One of the most widely domesticated poultry species (Gallus gallus), raised worldwide for its meat and eggs. Descended from the wild red jungle fowl of India, chickens have been domesticated for at least 4,000 years. Not until the 19th century did chicken meat and eggs become mass-production commodities. Modern high-volume poultry farms, with rows of cages stacked indoors for control of heat, light, and humidity, began to proliferate in Britain c. 1920 and in the U.S. after World War II (see factory farming). Females are raised for meat and eggs; immature males are castrated to become meat birds called capons. See also prairie chicken.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on chicken, visit

Seen & Heard

What made you look up chicken? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.