Archaeologists have revealed that the lifespan of chickens used to be much longer. But this is not due to genetics. According to researchers, the secret to chickens’ longer lifespans is that they were considered sacred back then.
Experts have developed a reliable method for determining the age of chickens that lived thousands of years ago. The findings obtained by this method showed that in ancient times chickens were bred for fighting and sacrificial rites, not for meat and eggs.
Thousands of years ago, chickens lived 4 years…
Chickens raised for food today live for several weeks. However, according to the latest findings, the ancestors of these birds, who lived on the British Isles during the Iron Age, could be up to 4 years old.
According to the study, published in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, determining the age of bird remains requires a different method from that of mammals. With the new method developed, it is stated that more than 50% of the chicken bones from the Iron Age, Roman and Saxon periods analyzed so far are 2 years old chickens. 3 year old chickens make up 25% of the remains.
Chicken has changed more rapidly in the last century…
Since the first time humans domesticated animals, they have tried to produce species that are more suitable for their needs by using selective breeding methods. Chickens, such as different kinds of dogs, horses and cattle, also carry the changes caused by these studies from past to present.
The breeding work is basically quite simple. The animals that are closest to the desired characteristics are selected in the herd and they are provided to be the source of the next generation. This process is repeated in each generation so that the desired features are more prominent and permanent.
In the past, chicken breeding studies were only based on growth rate and meat amount, but nowadays other perspectives such as animal welfare, feed efficiency and sustainability, natural mating ability have been brought to these studies.