People in large cities and small rural areas are raising backyard chickens. But can chickens live together with humans like dogs and cats? Are chickens considered a domesticated animal?
Chickens were selectively bred over 8,000 years ago, to live alongside humans. They were raised specifically to meet the needs of humans. In other words, today’s chickens are the result of multiple millennia of domestication.
Most people think of chickens as a simple farm animals that is used for commercially for meet and eggs. But these pets are growing in popularity as other domesticated animals such as dogs and cats.
But what exactly makes a domesticated animal? That’s something we should try to figure out together.
What is considered a domesticated animal?
When we talk about domesticated animals, we often think about the domestic animals that have learned to live together with us as pets.
Dogs and cats come to mind when we think about domesticated animals. These animals were specifically bred and raised to be animals that can live side by side with humans as pets.
Chickens have become more popular today, and many people want to know if there’s a lot of work required to raise them.
Domesticated animals are those animals that have been selectively bred for multiple generations so that they can learn to adapt to a life that is lived together with humans
Domesticated animals more dependent on humans for their survival. They can still survive in the wild on their own, but not at the same level as their undomesticated cousins.
Domesticated animals may also differ from one another depending on the purpose to which they were specifically bred for.
There are three main types of domesticated animals based on their purpose. These purposes are companionship, food, and labor.
Domesticated animals are those that were bred to live together with humans as companions. The only purpose these animals is to serve as pets or companions together with the humans, although some of these animals (like the dog) started out to be working animals rather than as pets.
Chickens have come a long way and are one of the most popular farm animals that can safely live with ducks, goats, sheep, cows, donkeys, horses, pigs, etc.
The most common examples of domesticated animals bred for companionship are dogs, cats, hamsters, and rabbits. These animals do have wild counterparts, but are more docile in comparison due to generations of selective breeding.
Animals that are raised and farmed for food are also considered domesticated animals. These animals were selectively bred to be able to live alongside humans so that they would one day be farmed for food.
Many farm animals are actually domesticated animals that were bred for food. This includes cows, pigs, lambs, turkeys, and chickens. Most of these animals are farmed for their meat, and domesticated for other reasons such as their milk or their eggs.
The third types of domesticated animals are the ones that were selectively bred for the purpose of helping humans with their work. These animals are bred to be labor animals, because of their size, strength and natural capabilities.
The more common animals that have been domesticated for labor purposes include horses, donkeys, camels, and water buffalos.
In most cases, we see these domesticated animals in a lot of farms and ranches because their owners use them to do laborious tasks that humans cannot do without the help of animals and machinery.
For instance, water buffalos in man Southeast Asian countries are actually used to till the land for farming.
However, there are also domesticated animals that were bred to work not in farms but for other laborious tasks as well.
Horses, donkeys, and camels, were used for transportation, before the rise of automobiles.
Animals that are chosen for domestication
Many animals can indeed be domesticated, but there are specific reasons to only choose animals that were designed to be domesticated by our ancestors. Here are the usual qualities that make an animal ripe for domestication:
- Animals that are quick to grow and reproduce are great candidates for domestication.
- Similar to the above qualification, animals that can breed easily in captivity and can breed multiple times in a single year easy to domesticate.
- If you noticed that most domesticated animals are herbivores, there is a good reason for that. Most domesticated animals are herbivores or omnivores because they are easier to feed.
- Resilient animals tend to make the best pets, as they are able to survive in different environments and temperatures. For example, an animal that cannot survive through extreme weather during summer and winter might not be the most ideal pet.
- Herd animals make the best domesticated animals, because they will be easier for humans to control.
How domestication works
Domestication works by choosing animals that have traits and abilities that are quite useful for human beings. In this case, wolves were domesticated because they are not only quick and agile hunters but are also capable of hunting at both day and night due to their keen senses of sight and smell.
Because humans needed hunting companions that could help them hunt for food in a much more efficient way, they decided to try to domesticate the wolf. When we think of the wolf, we often think about a savage and wild animal that will try to hunt and kill anything it can eat. In that sense, wolves are probably too difficult for most humans to control due to their savage nature.
But our ancestors were successfully able to domesticate the wolf through selective breeding over multiple generations of choosing the wolves that were much more submissive and willing to accept human domination compared to their more savage and wild counterparts. The end result was the dog, which is a working domesticated animal that can be used for companionship and labor.
Domesticated vs. tame
When we talk about domesticated animals, we often interchange them with animals that are tame. However, the two are very much different and you should never try to mix a domestic animal with that of one that is tame.
For instance, a domesticated animal has been selectively bred to live alongside humans. They are genetically tolerant of humans and are able to treat humans as fellow animals that are a part of their daily lives.
On the other hand, an animal that is tame or was tamed is one that was caught in the wild or bred in captivity but is not naturally accustomed to living with humans.
Essentially, tame animals are not genetically bred to live alongside humans and most likely have undergone rigorous taming sessions to follow the commands of humans.
For example, elephants, tigers, and lions we see doing tricks in circuses are not domesticated animals. They are not naturally inclined to live alongside humans. Instead, they were specifically tamed for the purpose of entertainment.
Simply put, when you want to domesticate an animal, you should be looking for traits that are desirable for human use and then choose the ones in the pack that display those traits the strongest.
These traits can differ such as when wolves of the past were used for their coats or when they were bred to become dogs that can help humans hunt. Even the chicken was domesticated from its wild counterparts to produce an animal that can efficiently produce eggs and can grow to have meat that tastes really well.
So, in relation to that…
Are chickens considered domesticated animals?
Chickens are indeed domesticated animals because of how they were bred for the purpose of providing food to humans and to live alongside humans as animals that are used primarily for nourishment.
It is needless to say that chickens have been bred and raised because of how their meat and eggs provide us with most of our daily nourishment.
The history of how the chicken was domesticated can be traced back all the way to Asian countries such as China and India.
It was in China where bones (about 8,000 to 10,000 BC old) thought to be that of the modern domesticated chickens were found but it was later debunked that these bones belonged to pheasants. Meanwhile, records also suggest that the domesticated chickens were already present in Asia as early as 4,000 BC.
This all means that domesticated chickens have existed several thousands of years ago and have always been a part of daily human life as primary sources of food. That is why chickens have always been a staple part of the Asian diet.
The chicken we have today is the descendent of the red junglefowl. The red junglefowl was first domesticated in Thailand. But, records suggest the domestication occurred three separate places in Asia in three separate times
Since then, the domesticated chicken only continued to spread throughout the world and became one of the most common food items on any menu. That’s because chickens were specifically bred to be commercial animals that can produce hundreds of eggs in a single year and can be grown fast enough so that their meat can be harvested as early as possible.
So, while chickens are indeed raised for food, that only proves their status as domesticated animals.
Are chickens domestic pets?
Chickens can be domesticated to live with humans. Many people have chosen to raise them as pets, alongside with dogs and cats.
They make smart pets that can learn tricks, their names, and come to when called. Be ready to clean up often as they are not potty trained and have uncontrollable bowel movements.