Chicken Definition | Characteristics & Facts



Chicken Definition

Chicken is a type of domesticated bird that is primarily raised and consumed for its meat and eggs. It is one of the most common and widely consumed poultry species worldwide. Chickens are believed to have been domesticated from the wild red junglefowl in Southeast Asia thousands of years ago.

 Chicken General Characteristics & Facts


Chickens belong to the species Gallus gallus domesticus, a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl.


Chickens were domesticated from wild junglefowl in Southeast Asia around 5,000 years ago. They are one of the most widely domesticated animals in the world.

Size and Weight

Chickens vary in size depending on the breed. On average, they stand about 14 to 18 inches (35 to 45 centimeters) tall and weigh between 4 to 8 pounds (1.8 to 3.6 kilograms).


Chickens have feathers that come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Their feathers provide insulation, protect them from the elements, and aid in flight for some breeds.

Beak and Comb

Chickens have a pointed beak used for pecking, eating, and exploring. They also have a fleshy comb on top of their head, which can vary in shape, size, and color depending on the breed.


With proper care, chickens can live anywhere from 5 to 10 years or longer. However, their lifespan may be shorter if raised for meat production.

Social Behavior

Chickens are social animals that live in flocks. They establish a hierarchy within the group and have a complex communication system using vocalizations, body language, and displays.


Chickens are oviparous, meaning they lay eggs. Hens typically lay eggs every 24 to 26 hours, and if fertilized by a rooster, the eggs can develop into chicks.


Chickens are omnivores and consume a varied diet. They primarily eat grains, seeds, insects, worms, and vegetation. Commercially raised chickens are often fed a formulated diet.

Egg Production

Egg-laying breeds of chickens are prolific egg producers.

Domestic and Wild Breeds

There are hundreds of chicken breeds

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Chicken Physical Characteristics

  • Size: Chickens vary in size depending on the breed. On average, they can range from small bantam breeds that weigh around 1-2 pounds (0.5-1 kg) to larger standard breeds that can weigh up to 8-10 pounds (3.6-4.5 kg).
  • Body Shape: Chickens have a compact and plump body shape with a rounded breast and a relatively short, broad back. They have a horizontal posture, with their bodies held parallel to the ground.
  • Feathers: Chickens are covered in feathers that come in a wide range of colors and patterns. Feathers can be soft and fluffy or stiff and pointed, depending on the specific breed. They provide insulation, protection, and aid in flight for certain breeds.
  • Head: Chickens have a small head relative to their body size. They have a distinctive comb on top of their head, which can vary in shape and size depending on the breed. Chickens also have a pair of wattles that hang beneath their beak.
  • Beak: The beak of a chicken is short, curved, and pointed. It is used for pecking and foraging for food.
  • Eyes: Chickens have large, round eyes with a wide field of vision. Their eyes can vary in color, including shades of brown, orange, or red.
  • Legs and Feet: Chickens have two scaly legs with strong, clawed feet. The color of their legs and feet can vary, ranging from yellow to gray or black.
  • Wings: Chickens have wings that are generally small in proportion to their body size. While they are not strong flyers, their wings enable them to glide short distances and aid in balance and maneuvering.

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Scientific Classification of Chicken

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Galliformes

Family: Phasianidae

Subfamily: Phasianinae

Genus: Gallus

Species: Gallus gallus

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Chicken FAQs

What Chicken Eats?

  • Grains: wheat, barley, corn, and oats.
  • Seeds: Including sunflower seeds and flaxseeds.
  • Vegetables: Such as lettuce, spinach, carrots, and cucumbers.
  • Fruits: Including apples, berries, melons, and bananas.
  • Insects and Worms: Chickens are natural foragers and will consume insects like worms, beetles, and grasshoppers.
  • Kitchen Scraps: Leftover vegetables, fruits, and bread can be given to chickens as long as they are safe for consumption.
  • Commercial Chicken Feed: Specially formulated feed designed for chickens that contains a balanced mix of grains, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Grit: Chickens require small stones or grit to aid in grinding and digestion.
  • Protein Sources: Occasionally, chickens may be given protein sources like mealworms, fishmeal, or cooked meat scraps.
  • Green Vegetation: Chickens can benefit from access to fresh grass, weeds, and other green plants in their environment.
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