Chickens date back to Asia around 7000BC and were commonly domesticated by 4000BC. Humans have kept roosters and hens as a food source since 3000BC, and chicken remains have been found in Egyptian tombs. There are many different breeds of roosters and hens. In some breeds, males and females share the same vibrant plumage patterns, but not all.
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Egg Laying Types
Some examples of roosters and hens that produce egg-laying hens are the Minorca and the Ancona. The Minorca rooster and hen has solid black plumage, and is a high producer of white eggs. This breed is flighty and shy and does not tolerate confinement. The Ancona has black plumage with white flecks throughout and is a high producer of white eggs. Although considered wild and flighty, the Ancona tolerates confinement.
Meat Producing Types
Roosters and hens in this category are bred because they yield high amounts of quality meat. Cornish roosters have a more vibrant and silky brown plumage than the modest flat plumage of the female. This medium-sized breed has a low egg production and tolerates confinement. Other variations of this type of rooster and hen are Jumbo Cornish X Rock, Cornish Game and Cornish Roaster.
Dual Purpose Types
Although not exceptional in all categories, dual-purpose chickens are egg layers and meat producers. Some common dual-purpose breeds are the Chantecler and Araucana. The Chantecler is all white with a red comb, and the hens are average egg producers of medium light brown eggs. (See References 3) This breed is docile and bears confinement, but noisy. One breed of Araucana is all white the other has a white head, neck and chest, with a green and black bottom half.
These types are not sold as either egg layers or meat producers, but rather for their temperament and plumage. Some examples of breeds in this category are the Cochin and the Leghorn. The Cochins have a dark solid brown plumage or a light brown speckled plumage. The Leghorn is a large white barnyard chicken with a long white tail. Leghorns are bantams, which are smaller than standard and large sized breeds.
Wild Roosters and Hens
All chickens are descendants of the wild chicken native to Thailand. This breed is leaner and more agile than domestic chickens. Males are more colourful than females, having red, bronze and black plumage and a long, high arching plume tail. Females are shades of brown and buff, care solely for the young and vocalise in softer coos than the males cock-a-doodle-doo call.
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