There are over 200 different chicken breeds in the world today. The total number of individual chickens exceeds 10 billion! That means there are more chickens than people on earth. When a chicken is born, we call it a chick; adults are, of course, called chickens. Females are known as hens and the males are known as roosters. Chickens are important for two reasons; they produce meat and eggs.
Where do you get your eggs from? The fridge? Most likely those eggs came from chickens in a large factory farm. The eggs you see at the store are almost always white because they were laid by a Leghorn chicken (Leghorns are small chickens who ley large white eggs). However, not all eggs are white, different breeds of chickens produce different colored eggs. Many are white and brown, but some can be green or blue. There are many people who raise their own chickens on small farms or even in their back yards. For a farmer, three good lying hens will produce about two eggs a day. A hen will lay about twenty dozen eggs in her first year, each year after that she will lay fewer.
The eggs you buy in the store will never have a baby chick in it. For a chick to be born the egg must first be fertilized. Once the egg is laid the hen must then sit on the egg, keeping it warm, for twenty-one days. This period is called incubation. After the incubation period the baby chick must hatch itself by pecking its way out of the egg shell. When a chick is born it is covered in a soft fluff, over time it will begin to grow its feathers. In just a few months the chick will look like its mother or father. At twenty-five weeks old a hen will be ready to ley her first eggs.