I got my first flock of chickens when I was seven years old. They are really fun to watch and take care of and their eggs are another great source of "very local food." This article is what I have learned about the history of chickens and how to care for them.
The History of Chickens
Modern breeds of chickens are descended from Junglefowl of East Asia. Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus) and some Grey Junglefowl were domesticated 7,400 years ago in China and 5,000 years ago in India. The yellow legs of chickens came from the Grey Junglefowl.
Chickens spread from China and India to the rest of the world because of the sport of cockfighting and their popularity as food sources. They were popular because they didn't cost very much to buy or feed, were easy to care for, and practical for meat because you could eat one in a night.
Care and Management
I use a BriteTap Chicken Waterer in a water cooler when the temperature is above freezing. In the winter, I use a heated nipple waterer to keep the water from freezing. I like to use the nipples because they keep the water cleaner.Chicken / poultry watering nipples on Amazon.
I feed the chickens New Country Organics (it used to be called Countryside) Soy free Layer Feed. It is made locally using mostly local grain - corn, oats, wheat, and field peas.
My favorite breed of chicken is the Red Star. I've had four (I have only three now) and they all have been really friendly and good layers. You can also tell if they're male or female when they are chicks. I have a Plymouth Rock, Roxie, and she is a little wild but funny and she talks a lot! She will chase me around the yard! When she was young, before we got her, she lived with some very wild Americanas. I've also had a Buff Orpington, Queenie. She had something wrong with her (organ related?), but she was really nice too.
I highly recommend Red Stars if you want a friendly chicken that is a good layer. If you need to pick the chicken up, it is nice to have one that is o.k. with it.
If you have a favorite breed, share in the comments what its personality is like, how many you've had, etc. and it might get put in a post.