The chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) is a domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the
Red Junglefowl. As one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, and with
a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world
than any other species of bird. Humans keep chickens primarily as a source of food,
consuming both their meat and their eggs.
The traditional poultry farming view of the domestication of the chicken is stated
in Encyclopaedia Britannica (2007): "Humans first domesticated chickens of Indian
origin for the purpose of cockfighting in Asia, Africa, a nd Europe. Very little formal
attention was given to egg or meat production... " Recent genetic studies have pointed
to multiple maternal origins in Southeast, East, and South Asia, but with the clade
found in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa originating in the Indian
subcontinent. From India the domesticated fowl made its way to the Persianized kingdom
of Lydia in western Asia Minor, and domestic fowl were imported to Greece by the
fifth century BC. Fowl had been known in Egypt since the 18th Dynasty, with the "bird
that lays every day" having come to Egypt from the land between Syria and Shinar,
Babylonia, according to the annals of Tutmose III.