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Digital Subscriptions > Chickens > Urban Chickens 2019 > Bring Back Those Old Time Chickens

Bring Back Those Old Time Chickens

The Heritage chicken versus the industrial chicken. What’s the difference?

About 8,000 years ago, chickens were domesticated from the red jungle fowl, a sprightly chickenlike bird that still thrives in the wilds of Southeast Asia.

Recent research suggests that multiple domestications may have occurred roughly simultaneously in South and Southeast Asia, in places such as North and South China, Thailand, Burma and India.

Since then, hundreds of breeds and types of chickens have evolved through natural and human selection, all tailormade to suit the needs of the people who kept them and the climates and conditions in which they lived. Now, they’re disappearing from the earth at an alarming rate.


Of the 70-some breeds currently maintained by American poultry breeders, half are endangered and 13 are practically extinct.

Chickens are not alone; all livestock species share the same fate. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), at least 1,500 of the world’s estimated 6,000 livestock breeds are in imminent danger of extinction. The organization claims that the world is currently losing an average of two domestic animal breeds each week and that half of the breeds that existed in Europe in 1900 are already extinct.

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