General information

Where did the chickens come from? Can I give a short answer?


References to the article:
Osadchaya Yu.V. Historical aspects of the emergence of specialization in egg farming // Agriculture, forestry and water management. 2014. № 6 [Electronic resource]. URL: (appeal date: 09/23/2018).

Introduction. Breeding birds began simultaneously with its domestication, when each owner of the hens selected to reproduce the best individuals. By the time of the transition of the poultry industry to industrial basis, breeders have created several hundred breeds of chickens. Industrial poultry production has presented its requirements for the quality of the breed. Over the years, breeders have improved the breed, breeding crosses and specialized lines, creating the corresponding bird. For example, a bank chicken (Gallus bankiva) lays only 8-15 eggs, in 1925 the chicken laid 175 eggs a year, and the egg production of a modern layer is 320-350 eggs. Such growth of productivity, equally, is promoted by new methods of feeding and housing, since the improvement of technology allows the bird to realize the created genetic potential. Nevertheless, the study of the previous experience of the history of the development of the poultry industry of the world is not only informative, but also of practical importance, following D. Chosser's well-known dictum “There is no such custom that would not be old.” This article will initiate the following publications devoted to the study of the experience of the world poultry industry in breeding and breeding chickens.

The origin and distribution of chickens. The literature on the origin of domestic chickens, their wild ancestors, the time and place of domestication is extremely controversial: according to different authors, the dates of the same events differ by hundreds and even thousands of years. Fundamental research of C. Darwin on the origin of domestic chickens, a thorough comparison with four wild species (Gallus bankiva, G.sonneratii, G.Stanley, G.varius, according to Darwin) showed that all breeds are descended from one species - Bank chicken.

Systematics of the species G. gallus different authors have different. Bank chicken Darwin, like many other authors, attributed to the category of species. However, in modern works on the systematics of the bird, it is listed as one of the five subspecies G. gallus (another well-established name: red jungle chicken - Red jungle fowl). Judging by the range of distribution given by Darwin G.bankivahe meant view G.gallus. Many scientists agree with Darwin’s theory of the monophilic origin of domestic chickens [5, 6], although there is a theory about the polyphyletic origin [16]. However, all scientists agree that the main ancestor of domestic chickens is a species G.gallus.

In the past, the polyphyletic hypothesis of the origin of chickens was basic and was based on the phenotypic diversity of modern chickens. But, A. Fumihito and colleagues convincingly showed that the genes inherent in modern chickens were also present in chickens found in northeastern Thailand. This confirms the geographical origin of chickens, which coincides with the archaeological data.

As it was believed until recently, the first information about the domestication of chickens dates back to the 3rd millennium BC. Judging from the archaeological excavations, in the area of ​​the cities of Harappa and Mohenjodaro, located in the Indus Valley (present-day Pakistan), where remains of chicken bones, figurines and seals depicting chickens were found, they were already in a domesticated state in about 3250 BC . [43,44].

In the Chinese encyclopedia of 1609, on the basis of ancient documents, it is reported that domestic chickens existed in China around 1400 BC. and states that chickens got there from the west. However, some researchers on the basis of archaeological finds indicate that chickens in China were tamed a century earlier than the beginning of the development of the oldest Indian civilization - 6000 BC.

One of the oldest images of the rooster, dated 1840 BC, found in Egypt in a temple near Thebes. At this time, trade routes linked Egypt, Mesopotamia and India. Further ancient information that the Egyptians were familiar with domestic chickens dates back to the reign of Thutmose III (1525-1473 BC): there was a picture of a rooster’s head on the wall of the tomb of Vizier Reimard, in the scene of offering gifts to Kefti ​​( modern Crete). Another confirmation is the rooster drawing on the shard, found near the tomb of Tutankhamen, the burial of which dates back to 1338 BC. . This indicates the presence of chickens in Egypt in the period of the New Kingdom (1425-1123 BC) [14,17]. However, in the future, up to 650 BC. no graphic information on the presence of chickens in this area was found.

In the Mediterranean, they appeared around the VIII-VI centuries. BC, first in ancient Greece, then in Rome. This is evidenced by the images on ancient Greek coins and vases, produced in Halkida, Corinth and Laconia. In central Europe, north of the Alps, domestic chickens appear only at the beginning of our era. Mosaic image of a rooster, related to the 1st century. BC, was found on the territory of the Roman Empire [9,19].

As already mentioned, there are different points of view on the time and place of origin of domestic chickens. In many respects, the information of B. West and B.-S. Zhu who collected a huge amount of material (mostly osteological). They analyzed not only published works, but also travel diaries and journals of archaeologists and paleozoologists, which contained data on the early findings of domestic chickens. These generalizations showed that in China there are 18 locations with leftover bones of chickens (approximately 5935-1470 BC) and 71 locations in other countries (VI millennium BC - I century AD) .

In Europe, the ancient osteological material was found in the territories of modern Romania (6000–3000 BC) and Greece (4000–3000 BC), in Ukraine (in the vicinity of Kiev) (4000–2500). BC), in Asia - Iran (3900-3800 BC), Turkey (2600-2300 BC), Syria (2400-2200 BC). ), Israel (700 BC) in the Altai (500 BC), in Mohenjodaro, the authors date the finds from 2000 BC. .

In addition to bone residues, climatic data and vegetation cover features were involved in the analysis. Based on this information, scientists believe that Southeast Asia should be considered the center of origin (the time of domestication of chickens is approximately the eighth millennium BC).

In India, chickens could get from China or were domesticated independently and later than in Southeast Asia. So, according to the authors, the time of domestication of chickens is about 5 thousand years apart, the appearance of domestic chickens in Europe - 5-2 thousand years ago compared to the information above, and the place of domestication should be considered not the Indus Valley, but the South East Asia.

As for the spread of chickens in the world, they began to spread from Hamud in Southeast China about 7,000 years ago [8.45] through central Asia north of the Himalayas [26,28]. The borders of Europe chickens reached about 3000 years BC. . This suggests that the initial distribution of chickens from southeast Asia actually bypassed the Indian subcontinent. Chickens came to Africa either through the Nile Valley or through the Greco-Romanesque East Coast trade route during the period of 100–500, as evidenced by the findings of bones in Mali, Nubia, the East African Coast and southern Africa. However, their earlier appearance on this continent across the Sahara (via the Phoenician Carthage) is not excluded. Some researchers [20,22] believe that the chickens spread throughout the Sahara, through the Berbers, the East Coast, and possibly through the Red Sea coast to Ethiopia. Discussion is the presence of chickens in the New World [13,21]. Scientists are still arguing whether chickens were present on the West Coast, where they were allegedly brought from Asia.

Analyzing the history and ways of distribution of domestic chickens, R.D. Crawford concludes that their early appearance in Egypt and on the island of Crete was accidental (as, perhaps, in other parts of the world) and therefore, later did not lead there to the development of high culture of poultry farming and the creation of their types of chickens.

The study of Moiseeva I.G. , showed that among the chickens of Asian descent turned out to be much more morphological forms. Some breeds of ancient origin were similar in type and G.gallusand in Mediterranean breeds. Therefore, it should be assumed that in ancient times hens, similar in type to modern Mediterranean breeds, were exported from Asia to the Mediterranean.

However, the most unexplored is the domestication and distribution of chickens in six geographical areas: Thailand, Russia, Ukraine, the Indian subcontinent, South-West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa [22,23].

Taming Chickens All specialists involved in the history of the use of domestic chickens in human life [10,20,24], agree that at the dawn of domestication, chickens did not serve as a source of food. In Southeast Asia, chickens were used for divination and sacrifice. Then people paid attention to the aggressive behavior of birds, their tendency to constant fights among themselves. These properties corresponded to the inclinations of a man of the bronze age (the end of IV - the beginning of I millennium BC), since his life consisted of a constant struggle for existence, in which the strongest survive and win. That is why, since ancient times, fighting sport has spread in many regions - in India, the countries of Indochina, the Malay Archipelago, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, and later in Central Asia and South America.

For countries with different cultural traditions, their own breeding trends for fighting birds and forms of cock fighting are characteristic. In each country, even in each locality, its own fighting breed was created, hence the large variety of breeds in this direction. The ancient Greeks had cockfighting a favorite entertainment game, especially in Athens, where since the times of the Persian Wars (V in. BC), public battles were held in the theater of Dionysus. The rooster as a symbol of competition and victory was depicted on the shields of warriors, as well as on large goblets, which brought to the winners during the celebrations.

In Europe in the Middle Ages and later, the fighting breeds of chickens were famous for England (English fighting breeds of the old and new type), Belgium (Belgian fighting) and Russia (numerous varieties of Moscow fighting breed).

By the beginning of the XIX century. in the English Parliament there was a special place for the final competition of cock fighting. Probably, thus, the parliamentarians filmed their own aggression. An interesting possible version of the origin of the word "cocktail" ("cocktail"), which literally means "cock's tail." In England, it was the custom after the cockfights to drink a mixture of drinks consisting of as many ingredients as there were feathers in the tail of the winner.

People began to use domestic chickens in religious services and rites. In the literature of Iran (2000–700 BC) there are reports that the rooster at that time was considered the forerunner of dawn, with its cry he woke people and called for creative work.

In the works of ancient Roman writers - Virgil (70-19 BC), Pliny the Elder (23 or 24-79) it was reported that the rooster's cry contained all sorts of signs and predictions. Chickens and roosters were often sacrificed, and in some countries they were considered sacred birds and kept at temples.

Soothsayers of ancient Greece and Rome used roosters to predict fate and future events: letters of the alphabet were drawn on the ground, grain was placed on each. Then a rooster was let in and watched which letters he “pecks up”, and prophetic phrases were made up of them.

In ancient China, the rooster was associated with the solar symbol "yang", it was attributed to the ability of protection from robbers, to bring wealth, happiness and time to the house. This explains the important role of the rooster in Chinese symbolism and ornaments - traditional drawings on Chinese fabrics under the names "Screaming roosters", "curved rooster tails" and other chicken themes. The image of a rooster singing on a drum was considered a symbol of peace. In general, all cock symbolism in China had a benevolent content.

Naturally, the sacred bird should have attracted the looks of its appearance and have a beautiful voice. This gave rise to the decorative direction of the poultry industry and the sport of cock singing. Thus, numerous breeds of bentams appeared, many of which are surprisingly beautiful and resemble bright butterflies or a bouquet of variegated flowers (in Russia in the 18th century very beautiful Pavlovian chickens were created). Southwest Asia and Japan are famous for their long-tailed chickens (Phoenix, Sumatra, Yokohama, etc.), in which the length of the cock's tail can reach 10 m.

The sport of cock singing is still common in different parts of the world. In Japan, Greece, Albania, Belgium, there are several breeds of chickens that differ in singing. In Russia, Yurlov vocal chickens have long been bred, which are capable of holding a note for up to 25 seconds, and in Turkey a breed is bred, the roosters of which can last up to 30 seconds. In Germany, the rock mountain singer is known; it has a low, with special modulations, voice, and is capable of displaying a drawling and melancholic song. Obviously, in each of these countries independently, by appropriate selection, roosters were created.

The development of the poultry industry as a special field of agriculture and as a science, the utilitarian use of domestic chickens as a source of meat and eggs belongs to the heyday of Greco-Roman culture. Many Roman writers have left extensive works on the poultry industry, which indicates its high development at that time. In the works of Columella (12 volumes), a writer and agronomist of the 1st century, there are tips on incubation, methods of breeding, feeding, housing, fattening, culling, disease control, even tips on marketing and pricing. He mentions the existence in his country of four foreign species: fighting - Rhodian (the birthplace of Father Rhodes), the Median (Midia northwest of the Iranian highlands), an unknown specialization - the Tanagran (from Tanagry in Boeotia, Ancient Greece) and the Chalkan (with Chalkis, O. Evbeya).

Aristotle (384-322 BC) and Pliny also mention the local Adrian breed (from Adria near Venice), which is characterized by high egg production. According to Columella, the best chickens received from crossing foreign roosters with local chickens (the beginning of the creation of crosses - hybrids). The best hens at that time gave about 60 eggs per year, although Pliny noted that outstanding individuals rush every day [3].

Together with the collapse of the Roman Empire, the high culture of the poultry industry declined and began to revive only in the 19th century. The second half of the XIX century. in developed countries, characterized by a powerful explosion of the breeding of all farm animals, including chickens. Open societies and clubs lovers of poultry, exhibitions and competitions of productivity. The first exhibition of chicken breeds was held in Boston in 1849 [25,34], and already in 1855 in Moscow.

At present, about 1,500 breeds have been created in the world by mankind, and possibly more. The Stromberg Encyclopedia lists 142 breeds of chickens, 420 breeds are described in the book by Vandelt and Voltaire, the catalog of R.G. Soames has 604 breeds and varieties of chickens bred by breeders from 22 countries, but some modern researchers believe that this figure can be doubled.

The origin of egg poultry. For a long time, people did not eat poultry products. The main reason for this was the presence of chickens in many rituals. Chicken eggs were considered a “dirty product” and even a “taboo” product. In addition, it was considered wasteful to eat an egg without waiting for a chicken to emerge from it. In India, approximately in the I millennium BC. there was a law that forbids eating chicken meat. The exception was China, where they ate chicken meat and eggs, considering them to be an important source of animal protein. From China, the tradition of eating poultry products has spread throughout East Asia. In Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, where chickens came with Asian colonizers, it was a tradition to use “100-year-old” eggs. In fact, they were not so old. The eggs were stored for several months in a mixture of saltpeter, clay, and tea leaves. After the green vein appeared on the shell, the eggs were considered ready for use [33,38].

The use of chicken eggs in food becomes widespread after the release of the Apicius recipe book (25 BC), which contained recipes for custard creams, omelets and many other dishes [25,38].

Since then, few facts have been known about the use of eggs before the 16th century. During this period, eggs were considered lean food on a par with meat and were eaten only at Easter, pre-dipping in fat or wax and decorating. This tradition has been preserved to this day.

The revival of the use of eggs for food came only in the XVI century. with the work of Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605). The Italian wrote 9 volumes of animals, including chickens, in which he described the egg in detail and systematically.

The work of Le Cuisinier, published by Pierre-François de Waren in 1961, contributed to significant progress in cooking. In the book, the author described 60 recipes for egg dishes.

The next century was characterized by the selection of chickens for the color of feathering and crest. More than 100 breeds and color variations of chickens were created. “The Age of the Chicken” was also the century of the development of the traditions of the use of chicken eggs. During this period, the dietary properties of this product were discovered, which contributed to the beginning of the widespread use of eggs for food. Boiled eggs for breakfast became a favorite dish of the French, and the Parisians gathered weekly in the square to admire how Louis XIV knocks the top off the eggs with one stroke of a fork. In the middle of the XVIII century. Americans, taking the example of the British, began to widely use eggs with bacon. At this time, eggs begin to be used in the baking industry [7,39]. At the end of the XIX century. Eggs become a popular food in the West, and the emphasis in breeding moves from the decorative look of the “show-hens” to productive characteristics.

findings. Numerous scientific studies have established that the place of domestication of chickens is not the Indus Valley, as is commonly believed, but Southeast Asia. The time of domestication was also specified - 8000 BC. However, most of the conclusions made by scientists are based on archaeological and linguistic studies that require confirmation on the basis of modern genetic examinations.

There are a number of geographical areas of the world, including Ukraine, in which the domestication and distribution of chickens remain obscure. Therefore, further study requires the history of the domestication of chickens in selected countries of the world.

The origin of egg-growing, as a specialized poultry industry, occurred in China. However, the history of its development remains unknown until the XVI century.

Bibliographic list

  1. Darwin C. The change of domestic animals and cultivated plants / Charles Darwin [ed. E.N.Pavlovsky]. - M., L, 1951. - 245 p.
  2. Lubo-Lesnichenko E.I. China on the silk road / E.I. Lubo-Lesnichenko. - M, 1994.– 98 p.
  3. Moiseeva I.G. The origin and evolution of domestic chickens / IG Moiseeva, M.G. Lisichkina // Nature. - 1996. - Vol.5. - P.88-96.
  4. Nikitin N. Exhibitions of poultry farming in pre-revolutionary Russia / N. Nikitin // Poultry farming. - 1992.– №5. - p.23-27.
  5. Petrov S.G. The origin and evolution of poultry / S.G. Petrov // Poultry. - 1962. - Vol.1. - p. 125-144.
  6. Serebrovsky A.S. The origin of pets / A.S. Serebrovsky. - L, 1934. - 213 p.
  7. Astill G. Astill, A. Grant. - Oxford, 1988. - 314 p.
  8. Bellwood P. Austronesian Prehistory in Southeast Asia: Homeland, expansion and transformation / P. Bellwood, J. Fox, D.Tryon // The Austronesians: Historical and comparative perspectives. - 1995. - P. 96–111.
  9. Benecke, N.C. on the Middle Ages / N. Benecke. - Poultry Sci. - 1993. - Vol. 73. - № 5. - P. 1838-1845.
  10. Blench R. M. A northeastern Nigeria / R. M. Blench // Cahiers des Sciences Humaines. - Vol. 3. - P. 181–238.
  11. Brewer D. J. Domestic plants and animals: The Egyptian origins / D. J. Brewer, D. B. Redford, S. Redford. - Warminster, 1994. - 289 p.
  12. Buitenhuis H. The animal remains from Tell Sweyhat / H. Buitenhuis // Palaeohistoria. - 1983. - Vol. 25. - p. 131–44.
  13. Carter G. F. Pre-Columbian chickens in America / G. F. Carter, C. L. Riley, J. C. Kelley, C. W. Pennington, R. L. Rands // Man across the sea: Problems of pre-Columbian contacts. - 1971. - P. 178–218.
  14. Carter H. An ostracon depicting a red jungle-fowl / H. Carter // Journal of Egyptian Archeology. - 1923. - Vol. 9. - P. 1-4.
  15. Coltherd J. B. The domestic fowl in ancient Egypt / J. B. Coltherd // Ibis. - 1966. - Vol. 108. –P. 217–23.
  16. Crawford R.D. Domestic fowl. Evolution of domesticated animals / R.D. Crawford. - London, New York, 1984. - P.298–311.
  17. Darby W., The gift of Osiris / W. Darby, P. Ghalioungui, L. Grivetti. - London, 1977. - 425 p.
  18. Fumihito A. One subspecies of the red junglefowl (Gallus gallus gallus) / A. Fumihito, T. Miyake, S.-I. Sumi // Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. - 1994. - Vol. 91. - p. 9–125.
  19. Hernandez-Carrasquilla F. Iberia / F. Hernandez-Carrasquilla // Archaeofauna. - 1992. - Vol. 1. - P. 45–53.
  20. Kuit H. G. Livestock production in central Mali: Ownership, management and productivity of the population / H. G. Kuit, A. Traore, R. T. Wilson // Tropical Animal Health and Production. - 1986. - Vol. 18. –P. 31–222.
  21. Langdon R. When the blue-egg chickens come home to roost / R. Langdon // Journal of Pacific History. - 1990. - Vol. 25. - P. 92–164.
  22. Macdonald K.C. The domestic chicken (Gallus gallus) in the sub-Saharan Africa / C. C. MacDonald // Journal of Archaeological Science. –1992. - Vol. 19. - P. 18–303.
  23. MacDonald K. C. Chickens in Africa: The importance of Qasr Ibrim / K. C. MacDonald, D. N. Edwards // Antiquity. 1993. - Vol. 67. - P. 90–584.
  24. Manessy G. Les noms d’animaux domestiques dans les langues voltaïques / G. Manessy, J. M. C. Thomas, L. Bernot // Langues et al., Nature et société, approches linguistiques. - 1972. - Vol. 1. - P. 20–301.
  25. McGee H. On food and cooking / H. McGee. - New York, 1984. - 269 p.
  26. Moiseeva I. G., Comparative Analysis of the Morphological Traits in the Mediterranean and Chinese Chicken Breeds: I. Moiseeva, Z. Yuguo, A. A. Nikiforov, I. A. Zakharov // Russian Journal of Genetics. –1996. - Vol. 32. - R.57–1349.
  27. Mudida N. 1996. Subsistence at Shanga: The faunal record. In Shanga / N. Mudida, M. Horton / / The Archaeological Development of the Muslim Trading Community on the Coast of East Africa. - 1996. - P. 93–378.
  28. Nishi Y. Can you fly miles over the Himalayas? / Y. Nishi, T. Sakiyama, A. Sato // Asian languages ​​and general linguistics. –1990. P. 55–77.
  29. Plug I. 1996. Domestic animals in Africa. I. Plug, G. Pwiti, R. Soper // In 10th Congress of the Prehistory and Related Studies. - 1996. - R.20– 515.
  30. Somes R.G. International registry of poultry genetic stocks / R.G. Somes - Exp.Stat.Bull.Conn., 1985. - 469р.
  31. Stromberg L. Poultry Odities, History, Folklore / L. Stromberg. - Pine River, Minnesota, USA, 1992. - 356 p.
  32. Stromberg L. Poultry of the World / L. Stromberg. - 1996. - 516 p.
  33. Simoons F. J. Eat not this flesh. Second edition / F. J. Simoons. - Madison, 1994. - 289 p.
  34. Smith P. The chicken book / P. Smith, D. Charles. - San Francisco, 1982. - 458r.
  35. Tannahill R. Food in history / R. Tannahill. - New York, 1989. - 562r.
  36. Taran M. Early record of domestic fowl in Judea / M. Taran // Ibis. - 1975. - Vol. 117. - R.10-109.
  37. Thesing, R. Die Groβentwicklung des Haushuhns in vor- und frühgeschichtlicher Zeit. Ph.D. dissertation, Munich University, 1977. - 148r.
  38. Toussaint-Samat M. A history of food, trans. Anthea Bell / M. Toussaint-Samat. - Cambridge, Mass. 1992. - 789 p.
  39. Trager J. The food chronology / J. Trager.– New York, 1995. - 854 p.
  40. Wandelt R. Handbuch der Nuhnerrassen die Huhnerrassen der Welt / R. Wandelt, J. Wolters // Verlag Wolters, 1996. - 258 p.
  41. West B. Did chickens go north? New evidence for domestication / B. West, B.-X. Zhou // Journal of Archaeological Science. - 1988. - Vol. 15. - P.33-515.
  42. West B. Did chicken go north? New evidence for domestication / B. West, B.-X. Zhou // World’s poultry Science Journal. - 1989. - Vol. 45. - P.205-218.
  43. D.G.M. Wood-Gush // Poultry Science. - 1959. - Vol. 38. –P. 321–326.
  44. Zeuner F.E.A. history of domesticated animals / F. E. Zeuner. - London, 1963. - 421r.
  45. Zorc R.D.P. R. D. P. Zorc, A. K. Pawley, M. D. Ross // Austronesian terminologies: Continuity and change. - 1994. - R.95–541.


Male chickens are called roosters, and chicks are called chickens.

The weight of this type of poultry is variable and depends on the characteristics of the constitution and breed indicators. Its boundaries are from 1.5 to 5 kg. At the same time, pronounced sexual dimorphism is manifested in the fact that roosters are heavier than chickens. Sometimes the difference in weight is very significant and reaches 1 kg, or even more.

There are also dwarf hens - adult individuals of such species are not heavier than a kilogram. Low weight is usually inherent in decorative rocks, impressive to them to anything. These are, for example, bentams, otherwise called chickens-kings. The weight of the male individual of this breed does not exceed 900 g, and the females - and even less (from 450 to 600 g).

The overall color of the hens is very diverse. Males differ from females in more vivid plumage. This is especially noticeable in the caudal and cervical parts of the body. The tail is longer and more magnificent.

Both roosters and hens have clearly visible beards and scallops. Combs can vary in shape - a pod, a rose, a wood leaf with teeth, etc. Cockscomb is larger than chicken, but in any case this organ is not decorative, it plays the role of a temperature regulator in the body of the bird. On the metatarsus, the middle part of the foot, cocks have bone formations called spurs. Slightly curved beak and legs of the same color, depending on the breed. They can be yellow, pinkish, black, other colors.

Why do you need to know how and where the chickens came from?

According to expert forecasts, by the 20s of the 21st century, chicken meat will take a leading position in global meat consumption. The facts accumulated by the poultry farmers do not seem to be quite sufficient, and they expect that even deeper knowledge of the genetics of wild chickens will help improve the pedigree data, develop resistance in birds to various diseases, in particular, to avian influenza.

So, is there a short answer to the question “where did the chickens come from?” So far this is ambiguous. Meanwhile, chicken origin every year becomes more and more important. For example, the yellow color of the skin of hens makes it possible, on the basis of genetic studies, to suggest that it was not only the Red Bankans who were domesticated. It is very possible that among the ancestors of modern cockerels there are also genes of the gray jungle hen. According to modern versions, the hybrid domesticated bird has already left the borders of Southeast Asia. As a result, she became an ordinary homemade chicken.

When did chickens become domestic?

According to Darwin, the first chickens appeared in India around the II century BC. However, modern archaeological finds and genetic studies indicate an earlier date for the emergence of domestic chicken - namely, almost the VII-VIII century BC, and not in India, but in Southeast Asia and in China.

Known images of chickens in the tomb of Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt Tutankhamen, and this is about 1350 BC. There were chickens in ancient Greece. In Judea in the Gospel era, it was considered a well-known poultry.

How exactly the chicken was domesticated is also not completely clear. Probably, a bankiv hen appeared at the household farms at about the same time, but in different countries. This option seems most likely to researchers. However, the most ancient fossil remains of this poultry are more than 8 thousand years old, and they are found in China.

Where did the chicken come from in Russia? We have chickens bred for a long time. They came to us, most likely from foreign traders and came to court mainly because of the low demands on the conditions of detention. Were appreciated because of the eggs. They were considered good food in the winter and were expensive. But the meat began to be appreciated and acquired economic importance only by the beginning of the XX century.

Breeds of chickens

Chickens are bred and raised for eggs, meat, fluff and feathers. Hence, breeds of poultry bred over many centuries, different in product groups: egg (Spanish, leggorn, minor, etc.) and meat and egg (universal) breeds, broiler hens. Among farmers, decorative ones are also popular today - for example, bantamka, Chinese silk, araukana, etc. They are not only a decoration of the household, but also delight the owners with high productivity indicators. Often there is a combination of meat performance and special constitutional indicators among representatives of fighting chicken breeds (kulangi, Indian fighting, chamo, etc.). But breeding them can be difficult due to the fact that they do not tolerate cold and have an aggressive and cocky disposition.

At present, the industrial poultry industry has acquired such a large scale that many breeds have long lost their originality, and amateurs, or even the breeders themselves, refer them to one breed direction, then another. For example, leggorny, which are considered egg-laying, gained the greatest popularity by the middle of the 20th century, and appeared by crossing fighting breed birds, Spanish ornamental chickens, and egg-laying minorok.

Trail in culture

In many cultures, in particular in Slavic, the image of a rooster was considered as a magical fiery symbol. It was believed that with its “crowed bird” it turned directly to the Sun. Images and figures of this bird appeared on textiles (tablecloths, towels), on rooftops, on shutters. These birds were told in fairy tales, tales, songs, proverbs and sayings. They often appeared in literary works.

Focusing on the third cry of the rooster (this is about the fifth hour of the morning), the peasants went to work, and went to rest, as they said, “with chickens”.

The rooster is considered the national bird of France and Kenya. Individual breed hens are revered in two US states, as well as Switzerland.

According to the information of the doctor of biological sciences, the Soviet and Russian ornithologist A. D. Numerov, images of chicken are present on the coins of many countries of the world. 16 different chicken "portraits" - is the absolute leadership among the birds depicted on the money metal signs, not only mass, but also memorable, dedicated to any events and dates.

We hope that in this article the answers to the question "where the hens came from" the answers were quite convincing.

Cock. (Bas-relief from the tomb of Tutankhamen)

The most developed ancient cultures were Mesopotamia, Egypt, and later - Crete and Greece. But the "traces" of chickens here are found much later than in India. Thus, in ancient Egypt, images of chickens appeared no earlier than the middle of the second millennium BC. In the tomb of Tutankhamen (circa 1350 BC) a rooster drawing was found on a stone slab. Around the same time, chickens appeared in Syria, where they came from Mesopotamia. According to some reports, chickens entered the Middle East a bit earlier than in Egypt. An ancient image of a rooster found on one of the Babylonian monuments. However, it cannot be said that the hens at that time were of great economic importance, since depicted mainly fighting cocks. It is known that in 310 BC Prince of Punjabi (North-West India) paid Alexander the Great with silver coins, which showed a rooster with large spurs. However, in Egypt, the breeding of chickens was so developed that their eggs were incubated. This was the monopoly of the priests of the temples of Osiris. Later, incubation was forgotten, and under feudalism it was considered the work of the devil.

Rooster - attribute of Mercury (Hermes)

In Greece, chickens appeared only at the turn of II and I millennia BC. e. However, V and VI. BC. have become a time of mass distribution of chickens in Greece. This is evidenced by the writers of that period Theognis and Aristophanes. According to the testimony of the latter, in Athens every resident had chickens, even if only one bird, if it was a poor man. Cocks were grown for cockfights, which were very popular at the time. The first targeted attempts at artificial selection among poultry were associated specifically with cockfighting. Birds were selected for strength, lightness and aggressiveness. So gradually formed special fighting breeds that have survived to our days.
In the national epic of the countries of Central Asia (Bactria, Sogdiana, Margiana, Khorezm) chickens are mentioned in the VI and III centuries. BC. But then they are not yet described as an object of management - we are talking about the rooster as a divine being. In the religion of Zarathustra and other beliefs, the cock played an important role - as a defender of good and the enemy of the devil, as a symbol of the sun, opposing the destructive forces of the wind. The rooster's morning cry symbolized not only the beginning of the day, but also the light, a good beginning in general.
Among the items that were supposed to accompany people to the other world were chickens - their skeletons were found in the graves.
In Western Europe, chickens were in the VI. BC. through Italy and the Greek colonies (Massali, Marseille, etc.). In Sicily, already in the V century. BC. there were coins depicting hens.

Old Russian bird amulets (XI – XII century)

Through the Greek Black Sea colonies of chickens in the 5th – 4th centuries. BC. got into the territory of ancient Russia. From the middle of I millennium BC Chickens spread throughout Europe - wherever people engaged in farming.

Indian, or crested peacock (Pavo cristatus) is found in India (southern part) and Burma. Wild peacocks live in flocks of 30-40 individuals in tall grass thickets, but they also appear in open places. Fly hard, but run fast. Males in the mating dress are unusually beautiful. Peacocks are easily tamed. Domestic peacocks have a lighter than wild color, up to the appearance of completely white individuals.

Peacock. (Relief on a column. North Africa)

The fact that the peacocks bred in the ancient world, testifies the Bible. With navigators, perhaps the Phoenicians or the Greeks, still in the V in. BC. Peacocks came to Greece, where they became an object of worship. Peacocks were considered sacred animals, symbols of the firmament due to bright spots, “eyes” on the tail. Naturally, these birds were available only to very rich people.
The Romans dedicated peacocks to the goddess Juno. However, this did not prevent them from eating peacocks for food, although their meat is tough and completely tasteless. But on the tables of the nobility, peacock feathers were more important as decoration than meat as a dish.
From Rome, through the Alps, peacocks fell into Western Europe. During the excavations of the Roman-Helvetic colony of Windoniss, they found clay lamps with peacocks painted on them.
In the Middle Ages, turkeys, whose meat is much more tasty, almost completely ousted peacocks from bird houses.

Guinea Fowl (Numida meleagris) come from Africa. Like chickens, peacocks and turkeys, they belong to the order of chickens, the family of pheasants. Wild and domestic guinea fowls are very similar. Their bodies are heavy, dense, the plumage is gray with white specks (as if with “pearls”), the tail is short, there is a red leathery education on the head — a “helmet”; fleshy red-and-white earrings hang down the sides of the head.

Wild turkey

In general, turkeys resemble large chickens. Weight of males - up to 10, and females - up to 4 kg. Normal color - dark brown with gray pestrinami. But among wild turkeys there are also those whose colors are dominated by orange-brown and orange-red tones with black and bluish stripes. These birds feed on fruits, seeds, plant shoots and insects. They live in forests and bushes, run fast and fly well. Дикие индейки еще водятся в лесах штатов Огайо, Кентукки, Тенесси, Иллинойс, Арканзас, Виржиния, Пенсильвания, Алабама.
Видовое научное название индейки состоит из двух слов: gallus – курица и pavo – павлин. Когда индюк раскрывает хвост и изгибает шею, он становится немного похож павлина. Одомашнил индеек народ майя в Мексике. Когда европейцы открыли Америку, то в Мексике и Центральной Америке, не считая собак, индюк был единственным домашним животным.
В Европу индейки были завезены около 1530 г., а в 1571 г. на Нижнем Рейне их уже разводили в больших количествах. Есть упоминание, что в немецком городе Арнштадте в 1560 г. во время свадебного застолья было съедено 150 индюков. А в качестве рождественской птицы индюк появился на столах англичан впервые в 1585 г. Позднее эти птицы попали в Россию, Персию, Индию.
В настоящее время выведено несколько пород индеек. Есть, например, «бронзовая широкогрудая» – самцы этой породы достигают веса в 16 кг.

Дикие гуси легко приручаются, если взяты в птенцовом возрасте. В течение одного-двух поколений эти птицы привыкают к человеку и успешно размножаются в неволе. Удобно и то, что у гусей хороший аппетит, они много едят и их легко откормить, а заодно и отучить от длинных перелетов. Многие источники утверждают, что именно гуси являются первыми домашними птицами.
Доместикация гусей проходила многократно и в разных районах. Прародителями домашних гусей были, в основном, три вида. В Европе и в различных районах Азии, кроме восточных, был одомашнен серый гусь (Anser anser). У него серое узорчатое оперение и красный клюв. Этот вид распространен по всей Европе. В Китае и на Дальнем Востоке был доместицирован обитающий там гусь-сухонос (Anser cygnoides).This is a larger goose with a black beak. Modern domestic geese are very similar to their wild progenitor.
It is assumed that in ancient Egypt was tamed wild nile goose (Chenalopex agypticus), however, his domesticated descendants were not preserved. This species of geese lives almost everywhere in Africa, except its western part. The Nile goose is a bit smaller than other progenitors of domestic species. He has a beautiful red-brown plumage with yellow shades.
In ancient Egypt, well-known domestic, or rather half-domestic, geese. In Egyptian tombs, built more than 4 thousand years ago, there are many drawings of geese: scenes of their fattening, roasting on a spit, images of peasants, carrying geese to the market.
The geese are mentioned in the Odyssey - Penelope had 12 geese and she loved to watch them devour the soaked grain.
In Greece, Small and Central Asia geese were sacred birds, they were also considered a symbol of abundance. During the excavations of the ancient city of Penjikent on the territory of modern Tajikistan, an image of a young man holding a domestic goose for sacrifice was discovered.
In Mesopotamia, geese were kept in flocks, revered as sacred birds, but also used as food. Images of geese are found on seals and other items. An interesting statuette from Ur, (3rd millennium BC) depicting the goddess Ban, sitting on the backs of two geese, and the other two geese serve as her footstool. There are also clay reliefs and cylindrical seals showing geese in the form of a goddess. Until now it was believed that ducks were used in the scales, but they recently found out that in fact in antiquity they were images of geese. Such scales in the form of geese have been preserved in some countries to the present.
Indians believed that geese gave advice to Brahma himself. The Romans revered geese for the fact that these birds saved Rome in 390 by waking the city residents with their gaggle. Geese were kept in the temple of Juno on Capitol Hill.
In general, the Romans undoubtedly understood a lot about geese. They ate goose meat and really appreciated goose eggs. However, it was believed that hard boiled, they become inedible. Goose liver was a great delicacy, and the Romans knew how to increase it, feeding the birds a mixture of flour, milk and honey. Down feathers were used for cushions and draperies, geese plucked twice a year. The use of goose feathers for writing was first mentioned by a certain Valesius in the 5th century AD. e. Goose baked fat was used in medicine as a remedy for skin diseases, it was taken orally against colic. And more fat was used as various lubricants.
In ancient German mythology, the goose was also considered a sacred animal. It seems that the geese were bred in large quantities both in Gaul and in Ancient Germany. During the time of Pliny, magnificent geese were imported from Gallic Belgium and from Germany. For sale in Italy through the Alps they were driven on foot - it was considered advantageous, as there was no suitable transport for transporting geese, especially through the mountains. You can imagine how much fat the birds lost on the road!
In the Middle Ages and later, domestic geese were already widespread throughout Eurasia. The Frankish King Charlemagne (742-814) issued a decree imposing the obligation on his subjects to keep the geese in the household. The peasants had to annually on the day of St. Martin (November 10) deliver a certain number of fattened birds to monasteries and shelters. In some European countries, mainly German-speaking, the phrase “Martynov Gus” has been preserved.
At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, with the development of intensive farming, the marshes dried up, natural meadows were destroyed, and with them the pastures for geese disappeared. In Western Europe, the geese has suffered greatly. But in Eastern European countries, especially in Russia, geese continued to be kept in significant quantities.
But to breed geese in Russia began a little later than in other European countries. This branch reached its greatest development in the period between the XVII and XIX centuries. Then the country exported abroad a lot of fluff, feathers and goose meat. Mass deliveries of geese abroad were made in the same way as in ancient Germany: geese were driven on foot. This was considered advantageous for long distances and no convenient communication. Live birds were distilled for sale from Russia to Germany and Austria-Hungary. But the geese before the long journey "shod." It was done this way: on a flat place, melted liquid resin was poured, and sand was poured in a thin layer next to it. The flock of geese was first distilled through the resin, and immediately after that - in the sand. Now geese could walk dozens of miles without damaging their paws.
In North America in the XVIII and XIX centuries, geese were bred from European and Asian breeds. The local Canadian goose tamed here is not widespread.

The spread of chickens in antiquity

In the XIV century BC. e. Chickens were in ancient Egypt. A bit earlier they appeared in the Middle East. In Greece, they came with the beginning of the ancient era, and from there spread throughout Europe. In Athens, Diogenes of Sinop plucked a hen in response to Plato's assertion that man is bipedal without feathers.

Gospel Mention of the breeding of chickens in Judea during the time of Pontius Pilate (Jesus Christ foretold Peter that he would deny three times before the rooster crows - Matt. 26:34). The Illustrated Complete Popular Biblical Encyclopedia (1891) provided the following information on this subject:

Chicken, rooster - domestic, well-known bird. During the earthly life of the Lord Jesus Christ, chickens constituted a fairly common domestic bird in Judea, as partly seen from the Gospel. Hence, the egg in the New Testament is found as an ordinary food (Luke 11:12). All the evangelists testify about the rooster's singing during the apostle Peter's abdication from the Lord (Matthew 26:34, 75, Mark 14:30, 68, 72, Luke 22:34, John 13:38). Determining the night time from the singing of roosters was a matter of common knowledge (Mark 13:35). The Savior himself points out the distinctive features of the hen-hen as a gentle and protective mother to her chicks in the following touching words addressed to Jerusalem: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem ... how many times did I want to collect your children, like a bird (kokosh) collects chicks its under the wings, and you did not want "(Matt. 23-37).

In the world there are many breeds of chickens, different in appearance, color, breeding characteristics and direction of use. Different breeds of eggs have a different color, for example: white, brown, green, blue, red. Currently, about 180 breeds of chickens are listed in the European standard for poultry farming. However, in general, there are many more on Earth.

From the economic point of view and by the nature of the main products of the breed can be divided into three main groups:

  • on chickens characterized by egg production (egg breeds),
  • on common use (meat and egg breeds) and mainly meat hens (meat breeds, including broiler chickens).

Breeds of these areas have constitutional and exterior features. Egg chickens are small in size, grow rapidly, mature early. Chickens meat and egg breeds are larger, with well-developed muscles, less quickened. In addition, previously distinguished breed, remarkable for their endurance, ability to hatching and with great height and weight.

To the well-known egg breeds belong:

  • Spanish (eng. Spanish)
  • Italian (italiener), or leggorn (eng. Leghorn)
  • Hamburg (Hamburg, or Hamburgh)
  • Red Cap
  • Andalusian (Andalusian)
  • Minorca (Minorca)

By the time of the organization of large poultry farms (1920s - 1930s), the breeds of birds began to be classified according to one principle or another, for example, M.F. Ivanov proposed a classification of the main species of birds, taking into account the geographical feature.

Most of the previous breeds of chickens, except leggorn, have lost their importance in the conditions of modern large-scale egg production. In small private farms, these and some other of the non-settling rocks require a large space for walking and good heated premises in the winter. Many of them rush in a year for 10 months. The annual number of eggs laid by them reaches up to 250 and more, the main number of eggs laid falls in spring and summer.

In the industrial poultry industry, including the meat industry and the production of eggs, hybrid breeds and cross-country chickens are used. At the same time, the main tasks of breeding with chickens are the breeding of specialized egg and meat lines, testing them for compatibility and crossing to produce hybrid layers and broilers.

Content and behavior

Most chickens are content with little room for rooming and walking. Not being very sensitive to adverse weather conditions, they mostly winter well in simple barns and stables. In the conditions of industrial poultry farming, chickens are kept in poultry houses (on the floor or in cages).

Among chickens, cases of cannibalism are possible if a curious bird begins to peck at the protracted wound of another individual, as well as under stress due to overcrowding in chicken coops and a lack of protein, methionine, and certain trace elements (especially sulfur) in the diet. In industrial production, in order to prevent such incidents (cannibalism, pecking) and to increase feed intake, the method of cutting the beak (upper and lower half) is used. This process (debicking) is painful for chickens, since their beak is penetrated by fine nerve endings.

Homemade chicken has a dozen beeps. The alarm clearly distinguishes between air and ground enemy. The alarm from the first one is a long drawn-out shout, and the alarm from the second is a fractional shout.

A chick, being in an egg, begins a sound communication with the hen, several days before hatching, using about a dozen signals, for example:

  • The “let me go” signal is a harsh sound, resembling the squeak of a newly hatched chicken, if it is picked up.
  • The pleasure signal is a high chirping sound with which a chick from an egg reacts to the soothing quacking of a chicken or to its signal in connection with the appearance of food.
  • The signal of nesting is a searching and alarming sound made from an egg, expressing the desire of the nestling to nest under the wing of the mother. The hen responds to it with a whimper or movement, which calms him down.
  • The alarm is a high squeak, the answer of the egg to the alarming warning signal of the chicken about the appearance of enemies.

A hen can diligently incubate duck or goose eggs.

Nutrition and feeding

It agrees with the device of a chicken stomach, the food used by hens has to differ in the small volume and intensity. Chickens are omnivores: they feed on small seeds, herbs and leaves, worms, insects, and even small vertebrates.

In households, the main fodder for chickens are different types of cereals, of which oats, barley, buckwheat and millet are most common. They can feed chickens for a whole year without harm to their health and productivity. Often chickens dig the ground in search of large insects, larvae and seeds. The increase in grain feed in a small amount of greenery and animal food (in the past, for example, horse meat, dried May beetles), when birds do not walk and cannot find worms and peck at the grass independently, it is useful: it increases egg production. Exceptionally grass food (at the beginning of summer, when the seeds did not ripen yet) or food with a large addition of meat (which some chicken feeds give) weakens the body, and eggs from such hens are not suitable for hatching. In any feed, the hens must be given sand and small pebbles, mainly calcareous. They probably make the contents of the stomach porous and thus facilitate digestion, partly dissolve and go to the construction of the shell and skeleton. In pre-revolutionary Russia (until 1917), artificial cakes of various flours mixed with milk mixed with fat were recommended for feeding chickens, but they were not included in the consumption (expensive).

Chickens of large breeds require feed less than medium and small. A permanent norm cannot be established (in the winter more than in summer in freedom), they consider an average of about 85 g of grain per head to be sufficient. In winter, food is given twice: in the morning and in the evening, in the summer once. Frequent feeding, due to the large variety of feeds, makes chickens whimsical, demanding and dispose of them to obesity.

In industrial environments, chickens usually feed on specialized foods, to which proteins and grains are added. The ration includes 2–3 grains of grain — maize, barley, and others (65–70% by weight of all dry feed), oil cakes (8–12%), and dry animal feed — fish and meat and bone meal (3-5%). ), dry yeast (1-3%), roots, grass meal, mineral feed and vitamins. In countries with developed poultry farming for chickens of different ages, the feed mill industry produces ready-made complete feed.


In the past, when keeping chickens of heavy breeds (brahma, kohinquin) a rooster was considered sufficient from 15 to 20 chickens, for chickens of lighter breeds and lively temperament - from 30 to 50, and sometimes up to 100. The best age for mating was 1 year. The laying of eggs began in January, in March, with the onset of warm days, it intensified and became more regular, reached its highest intensity in April, May and June, ended with the onset of molting. After the demolition of 20 to 50 eggs, chickens began brooding. From 10 to 15 eggs were laid in the nest, depending on the size of the hen. The incubation lasted three weeks. When breeding chickens from non-sagas breeds, as well as in large farms where many chickens were hatched, the hens were successfully replaced with incubators.

Currently, the sex ratio in the breeding herd is one rooster for 8-12 hens. Sexual ripening chickens (age at the time of the first egg) - 5-6 months. The molting of good hens lasts 2–3 weeks, and the bad ones last two months or more. After molting, egg-laying resumes under good feeding and maintenance conditions. Chickens can carry eggs for about 10 years. In industrial farms, it is economically advantageous to use chickens only during the first year of laying, as egg production decreases with age by 10–15% per year, in breeding farms - by 2–3 years, and only highly productive birds are left for 2–3 years. Breeding herd usually consists of 55-60% of pullets, 30-35% of two-year-olds and 10% of three-year-olds. Roosters use up to two years, the most valuable - up to three years.

To get eggs eggs, chickens can be kept without cocks. As a result of long-term breeding, the incubation instinct in most chickens of cultural breeds is poorly developed. Incubation of eggs and hatching are carried out in incubators. The period of embryonic development of a chicken is on average 21 days. When incubating all suitable for hatching eggs from each chicken, you can get a few dozen chickens.


In households, hatched chickens are left with the uterus in a warm room, after a week, if the weather is warm, they are transferred to the yard. Chickens everywhere are fed with various and most nutritious food: steeply boiled and chopped eggs, millet, buckwheat, rice porridge, etc. The whole period of growth of chickens until it is fully formed is divided into two phases: 1) from hatching to 3 months and 2) from 3 months to 6 months of age. In the first phase, the primary one prevails, and in the last - the secondary plumage. In accordance with these phases of development, the food also changes. Growing chickens, as their body grows and develops and instead of fluff, their body is covered with feathers, and the cartilage is converted into bones (1st phase), gradually need to reduce the cottage soft food and replace it with dry or steamed grain with the addition of bone meal. Then, when the primary plumage is replaced by the secondary one (2nd phase), they are transferred to coarse, unshewed grain.

By the age of six months, the average (in size and precociousness) chicken has a fully developed skeleton and plumage and is considered to be a fully formed individual. With the onset of autumn proceed to rejection. Some of the best (in size, health, development) are left to the tribe, the rest are meant for slaughter or for fattening beforehand. In the past, in some countries, mainly in England and America, cockerels assigned to fattening were neutered.

In former times, for feeding they used all the same varieties of grain feed, which were given to chickens even in ordinary time, but mostly in the form of flour mixed in more or less liquid dough. Milk and fat played a big role in fattening, the first gave the meat tenderness and whiteness, the second contributed to more rapid obesity. In the summer of chickens fattened two weeks. Skinny chickens were first dressed on dry food, then planted in feedboxes where chickens were not moving, and therefore their feeding went faster. At first, the chickens eagerly attacked the soft food, but as they became obese, they had to resort to either appetizing stimulating various spices, or to force-feeding with liquid food poured into the goiter before filling it, or pushing the stems from the hard dough. Fat chickens reached a weight of up to 3.6 kg.

Economic value

Куры являются самой распространённой домашней птицей в мире: в 2003 году их популяция составила 24 млрд особей. Куроводство играет значительную роль не только в сфере птицеводства, но и вообще сельского хозяйства, доставляя питательные и недорогие пищевые продукты (мясо и яйца), а также пух, перья и ценное удобрение (помёт). Для производства яиц и мяса кур на промышленной основе созданы крупные птицефабрики и специализированные птицеводческие хозяйства.

Крупнейшими экспортерами курятины являются США (3,026 млн т) и Бразилия (3,00 млн т).

Крупнейшие импортеры: Россия — 1,22 млн т, Китай — 0,87 млн т , Саудовская Аравия ?0,43 млн т , Мексика — 0,37 млн т , Япония 0,35 млн т.

The history of farming in Russia

In pre-revolutionary Russia, in Moscow and St. Petersburg, where winter freshly laid eggs were best paid, egg breeds were bred a little: the most useful were chickens, which carried well only in winter and were able to tolerate content in cramped rooms (Plymouth, Langshan, Viandot, Brahma, Cochinquin). At the end of winter, they were sold either for meat or as hens, the price of which in March and April reached 5 rubles. The trade in eggs and the breeding of chickens to produce eggs in Russia developed every year.

If for the production of eggs, chickens of various structures and properties were suitable (for example, light, slender Hamburg, on the one hand, and heavy, clumsy brahma and Cochin, on the other), then chickens of a certain body structure and a certain temperament were suitable for meat production. For this purpose, they used meat, or canteens, hens, the main feature of which, distinguishing them from other breeds, is a special device of the sternum, thanks to which the breast was wide, full and outstanding forward. On such a chest, more meat was added (which was valued especially in the table hens) than on the breast of other breeds. Three known breeds were attributed to the table hens: Dorking, Gudan, and Krecker, in addition, flash and fighting. The latter two, however, lacked ripeness. Chickens of meat breeds already at 4 months of age reached 2.7 kg of weight, were quite suitable for feeding and were sold at high prices.

Near the city of Rostov in the Yaroslavl province every year from September to February peasants fed up to 100 thousand roosters and chickens. On average, from one chicken per year they received: 12–20 chickens, 60–80 (from simple under primitive conditions of keeping) to 200 (from cultured) eggs, 0.3 kg of three varieties of feathers and up to 6.3 kg of litter.

Meat breeds were considered tender, it was difficult to tolerate adverse climatic conditions, especially many chickens died. Therefore, they required diligent care and good nutritious food. These drawbacks were avoided by crossing table hens with other more hardy breeds, which included Plymouth, Orpington, Wyandot, Langshan. These breeds differed in overall performance, were tall, strong, well-born, could be fattened in cramped spaces, hatching themselves and hatching chickens. These properties explained their wide distribution among the owners of lovers. As the best hens were known Brahma and Cochin, as large - Brahma, Cochin, Langshan, Dorking and Flash.

In Tsarist Russia, the main mass of chickens was kept by peasants. These chickens were mongrel and kept in the most primitive manner. For the whole summer, they foraged, collecting worms, weed seeds, and only in the fall received grain in sufficient quantity. In winter, they were content with weed kernels, bran, and often chaff with chaff. Russian chickens had a very small height and weight: females - 1.4 kg, roosters - 2 kg. They could not be considered table food, especially since they had hard and dry meat due to poor content and care. Their egg production was also small: they began to be born late and gave no more than 70 eggs a year. They were not suitable for feeding because of their wildness, small size and bad meat. The improved Russian chicken, bred by careful rejection, weighed already 2.3 kg and sped better, and also gave good hybrids when crossed with cultural breeds of the Hamburg and warrior type, Dominic and Malay.

Chickens as an element of culture

Domestic chickens and roosters are a significant element of Russian culture and are used in folklore, folk tales and literary works, including the main characters (“Hen Ryaba”, “The Cockerel - Golden Scallop”, “Kochetok and Kurochka”, “The Tale of the golden cockerel ”by A.S. Pushkin and others), in proverbs and sayings (“ They count the chickens until the autumn ”,“ The chickens (eggs) are not taught the chicken, ”“ He crowed - and at least do not dawn there ”,“ The chicken is not a bird - Bulgaria is not abroad, ”“ Like chickens in the shchi (oshchip) to get ”,“ While the roasted rooster does not bite, ”“ Writes - to to chicken paw "and t. d.) in folk songs (e.g.," Chicken grilled ").

Chickens and roosters are an integral element in the cultures of other countries and peoples. The rooster is the national bird of France and Kenya (unofficially). In addition, the hen of the Appenzeller shitz; breed (German: Appenzeller Spitzhaube?) Is the national bird of Switzerland. In the United States, the Red Rhode Island chicken is chosen as the official bird symbol of Rhode Island, and the blue breed rooster (Eng. Blue Hen Chicken) is chosen in Delaware. Chickens or roosters are recognized as symbols of many cities (for example, Kazuno in Japan and Key West in the USA) and other settlements and placed on their emblems. According to A. Numerov, domestic or bankivsky chickens are captured on coins of 16 countries and are the absolute leaders among certain species of birds depicted on coins.

Wild ancestors

It is believed that the ancestors of all currently existing layer breeds are red jungle chickensalso known as wild bankivans chickens (Latin name "Gallus gallus", or "Gallus bankiva"). These birds are close relatives of pheasants and are still found in the wild on the territory of Southeast Asia, particularly in India, Myanmar (Burma), on the Malacca peninsula and on the island of Sumatra, preferring tropical bamboo forests and dense thickets of shrubs. Gallus gallus These birds are small in size (the mass of males does not exceed 1.2 kg, layers weigh 500 g or a little more), fly well, nest right on the ground and have a very fearful character. In their colors, there are usually black stripes on a red or golden background, which is very similar to the Italian quail breed of chickens, also known as brown leggorn. Banking Chickens For the first time, Gallus gallus was named as the ancestor of the current domestic chicken, Erasmus Darwin, whose grandson we all know as the author of an evolutionary theory of the origin of species and who repeated his grandfather's assumption in his book “Changing Animals and Plants in the Home” (1868).

In addition to red, there are three more types of jungle chickens - gray, Ceylon and green, and until recently it was thought that our ancestors used Gallus gallus for domestication. Gallus sonneratii However, recent studies call this point of view into question. So, in 2008, scientists from Uppsala University proved that with the obvious similarity of the genotype of domestic chicken to Gallus gallus, one of the genes is closer to gray jungle variety. From here, a sensational assumption has been made that the modern poultry is a descendant of several species of jungle chickens. Most likely, a domesticated variety of Gallus gallus was first obtained, and then it was crossed with Gallus sonneratii (gray jungle chicken).

Video: Gallus gallus bankers

Time and domestication centers

Since both the external signs and the behavior of modern poultry are not too different from their wild ancestors, most likely, the man did not have to work hard, domesticating this representative of birds.

The process started, judging by the range of Gallus gallus, somewhere in Asia. There is no single opinion not only on the exact (or at least approximate) date of taming the bird, but even on whether it happened progressively, spreading from one point throughout the world, or carried out in parallel in different places. So, archeologists discovered the remains of domestic chickens on the peninsula Hindustan - they are attributed to the beginning of 2 millennia BC, while the Chinese finds are much more ancient - they are about 8 thousand years old (although these data are already being questioned today). And at the turn of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, it was generally suggested that the historical homeland of poultry is Thailand.

However, the history of bird domestication is covered with mystery also because, as it turned out, modern Gallus gallus have already lost their original appearance because of their uncontrolled cross-breeding with domestic chickens. Engraving by Francis Barlow (1626-1704) But today the fact that domestication took place by selecting the largest wild birds and their subsequent crossing between them is considered reliable. This finding led to the identification in poultry of a much higher level of thyroid-stimulating hormone responsible for growth than in wild animals.

Varieties of domestic chickens

For several millennia, during which a person breeds domestic chickens, a huge number of very different breeds of these birds were bred. The decorative and fighting direction of the use of the descendants of Gallus gallus is still preserved, but today the most common area of ​​use for the animal is the food industry. However, since chicken eggs are not less popular than meat in terms of nutritional value three main areas:

Representatives of each of these species of birds differ in certain features.

Egg breeds

The main thing in the egg breed - high egg production rates. In this case, it is important not only the average number of eggs that are laid down by one hen throughout the year, but also the age limits of egg production (age of the first clutch and the period of conservation of peak productivity). To achieve such parameters, one has to sacrifice other qualities that are also valued in poultry. As a result, egg breeds are distinguished:

  • early onset of egg production is usually 4-5 months
  • the annual number of eggs from one hen is from 160 to 365 pieces,
  • relatively small size
  • increased demands on the amount of feed and especially on the content of calcium in it (it is necessary for the formation of egg shells and, in addition, is deposited in the egg itself),
  • high activity
  • weak instinct of incubation.

External signs of egg breeds, in addition to small sizes, are very dense plumage, as well as a narrow body with well-developed wings. The most popular egg breeds and crosses, their main characteristics are shown in the table: