Poultry farming in antiquity.

Poultry farming has its origins in antiquity, with the domestication of birds such as chickens, ducks, and geese by the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Greeks for their use as food and as a source of eggs. Over time, poultry farming developed and became an important industry in Europe and North America in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, poultry farming has expanded globally and is a key global industry for food production and income generation in many countries.

In antiquity, poultry farming was primarily done on a small scale, with birds raised in coops or small family farms. The diet consisted of basic grain and food scraps, and medical care was limited.

Overall, poultry farming in antiquity was an important practice for the subsistence and economy of ancient cultures and is considered one of the first steps in the history of modern poultry production.

Archaic and ancient chicken breeds.

Chicken breeds considered archaic or precursors to modern ones include several varieties that have been bred for their particular characteristics throughout history. Some of these breeds are:

    • Gallus gallus (the red junglefowl): This is the species from which most modern domestic chickens descend. It is native to Southeast Asia and is considered the main ancestor of domestic chickens.
    • Dorking: Originating from England, it is one of the oldest known breeds, with a history dating back to Roman times. It is recognized for its high-quality meat and adaptability.
    • Langshan: This Chinese breed is another ancient breed known for its good egg-laying ability and meat.
    • Hamburg: With origins in Europe (Germany and the Netherlands), this is an ancient breed appreciated for its egg production.
    • Silkie: Known for its silk-like feathers, this breed has ancient origins in Asia and is famous for its docility and meat.
    • Java: One of the oldest breeds in the United States, developed in the 19th century but with origins in Asia. It is known for its hardiness and good production of both meat and eggs.
    • Cochin: Originating from China and brought to Europe in the 19th century, this breed is valued for its large size and abundant plumage.
    • Brahma: Originating from the Himalayas, this breed was developed in the United States in the 19th century from birds brought from China and India.

There are several chicken breeds considered ancient and have been maintained to the present day. Some of the oldest breeds include:

    • Aseel Chicken: A fighting breed originating from India, believed to have existed for over 2,000 years.
    • Fayoumi Chicken: A breed from Egypt known for its agility and speed.
    • Leghorn Chicken: A breed from Italy known for its ability to produce large quantities of eggs.
    • Rhode Island Red Chicken: A breed from Rhode Island, USA, known for its hardiness and egg production.

These are just some of the oldest known chicken breeds, each with its own unique history and characteristics, and its relationship with the main laying hen breeds today.

The Egyptians and poultry tradition.

The ancient Egyptians had a significant tradition in poultry farming, and birds were an integral part of their daily life and religion. It is believed that they domesticated birds such as ducks, geese, and chickens for use as food and for obtaining eggs.

Additionally, some birds were considered sacred in Egyptian religion, such as the sacred Ibis, associated with Thoth, the god of wisdom, and the Bird of Amon, associated with the god Amon. These birds were worshiped and held in high esteem throughout Egypt.

During the Pharaonic era, poultry farming developed and became an important industry. The Egyptians learned to raise birds on specialized farms and improved egg and meat production through the selection of the fittest birds.

Discover the chickens That dominate poultry farming today.

Discover the most popular and productive breeds in our modern poultry industry. From the most disease-resistant to the most prolific in egg production, we present a detailed analysis that will guide you through the world of laying hens.

Prominent modern breeds.

    • Isa Brown Chicken: Known for its high egg productivity and resilience.
    • Sussex Chicken: Popular for both meat and egg production, known for its docile temperament.
    • Plymouth Rock Chicken: Valued for its adaptability and consistent egg production.

Poultry farming has come a long way since its beginnings in antiquity. From the rudimentary practices of early civilizations to today’s advanced and globalized industry, poultry farming has played an essential role in the food and economy of humanity. Understanding and preserving ancient breeds, along with innovation in breeding and production, ensure that this millennia-old tradition continues to thrive in the future.