The chicken is one of the most familiar and ubiquitous of all the domestic animals, having been kept by humankind for thousands of years for its meat, eggs and feathers. It has also played and continues to play a part in religious ceremonies and other ancient rituals, aspects which are examined here. Today, chickens are found in almost every part of the world, and it is estimated that over 24 billion of them exist worldwide. Yet their exact origins are still open to conjecture, despite our long and mutual association, although they most likely stemmed from one of the breeds of Asian jungle fowl, to which many chickens bear a striking resemblance.
"Chickens" serves as a general introduction to the many aspects of keeping domestic chickens, examining their likely origins and relationship with their closest relatives among the gamebirds, while sections on bird biology and behavior highlight the similarities and differences between chickens and other birds, providing insights into the reasons why they behave as they do. Advice is also given on choosing a chicken and where to obtain one and housing, feeding, health, and general care is considered. To finish, a comprehensive description of many of the world's most popular breeds is also provided, which will simplify the task of choosing chickens of your own.