Next to the cow, the chicken is one of the most invaluable productive livestock. Just as a cow gives milk all her life to become a provider of meat at the end, the chicken lays an egg almost every day and thereafter enriches our bill of fare as a stewing hen. Besides, it is quite a frugal animal, taking up little space and after fish being capable of making the most out of a unit of feed. These might have been among the reasons why the chicken’s domestication began in the area of Southeast Asia some 6,000 to 8,000 years ago.
Roughly speaking, one differentiates between farm poultry and pedigree hens. Pedigree hens can be further divided into the categories of dwarf hens and normal size hens. In addition, many different breeds exist, for example the Asian type of hen. Originally, farm poultry was kept both for its meat and its eggs. These hens accommodated both uses and were thus called dual-use chickens. Nowadays, breeding has undergone specialization for economic reasons: there is a breeding line each for egg and meat production. A laying hen lays approximately 300 eggs every year and cannot be fattened whereas chickens bred for meat reach a weight of some 5 lbs. in as little as 40 days.