Friday, June 21, 2013

In the Know of Chickens


I came across an interesting article in the July/August (2012) issue of Chickens Magazine. It was very informative and interesting – all about the ins and outs (literally!) of a chickie. So of course I thought I’d share some the TMI.

 First off, by knowing as much as we can about chickens, from proper care and nutrition, housing, egg laying, anatomy, etcetera…etcetera…etcetera…the better we can take care of our birds. We will be able to spot disease, distress, etcetera…etcetera…etcetera…much quicker. As with ANY animal, pet, livestock, etcetera…etcetera…etcetera…it’s all about observation.

Let’s begin with some chickie history. Chickens were bred and tamed in Southeast Asia. Supposedly we get our modern-day chicken genes from Red and Gray Jungle Fowl…whatever that is. Every chicken out there has two legs and wings and all have feathers, wattles and combs.
Chicken feathers can tell you the overall health of your bird. Chickens LOVE to dust bathe…especially in your newly planted and mulched flower bed…then they will spend time preening their feathers by taking oil from the uropygial gland under their tail base and return oils lost back to the feathers. The oil helps to repel water as well. Wattles are those flaps of skin under the chicken’s chin. They can be blue, black or red. The comb sits on top of the chickie head and can also be several different colors. The comb can come in all shapes and sizes. The purpose of the comb is to regulate body temperature. Chicken breeds meant for warmer weather will have larger combs and those breed for colder climates will have smaller ones.
Chickens can see colors. Red lights in chick brooders reduce stress.
Ears are located at the side of the chicken’s head. Here’s something cool I didn’t know: A hen who has a white ear lobe will lay white eggs and a hen with red ear lobes will lay brown eggs.

 All chickens have spurs – as with most chicken parts, spurs are more pronounced on males.
Chickens can have five toes, depending on the breed, but most have four. Chicken legs are usually yellow, white, olive, black or slate.

The skin of a chicken is very thin. It varies in color too, being either white or yellow. Also a cool note: the skin color will deepen (like the egg yolk will) if the bird is allowed to get out and free-range.
It takes 20 hours to form an egg shell. Most hens will be done producing an egg by 3:00 P.M. It takes about 3 and ½ hours to make the albumen, and 1 and ½ hours to make the shell membrane. The egg is covered with “bloom” or “cuticle” which protects it from bacteria. The shell is produced in the chickie’s uterus.

As for the rooster, his testies are located on the inside. If hens and roosters are housed together, mating is going on 24/7.


Chickens do not have teeth, so most of food breakdown occurs in the gizzard with the help of grit (pebbles, a store-bought mix, etcetera…etcetera…etcetera…) However, first food is stored in the crop, a pouch located below the chicke’s neck, where is can stay here for up to 12 hours.

Hope you found some of this interesting!

                                                                              …cluck… cluck… cluck…

 Urquhart, Kristina Mercedes. “Anatomy 101: All Chicken Keepers Should Know the Ins and Outs of Their hens and Roosters.” Chickens Magazine July/Aug. 2012: 24+


  1. I love informative post, always something new with chooks, thank you xxx

  2. I always wondered why there were white and brown eggs...too bad brown cows don't give chocolate milk! :)

  3. Thanks for reading!!! Sometimes I worry the informative posts are too boring. Glad you all like them!