Where do chickens come from?
The chicken is believed to be descended from the wild red jungle fowl of south-east Asia.
There are more chickens in the world than any other bird. In fact, more than 50 billion chickens are reared annually as a source of food, for both their meat and their eggs.
Chickens farmed for meat are called broiler chickens, whilst those farmed for eggs are called egg-laying hens.
The natural life of chickens
Chickens are gregarious birds and live together as a flock with a distinct hierarchy or “pecking order.” They would naturally spend their day foraging for food, scratching the ground looking for insects and seeds.
When a cockerel finds food, he may call the hens to eat it by clucking in a high pitch and picking up and dropping the food. This behaviour can also be seen in mother hens, calling their chicks.
Chickens tend to range widely, using the cover of trees and vegetation for safety from predators.
Life on some farms and small-holdings is just like that. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the 50 billion chickens reared each year experience intensive farming methods.
The reality of life on the farm
Different methods are used for producing meat chickens and egg-laying hens.