Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom

Ag Facts

Chickens and Eggs

  • The chicken, Gallus gallus domesticus, is a domestic subspecies of the red junglefowl, a member of the pheasant family that is native to Asia. Genetic studies have found that the grey junglefowl also contributed to the chicken's evolution.

  • The breed has survived at large for about 8,000 years—rare for a wild ancestor of a domesticated animal.

  • This bird was probably first domesticated for the purpose of cockfights, not as food.

  • Over 9 billion chickens are raised for food annually in the US.

  • With 25 billion chickens in the world, there are more of them than any other bird species.

  • Chickens are omnivores. They eat seeds and insects but also larger prey like small mice and lizards.

  • Baby chickens are chicks. Female chickens are pullets until they are old enough to lay eggs and become hens. Male chickens are called roosters, cocks or cockerels, depending on the country you are in.

  • A rooster announces to a flock of chickens that he's found food with a "took, took, took." But the hens don't pay attention of they already know there is food around.

  • Roosters perform a little dance called "tidbitting" in which he makes sounds (food calls) and moves his head up and down, picking up and dropping a bit of food. Researchers have found that females prefer a male that often performs tidbitting and has a larger, brighter combs on top of his head.

  • Scientists think that the rooster's wattle—the dangly bit beneath his beak—helps him to gain a hen's attention when he is tidbitting.

  • Chickens aren't completely flightless. They can get airborne enough to make it over a fence or into a tree.

  • The chicken can travel up to nine miles per hour.

  • The chicken was the first bird to have its genome sequenced, in 2004.

  • In Gainesville, Georgia, the chicken capital of the world, it is illegal to eat chicken with a fork.

  • Alektorophobia is the fear of chickens.
  • The egg-laying process for a chicken begins in its eye. Chickens lay eggs only after receiving a light cue, either from natural sunlight entering a coop or artificial light illuminating a commercial egg hatchery. The light stimulates a photo-receptive gland near the chicken's eye, which in turn triggers the release of an egg cell from the chicken's ovary.

  • A hen must eat about four pounds of feed to produce one dozen eggs.

  • A chicken will lay bigger and stronger eggs if you change the lighting in a way to make her think a day is 28 hours long.

  • Some farmers add marigolds to the feed of their chickens to make the yolks of their eggs a darker yellow.

  • Most eggs are laid between 7 and 11 am.

  • Eggs are a good source of lutein, important for eye health.

  • The waste produced by one chicken in its lifetime can supply enough electricity to run a 100-watt bulb for five hours.

  • Agricultural researchers have found a carbonization process that converts ordinary poultry manure into granules and powders that can mop up pollutants in water.

  • Researchers have found a way to turn chicken feathers into strong, plastic composites for products as varied as car dashboards and boat exteriors.

  • Researchers at NASA are testing a new jet fuel made from chicken fat.

  • Feathers make good paper, even for filters or decorative wallpaper. They work best combined with wood pulp to increase the number of times the fiber can be recycled.

  • The superfine size and shape of feathers make them well suited to filtration needs.

  • The "Chicken Dance" was introduced in the United States in 1981 by the Heilbronn Band from Germany during the 1981 Tulsa Oktoberfest. The song was not actually the Chicken Dance, but "Der Ententanz"—"The Duck Dance." There was not a duck costume to be found anywhere in Tulsa; however, a chicken costume was available at one of the local television stations. The station donated the costume for use at the festival, and the rest is history. At that time the tune was all the rage in Germany.

  • Dance Like a Chicken Day is May 15.

  • You can tell whether an egg is fresh or stale by dropping it in water. A fresh egg will sink, but a stale one will float.

  • Eggs contain all the essential protein, minerals and vitamins, and egg yolks are one of the few foods that naturally contain Vitamin D.

  • Eggs are good for your eyes because they contain lutein, which helps prevent age-related cataracts and muscle degeneration.
    An egg shell can have as many as 17,000 pores over its surface.

  • The edible part of a chicken’s egg is approximately 74 percent water, 12 percent protein and 11 percent fat.

  • There are roughly 280 million laying birds in the United States, and each produces 250 to 300 eggs a year.

  • A chef’s hat is said to have a pleat for each of the many ways you can cook eggs.

  • Poultry Lessons

    Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom is a program of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and the Oklahoma State Department of Education.