Chickens come in many different breeds and a variety of colors. Almost all breeds of chickens have a featherless comb on their heads and wattles under their chins. Females (hens) typically have shorter tails and smaller combs and wattles than the males (roosters). Chickens have four toes on their feet, three pointing forwards and one pointing backwards.
Chickens can range in weight from ½ pound up to 13 pounds (0.2-5.9 kg), with most chickens weighing in the 7-10 pound (3.2-4.5 kg) range.
The chickens at Cosley Zoo are fed a commercial chicken diet, fruits and vegetables.
When a hen ovulates, the yolk of an egg is produced. This yolk then travels into the hen’s oviduct, where it may be fertilized by sperm from a rooster. As the egg travels farther through the oviduct, it is covered by a membrane and a substance called albumin (egg white). As the egg reaches the bottom of the oviduct, a shell is deposited around it and the egg is laid. It takes about one day for the egg to complete this process. A fertile egg with proper incubation takes about 21 days to develop into a chick. A hen can lay an egg even if she has not mated with a rooster; therefore, not all eggs are fertile.
Farm-raised chickens are given a variety of types of housing, from the conventional chicken coop to free range. Basic chicken needs include access to food and water, a shelter from weather and predators, room to exercise, and places to roost and nest. Cosley Zoo’s chickens have an outside yard as well as an indoor coop, which contains their nest boxes, roosts for sleeping, food and water.
The average life expectancy of a chicken raised as a pet is about 8 years.
Domestic chickens provide people with meat, eggs, and feathers.