E. E. Penionzhkevich, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1962.
Smetnev, S. I. Ptitsevodstvo, 5th ed. Moscow, 1970.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

chicken

[′chik·ən]
(vertebrate zoology)
Galus galus. The common domestic fowl belonging to the order Galliformes.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

chicken

slang insult used toward the timid. [Western Folklore: Jobes, 322]

chicken

indicates martinetish authority. [Military Slang: Wentworth, 98]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

chicken

1. a domestic fowl bred for its flesh or eggs, esp a young one
2. any of various similar birds, such as a prairie chicken
3. Informal any of various, often dangerous, games or challenges in which the object is to make one's opponent lose his nerve
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005

Chickens

(dreams)
This flightless bird may be pointing to personal characteristics and needs that you may not necessarily want to look at. Consider the activities in the dream, as well as the mood, and then attempt to make a good interpretation. Chickens can represent cowardliness, gossip, excessive talking, and powerlessness. They are not known for their intelligence or beauty, and their presence in your dream could be an invitation to get more serious and better focused. The more positive suggestion in this dream is that chickens lay eggs. Eggs are symbolic of something new and fragile. They represent life and development in its earliest forms and as such, their possibilities are limitless.
Bedside Dream Dictionary by Silvana Amar Copyright © 2007 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
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