The chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) is a type of domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the red junglefowl. It is one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, with a total population of more than 19 billion as of 2011. There are more chickens in the world than any other bird or domesticated fowl. Humans keep chickens primarily as a source of food (consuming both their meat and eggs) and, less commonly, as pets. Originally raised for cockfighting or for special ceremonies, chickens were not kept for food until the Hellenistic period (fourth–second centuries BCE).
Genetic studies have pointed to multiple maternal origins in Southeast Asia, East Asia, and South Asia, but with the clade found in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa originating in the Indian subcontinent. From India, the domesticated chicken was imported to Lydia in western Asia Minor, and to Greece by the fifth century BC. Fowl had been known in Egypt since the mid-15th century BC, with the “bird that gives birth every day” having come to Egypt from the land between Syria and Shinar, Babylonia, according to the annals of Thutmose III.
According to the USDA, chicken (100 g) has moisture (65 g), energy (215 kcal), protein (18 g), fat (15 g), saturated fat (4 g), cholesterol (75 mg), calcium (11 mg), iron (0.9 mg), magnesium (20 mg), phosphorus (147 mg), potassium (189 mg), sodium (70 mg), and zinc (1.3 mg). In terms of vitamins, it contains vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D, and vitamin K.
An early domestication of chickens in Southeast Asia is probable, since the word for domestic chicken (*manuk) is part of the reconstructed Proto-Austronesian language (see Austronesian languages). Chickens, together with dogs and pigs, were the domestic animals of the Lapita culture, the first Neolithic culture of Oceania.
The first pictures of chickens in Europe are found on Corinthian pottery of the 7th century BC. The poet Cratinus (mid-5th century BC, according to the later Greek author Athenaeus) calls the chicken “the Persian alarm”. In Aristophanes’s comedy The Birds (414 BC) a chicken is called “the Median bird”, which points to an introduction from the East. Pictures of chickens are found on Greek red figure and black-figure pottery.
In ancient Greece, chickens were still rare and were a rather prestigious food for symposia. Delos seems to have been a center of chicken breeding (Columella, De Re Rustica 8.3.4). “About 3200 BC chickens were common in Sindh. After the attacks of Aria people these fowls spred from Sindh to Balakh and Iran. During attacks and wars between Iranian and Greeks the chickens of Hellanic breed came in Iran and about 1000 BC Hellanic chickens came into Sindh through Medan”.
The Romans used chickens for oracles, both when flying (“ex avibus”, Augury) and when feeding (“auspicium ex tripudiis”, Alectryomancy). The hen (“gallina”) gave a favourable omen (“auspicium ratum”), when appearing from the left (Cic., de Div. ii.26), like the crow and the owl.
For the oracle “ex tripudiis” according to Cicero (Cic. de Div. ii.34), any bird could be used in auspice, and shows at one point that any bird could perform the tripudium but normally only chickens (“pulli”) were consulted. The chickens were cared for by the pullarius, who opened their cage and fed them pulses or a special kind of soft cake when an augury was needed. If the chickens stayed in their cage, made noises (“occinerent”), beat their wings or flew away, the omen was bad; if they ate greedily, the omen was good.
In 249 BC, the Roman general Publius Claudius Pulcher had his “sacred chickens” ” thrown overboard when they refused to feed before the battle of Drepana, saying “If they won’t eat, perhaps they will drink.” He promptly lost the battle against the Carthaginians and 93 Roman ships were sunk. Back in Rome, he was tried for impiety and heavily fined.
In 162 BC, the Lex Faunia forbade fattening hens to conserve grain rations. To get around this, the Romans castrated roosters (capon), which resulted in a doubling of size despite the law that was passed in Rome that forbade the consumption of fattened chickens. It was renewed a number of times, but does not seem to have been successful. Fattening chickens with bread soaked in milk was thought to give especially delicious results. The Roman gourmet Apicius offers 17 recipes for chicken, mainly boiled chicken with a sauce. All parts of the animal are used: the recipes include the stomach, liver, testicles and even the pygostyle (the fatty “tail” of the chicken where the tail feathers attach).
The Roman author Columella gives advice on chicken breeding in the eighth book of his treatise, De Re Rustica (On Agriculture). He identified Tanagrian, Rhodic, Chalkidic and Median (commonly misidentified as Melian) breeds, which have an impressive appearance, a quarrelsome nature and were used for cockfighting by the Greeks (De Re Rustica 8.3.4). For farming, native (Roman) chickens are to be preferred, or a cross between native hens and Greek cocks (De Re Rustica 8.2.13). Dwarf chickens are nice to watch because of their size but have no other advantages.
According to Columella (De Re Rustica 8.2.7), the ideal flock consists of 200 birds, which can be supervised by one person if someone is watching for stray animals. White chickens should be avoided as they are not very fertile and are easily caught by eagles or goshawks. One cock should be kept for five hens. In the case of Rhodian and Median cocks that are very heavy and therefore not much inclined to sex, only three hens are kept per cock. The hens of heavy fowls are not much inclined to brood; therefore their eggs are best hatched by normal hens. A hen can hatch no more than 15-23 eggs, depending on the time of year, and supervise no more than 30 hatchlings. Eggs that are long and pointed give more male hatchlings, rounded eggs mainly female hatchlings (De Re Rustica 8.5.11).
Columella also states that chicken coops should face southeast and lie adjacent to the kitchen, as smoke is beneficial for the animals and “poultry never thrive so well as in warmth and smoke” (De Re Rustica 8.3.1). Coops should consist of three rooms and possess a hearth. Dry dust or ash should be provided for dust-baths.
According to Columella (De Re Rustica 8.4.1), chickens should be fed on barley groats, small chick-peas, millet and wheat bran, if they are cheap. Wheat itself should be avoided as it is harmful to the birds. Boiled ryegrass (Lolium sp.) and the leaves and seeds of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) can be used as well. Grape marc can be used, but only when the hens stop laying eggs, that is, about the middle of November; otherwise eggs are small and few. When feeding grape marc, it should be supplemented with some bran. Hens start to lay eggs after the winter solstice, in warm places around the first of January, in colder areas in the middle of February. Parboiled barley increases their fertility; this should be mixed with alfalfa leaves and seeds, or vetches or millet if alfalfa is not at hand. Free-ranging chickens should receive two cups of barley daily.
Columella advises farmers to slaughter hens that are older than three years, those that aren’t productive or are poor care-takers of their eggs, and particularly those that eat their own and other hens’ eggs.
According to Aldrovandi, capons were produced by burning “the hind part of the bowels, or loins or spurs” with a hot iron. The wound was treated with potter’s chalk.
For the use of poultry and eggs in the kitchens of ancient Rome see Roman eating and drinking.
Chickens were spread by Polynesian seafarers and reached Easter Island in the 12th century AD, where they were the only domestic animal, with the possible exception of the Polynesian rat (Rattus exulans). They were housed in extremely solid chicken coops built from stone, which was first reported as such to Linton Palmer in 1868, who also “expressed his doubts about this”.
Chicken is the most commonly consumed poultry around the world. We love it because it’s cheap and it’s a high source of protein, and of course you can make a variety of dishes using chicken. Based on the quantity of chicken consumed by Pakistanis, it can easily be said, it’s crossing the boundaries of healthy poultry consumption. This is because our chicken consumption pattern closely resembles to the pattern a protein deficient person should follow and protein deficiency is not really a common disease in the teenage and adult population these days. The worst part is that the problem isn’t only about over consuming the white meat. Below is the list of dangers of eating chicken.
In religion and mythology
Since antiquity chickens have been, and still are, a sacred animal in some cultures and deeply embedded within belief systems and religious worship. The term “Persian bird” for the rooster appears to have been given by the Greeks after Persian contact “because of his great importance and his religious use among the Persians”.
In Indonesia the chicken has great significance during the Hindu cremation ceremony. A chicken is considered a channel for evil spirits which may be present during the ceremony. A chicken is tethered by the leg and kept present at the ceremony for its duration to ensure that any evil spirits present go into the chicken and not the family members. The chicken is then taken home and returns to its normal life.
In ancient Greece, the chicken was not normally used for sacrifices, perhaps because it was still considered an exotic animal. Because of its valor, the cock is found as an attribute of Ares, Heracles, and Athena. The alleged last words of Socrates as he died from hemlock poisoning, as recounted by Plato, were “Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius; will you remember to pay the debt?”, signifying that death was a cure for the illness of life.
The Greeks believed that even lions were afraid of roosters. Several of Aesop’s Fables reference this belief.
In the New Testament, Jesus prophesied the betrayal by Peter: “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” It happened, and Peter cried bitterly. This made the rooster a symbol for both vigilance and betrayal.
Earlier, Jesus compares himself to a mother hen when talking about Jerusalem: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”
In the sixth century, Pope Gregory I declared the rooster the emblem of Christianity and another Papal enactment of the ninth century by Pope Nicholas I ordered the figure of the rooster to be placed on every church steeple.
In many Central European folk tales, the devil is believed to flee at the first crowing of a rooster.
In traditional Jewish practice, a kosher animal is swung around the head and then slaughtered on the afternoon before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in a ritual called kapparos; it is now common practice to cradle the bird and move it around the head. A chicken or fish is typically used because it is commonly available (and small enough to hold). The sacrifice of the animal is to receive atonement, for the animal symbolically takes on all the person’s sins in kapparos. The meat is then donated to the poor. A woman brings a hen for the ceremony, while a man brings a rooster. Although not a sacrifice in the biblical sense, the death of the animal reminds the penitent sinner that his or her life is in God’s hands.
The Talmud speaks of learning “courtesy toward one’s mate” from the rooster. This might refer to the fact that when a rooster finds something good to eat, he calls his hens to eat first. A rooster might also come to the aid of a hen if she is attacked. The Talmud likewise provides us with the statement “Had the Torah not been given to us, we would have learned modesty from cats, honest toil from ants, chastity from doves and gallantry from cocks”, which may be further understood as to that of the gallantry of cocks being taken in the context of a religious instilling vessel of “a girt one of the loins” (Young’s Literal Translation) that which is “stately in his stride” and “move with stately bearing” in the Book of Proverbs 30:29-31 as referenced by Michael V. Fox in his Proverbs 10-31 where Saʻadiah ben Yosef Gaon (Saadia Gaon) identifies the definitive trait of “A cock girded about the loins” in Proverbs 30:31 (Douay–Rheims Bible) as “the honesty of their behavior and their success”, identifying a spiritual purpose of a religious vessel within that religious instilling schema of purpose and use.
The chicken is one of the symbols of the Chinese Zodiac. In Chinese folk religion, a cooked chicken as a religious offering is usually limited to ancestor veneration and worship of village deities. Vegetarian deities such as the Buddha are not recipients of such offerings. Under some observations, an offering of chicken is presented with “serious” prayer (while roasted pork is offered during a joyous celebration). In Confucian Chinese weddings, a chicken can be used as a substitute for one who is seriously ill or not available (e.g., sudden death) to attend the ceremony. A red silk scarf is placed on the chicken’s head and a close relative of the absent bride/groom holds the chicken so the ceremony may proceed. However, this practice is rare today.
A cockatrice was supposed to have been born from an egg laid by a rooster, as well as killed by a rooster’s call.
7 Amazing Benefits
1. Helps build muscles
Chicken is one of the best non-vegetarian sources of protein. It is lean meat, which means that it contains more amount of proteins and less amount of fat. A 100g serving of roasted chicken offers you 31g of protein, making it great for those who want to bulk up and build muscles.
2. Keeps your bones healthy
Apart from protein, chicken is rich in several minerals like phosphorus and calcium, that helps keeps bones in mint condition. Also, it has selenium which has been known to cut risk of arthritis.
3. Relieves stress
Chicken has two nutrients that are great for reducing stress – tryptophan and Vitamin B5. Both of them have a calming effect on your body and this makes chicken an excellent option after a stressful day. Also, it tastes great and that too adds to its stress releasing, happiness inducing properties. Read our mega guide on how to deal with stress.
4. Reduces PMS symptoms
Magnesium, a nutrient present in chicken helps soothe symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome and fight the various mood changes that a woman might experience during her periods. Here are more tips on dealing with PMS.
5. Helps boost testosterone levels
Men should consume foods rich in zinc as it helps regulate testosterone levels as well as boost sperm production.
6. Boosts immunity
Chicken soup has long been used as a home remedy for relieving cold, flu and other common respiratory infections. The hot steam of chicken soup helps clear nasal and throat congestion while the thick fluid coats the throat to prevent invasion of respiratory linings by microbes to cause infection. A study evaluating this effect suggested that chicken soup inhibits migration of neutrophils, a type of immune cells, thereby preventing inflammation during common infections and boosting immunity.
7. Promotes heart health
Chicken, being rich in vitamin B6, plays an important role in preventing heart attack. Vitamin B6 helps by lowering the levels of homocysteine, one of the key components linked to an increased risk of heart attack. Besides, chicken is also a good source of niacin that helps lower cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease development. The American Heart Association also recommends consumption of chicken over red meat since it contains less amount of saturated fats and is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that exhibit beneficial cardiovascular effects.
5 Hidden Dangerious side effects Of Eating Chicken
1. Factory Farmed Means Not Good
The problem starts when you have no idea what is in the chicken you are eating. Factory farmed chicken contains all sorts of things that you would never want in the food you and your family eats. For example, the broiler chicken that we generally get from any chicken shop, before the technological advancements in the 2000 decade, used to weigh around 905 grams (roughly a kilogram) alive. Today that same chicken weighs 4202 grams (more than 4 kilograms) alive. That is logical to believe that the genetically modified chicken has been consuming genetically modified fodder. Lack of concern on both the seller’s and consumer’s part is doing all sorts of damage to our health. All of a sudden we have weaker stomachs, our digestive immunity is not as good as our rural peers, and we feel full even though we just took a few bites of our meal.
2. Extreme Contamination Risk
Worldwide, roughly 52 billion chickens are artificially hatched. They are slaughtered within 42 days. Their natural life span is 10-15 years. The poultry industry is producing at a rate it can’t even control. This is because we are consuming chicken excessively and the menu at fast food chains and restaurants feature white meat greatly that the producers are forced to do dirty tricks on the chicken and make them grow to a huge size within 40-50 days. The hygiene inside their facilities is something that is so off-putting that many of you will probably go vegetarian if you ever visit one. This makes the chicken fully exposed to diseases which it easily carries from their pens to the meat shops and from there straight into our kitchen.
3. Reduction of Antibiotics
When a chicken is forced to grow to maturity within 50 days and even forced to hatch earlier than it normally would have, it does a lot to the bird. Apparently healthy, but their fodder and living conditions are so foul that the poultry loses pretty much all of its nutritional value and instead becomes a carrier of diseases for its consumers. The most common is the high risk of E.Coli. A bacteria that reduces the immunity to many diseases. The least it can do is cause food poisoning and at worst anything could happen. This is not even the worst part. It reduces the ability of antibiotics of helping you to fight the diseases you are now prone to.
4. High Risk of Breast and Prostate Cancer
The bodybuilder chicken that has suddenly become the standard is actually fed Arsenic in order to grow so much. Arsenic is like a nightmare to humans. It is literally as bad as it gets. Consuming chicken on a daily basis or even after every 2 days results in buildup of arsenic in our body. The results are catastrophic. In women it causes breast cancer and men fall victim to prostate cancer. This is getting alarmingly common in bodybuilders and fitness freaks who consume chicken in very high quantities. Irrespective of gender, the compound causes dementia, and many other neurological problems.
5. Weight Gain
When fitness freaks focus on gaining muscle they turn towards poultry and at the same time we are advertised that chicken is our healthy light snack that won’t cause any increase in our weight. But actually, white meat is so low on fiber you can probably just go on eating it as much as you want and at the same time it is extremely calorie-dense meat. You will never feel full and you would have consumed enough for 2 meals at the same time.