Domestic chickens vary greatly in appearance due to breed, though they share common traits: squat stature, rounded bodies, dense feathers, and wattles of flesh around the face. Adult roosters (males) have distinct combs of red flesh and striking plumage including flowing tails and shiny, pointed feathers. They also tend to be larger than females. Roosters may also have spurs on their legs, which they employ in battles with other males.
Predators include coyotes, foxes, bobcats, weasels, birds of prey, racoons, opossums, skunks, and snakes.
Chickens can live up to 10 years.
Chickens are diurnal, social animals, with one rooster and several hens making up a flock. Nests are made on the ground and females incubate using a bare patch of skin on her chest that develops when brooding. Each clutch can yield up to a dozen eggs. These eggs can incubate for up to a month before hatching.
- Roosters are known for their characteristic crow. This shrill call is used to assertively communicate territory to other males. Hens will not crow, but may cluck to communicate with chicks or after laying an egg.
- Chickens have very sophisticated social behavior with a dominance hierarchy where higher individuals dominate subordinate individuals. This is where the term “pecking order” comes from!
Chickens as well as barnyard animals are commonly kept as pets on farms and ranches. It is always best to do your research before moving forward with purchasing any livestock. These animals require different needs from say your dog or cat.
For instance, most livestock animals are herd animals so having one is not an acceptable option. As always, every animal has individual needs that must be met in order to provide the best possible welfare which means you will need a veterinarian that specializes in hoofstock.