There are many different varieties of chickens breeds throughout the world. Chickens are the most common species of bird and have been used by man for many hundreds of years as a source of food from both the eggs and the meat.
Chickens are domesticated birds which although attempt to fly are unable to do so. They are capable of flapping their wings but they are unable to remain successfully airborne.
The average chicken lives for between five and seven years, when left to roam as free range and used only for their egg laying capabilities have been known to live considerably longer, pet chickens are recorded as having lived for some twenty years.
All breeds of chickens are susceptible to predators such as foxes, skunks and owls. They need to be provided with protection from these predators as well as the wind and rain.
Chickens breeds are classified by their size, colour and plumage. Within the breeds there are further names given to the different varieties of the same breed.
The names given to the breeds are often associated with the place they were first bred, for example the Orpington originated from Orpington, Kent in the United Kingdom where as the Rhode Island Red was bred in Rhode Island in the Untied States.
The Rode Island Red are a popular choice amongst chickens breeds due to their resilience to illness and good egg production, which is usually between two hundred and fifty to three hundred eggs per bird each year, this breed is also used for table meat and as show birds.
They have dark reddish brown feathers with a high lustre and sheen, red or orange eyes and yellow feet. Some of the different varieties have purple spots or green stripes in their feathers, making them very attractive show birds.
Chickens breeds such as the Orpington lay far fewer eggs than the Rhode Island, usually between one hundred to slightly over one hundred and fifty a year, however, they do continue to lay through the winter.
The egg sizes also vary from small to large depending on which variety of Orpington is laying. Orpington chickens are also used for their meat and like the Rhode Island Reds are also bred as show birds.
One of the most popular commercial chicken breeds is the Leghorn chicken. Leghorn chickens are generally white, although there are different varieties which have their own distinctive colours.
Leghorn chickens are prolific egg layers which makes them one of the most common breeds used for commercial egg laying in the Untied States. This breed can easily lay over three hundred white eggs a year.
However, then tend to be rather noisy and excitable, they mature fast but do not grow into particularly large birds and are not often used for their meat.
The Campine chicken are quite small and although they prefer to be free range are easily adaptable to confinement. This breed is not a particularly hardy bird and is usually used as an ornamental bird due to their golden and silver colourings or for their white egg production.
Marans are one of the smaller chicken breeds which are also used for their egg laying rather than their meat. The eggs are dark brown and on average they lay one hundred and fifty eggs each year. There are nine different varieties of Marans chicken with the Black Copper being the most common.
Other varieties of Marans chicken include the Golden Cuckoo, Black Birchen, white and Columbian. All of the nine varieties have white feet and red or orange coloured eyes.
New Hampshire chickens lay a reasonable amount of brown eggs and are used as a dual purpose chicken chosen for both their meat and eggs. The hens can weigh approximately six and half pounds, while the pullets approximately five and half pounds, the cocks and cockerels are even larger which makes then suitable as a medium sized table bird.
They are a quite a new breed which has been bred extensively from the Rhode Island breed to produce birds which have fast growth, early maturity and commercial economic viability.
One of the United Kingdoms chicken breeds which is used commercially for both its eggs and meat is the Orpington chicken, an average Orpington weighs between seven and ten pounds, however, this breed is also used as a show bird due to their large size and rich colourings.