poultry

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poultry,

domesticated fowl kept primarily for meat and eggs; including birds of the order Galliformes, e.g., the chicken, turkeyturkey,
common name for a large game and poultry bird related to the grouse and the pheasant. Its name derives from its "turk-turk" call. Turkeys are indigenous to the New World; American fossils date back 40 million years to the Oligocene.
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, guinea fowlguinea fowl
, common name for any of the seven species of gallinaceous birds of the family Numididae, native to Africa and Madagascar. The helmeted guinea fowl, Numida meleagris,
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, pheasantpheasant,
common name for some members of a family (Phasianidae) of henlike birds related to the grouse and including the Old World partridge, the peacock, various domestic and jungle fowls, and the true pheasants (genus Phasianus).
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, quailquail,
common name for a variety of small game birds related to the partridge, pheasant, and more distantly to the grouse. There are three subfamilies in the quail family: the New World quails; the Old World quails and partridges; and the true pheasants and seafowls.
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, and peacockpeacock
or peafowl,
large bird of the genus Pavo, in the pheasant family, native to E Asia. There are two main species, the common (Pavo cristatus), and the Javanese (P.
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; and natatorial (swimming) birds, e.g., the duckduck,
common name for wild and domestic waterfowl of the family Anatidae, which also includes geese and swans. It is hunted and bred for its meat, eggs, and feathers. Strictly speaking, duck refers to the female and drake to the male.
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 and goosegoose,
common name for large wild and domesticated swimming birds related to the duck and the swan. Strictly speaking, the term goose is applied to the female and gander to the male.
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. 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 incubatorincubator,
apparatus for the maintenance of controlled conditions in which eggs can be hatched artificially. Incubator houses with double walls of mud, a fireroom, and several compartments each holding about 6,000 hens' eggs were developed in ancient times; the Chinese have long
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 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 henCornish hen
or Cornish chicken,
breed of poultry that originated in Cornwall, England, but gained prominence only after it was established in the United States. Its body shape is quite different from that of other chickens.
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). The predominant egg type in the United States today is the White Leghorn chickenLeghorn chicken,
relatively small, white-colored breed of poultry that currently dominates the American egg-producing class. The bird, as bred today, produces a good number of chalk white eggs, a feature which has brought it to the forefront of modern commercial egg production.
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. 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).

poultry

[′pōl·tre]
(agriculture)
Domesticated fowl grown for their meat and eggs.