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A Brief Introduction To Chickens

The generic term “Chickens” although widely used gives little indication of the multitude of species the name encompasses or the geographical distribution of the various breeds and varieties. Chickens as a species have been domesticated for thousands of years and today there are hundreds of breeds available with varieties originating from many different countries of the World.
Most of these species have been bred for one of three purposes: To provide eggs, meat or to be kept as decorative pets. Having said this, all chickens are edible, all lay eggs and most are quite attractive in their own way so they are the ultimate multi-purpose bird.
Although most of the world’s chicken population is to be found on industrial scale farms, using them for meat and egg production, there are an ever growing number of people who keep them as pets. This can range from keeping a few hens in the back yard for fresh eggs and the occasional bird for the table, right through to those keeping rare and endangered species, thus acting as conservationists.
Virtually all poultry species will inter breed, and although a few hybrid species are highly prized for food production, it is generally best when keeping them as pets to keep each variety separate, and if breeding them to try and adhere to the standards set down by the various governing bodies. This is especially important when keeping the rarer or more esoteric breeds, and of course if you plan to show or sell any surplus offspring this is a must.
The main bodies governing the breeds include the Poultry Club of Great Britain, which publishes the British Poultry Standard; while other important ones are, the Australian Poultry Standard (which also covers other types of fowl), and the American Bantam Association, which (as its name would suggest) deals exclusively with Bantams.
Chickens and Bantams make great pets, and given their food value are one of the few who attempt to pay their way.