Chickens

Origin

no-one knows, could be related to dinosaurs.

 

Nature

depends on the chicken, time of year, whether they are broody for chicks, moulting...

 

Did you know?

  • Exceptional birds can live 10-15 years but the average is about 7 years.
  • There are around 175 different varieties of chicken and about 60 different breeds officially classified around the world.
  • Why are some eggs white? brown? green!!! All chooks egg shells are either blue or white. Brown eggs occur when the shell is coated in a layer of brown pigment just before it leaves the hens body. There is a gene responsible for the brown pigment, some hens have it and some don't. If a hen has both the blue and the brown genes, then her egg will be a shade of green. Anything from nearly a mud colour to a clear, delicate shade.

 

 

Brown Shaver ( Lucky Clucky)

feet

These are the brown hens that provide eggs at commercial poultry farm. The names Shaver and Hyline denote the different commercial breeding companies that created the bird. The two breeds look very similar and are a complex genetic mix, designed by humans over many years to get a strain of bird that is a good layer that eats less for higher production and produces on average 300 eggs per year at its peak. All this egg laying means after about 18 months the commercial layer bird needs to be replaced because their egg production and shell quality begins to fall. Some are lucky enough to find homes in backyards around the country. While a re-homed bird won't ever reproduce the numbers and quality of egg again, you'll still get a perfectly good hen. It may however require a bit of training (for example it probably won't know how to perch), a warm place to live while it acclimatizes to the outdoors, and food provided while it learns how to forage. Lucky Clucky was bought as an ‘end of lay’ chicken for $1.50 and she provides Beverley with at least 1 egg a day.

 

Bantam Frizzle (Madame Frou Frou)

While listed in the Standard as a breed, frizzling is a genetic modification that can be easily introduced into any population of chickens. It causes each feather to curl back toward the bird's head instead of lying naturally pointed toward the tail. A bantam chicken is a very small chicken. Frizzle’s cannot fly.

 

Araucana/Barred Rock crosses ( un-named members of the zoo)

blue egg

The little chicks that are rapidly growing are a cross between the Araucana and Barred Rock chicken. They are blue grey in colour with white barred marks on their wings. We are not sure which breed of chicken they will resemble as they grow up so we are giving details of the background of the breed of the parents.
The Araucana is a unique breed that has been a topic of controversy ever since it was first imported into the United States sometime during the late 1920s or early 1930s. Not much is known about the origin of the Araucana except that some of them were transported to the United States from South America. They have been named Araucana chickens as it is thought they were traded by the Arauca Indians of Northern Chile. Blue and green eggs have been reported from South America since mid-sixteenth century.
There are stories about the Araucanas going to England with mineral traders who sailed around the Northern Isles from Chile. In a storm, boats foundered and the wreckage ended up on the shore. Amongst this were the hens that the ships carried always for fresh egg supplies. These were blue egg laying with unusual ear tufts. They became known as the Sea Chickens of Mull. The Araucana as we know it today is a hybrid of two South American breeds: the Collonca (a naturally blue-egg laying, rumpless, clean-faced chicken) and the Quetros (a pinkish-brown egg layer that is tailed and has ear-tufts).The ancestors of the modern Araucanas are often confused with two other types of colored-egg-laying chickens: Ameraucanas and Easter Eggers. It is not uncommon for another breed, the Ameraucana, to be mistaken for an Araucana. The Ameraucana was developed in the United States in the 1970s in an effort to retain blue egg color in a larger, tailed chicken. The Ameraucana should also lay blue eggs, but unlike the Araucana it has a tail and possesses muffs and a beard, which are quite different from the tufts of the Araucana.
Muffs and beards are fluffy poofs that grow on the cheeks and chin of the bird, whereas tufts are actual feathers that grow from fleshy lobes called peduncles on either side of the birds' face. Tufts are associated with a lethal gene, which makes them difficult to attain.
The Easter Egg Chicken is not an actual breed; the term refers to any bird that lays colored eggs. The blue shell color is a genetically dominant trait. This means that when the Araucana breed is crossed with another breed of domestic chicken the female offspring will always lay blue or tinted eggs. This has been the reason that some crossbreeds have been mistaken for purebred Araucanas. This means that if any of the hen chicks at zippity zoo begin to lay blue eggs we have an ‘Easter Egg Chicken.’
However, not all araucanas lay blue eggs. Nearly all purebreeds do, but there will be about 5% that have the white egg gene.As far as cross breeds go, only about 75% will have the dominant blue gene and produce a blue shell. the rest carry it as a recesive and it may pop up in generations down the track.

 

Silky Chickens - coming soon to Zippity Zoo

Silkies are believed to have originated in Asia although whether in China, Japan or India is unclear. The Venetian explorer Marco Polo saw them in South China in 1298 and wrote about them in his chronicles, however, it is safe to say that they had been around a while before Marco Polo. Silkies get their name from their fluffy plumage and soft, silky haired appearance. They are easy to keep and make great pets. Silkies are the only chicken to have dark blue skin and black bones.
Silky Bantams are some of the most charming and beguiling oddities of the Poultry Fancy. They possess many characteristics that set them apart from the other breeds of chickens; the most obvious being the texture of their feathers which is almost fur or silk-like in appearance - hence their name.
They also possess topknots or crests on their heads and abundant feathers growing down their legs and middle toe. Silkies are among the few other breeds of chickens that possess five toes instead of the usual four.
Silkies are available in two types, bearded and non bearded. While both types have a crest like a powder puff on top of their heads the nonbearded types are the original bird in Australia and have wattles 25mm - 40 mm long. Bearded birds are bred to have very small wattles, around 5mm long, with full, fluffy beards which puff up around the face.
Silkies differ from other fowls in that they have dark flesh (the comb should be mulberry red in colour). The Silky of past times and the modern Silky do not resemble each other in many respects, being that the ancient Silkies evidently did not have leg feathering or any crest to speak of. In fact, the Silky seen today has changed considerably in the last 30 to 40 years. Their crests are larger and the feathering down the legs is more abundant than seen previously. Also a larger variety of colours are found today. The original Silkies were white only, but through meticulous and vigilant breeding by some dedicated fanciers the colours are becoming much better in quality than they were.
Silky chickens cannot fly.

eye

Why are some people scared of chickens? Could it be that chickens are related to dinosaurs?

The Tyrannosaurus rex, commonly known as 'T-Rex' was one of the most famous dinosaurs to ever live. It was the largest known meat eater, and stood almost as tall as a giraffe. It was very powerful and scary.
feet The chicken, commonly known as a chicken is well known throughout the modern world. It scratches the ground for grubs, insects, and also likes corn. Its stands as tall as...well...a chicken! But, next time you see a chicken look closely at its feet, they are scaly with large claws, the feathers when brushed down flat still look like scales AND if you look into the eye of the chicken..you may see a very grumpy T-Rex looking back at you wondering how it ended up as a chicken!!! Now that may be why people are scared of chickens, they can see the hidden dinosaur. Some scientists believe that the chicken is related strongly to the dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus Rex who you might know as 'T-Rex' and are even thinking of using chicken eggs to try and recreate T-rex in the future. Imagine that.

Zippity Zoo recommends these fun activities

  • McGowan, C. (1997). Make Your Own Dinosaur Out of Chicken Bones: Foolproof Instructions for Budding Paleontologists. New York: HarperPerennial. You might not build one with the children, but a chicken bone dinosaur would be great to have around the classroom! A good discussion of dinosaur anatomy and palaeontology is also thrown in.
  • McGowan, C. (1999). T-Rex To Go: Build Your Own From Chicken Bones. New York: HarperPerennial. The sequel to Make Your Own Dinosaur Out of Chicken Bones (see above), this book is a lot of fun, and might be something that you want to do (with a lot of help) with your children. Some good information on T-Rex and some fun recipes for all of the leftover chicken, too.
  • For advanced reading on the Dinosaurs-To-Birds" Theory go to www.apologeticspress.org
    Apologetics Press:: Reason to Revelation, April 2001-21 [4]: 25-31 Archaeopteryx, Archaeoraptor, and the "Dinosaurs- To-Birds Theory by Brad Harrub, Ph.D and Bert Thompson, PhD.
    Apologetics Press:: Sensible Science All Cracked Up Over Dinosaur Genes by Brad Harrub, Ph.D.