Chickens have been kept by humans for thousands of years – but not in the form we see today. The average backyard chook is thought to be descended from a species called the ‘Red Jungle Fowl’, a large, predominantly ground-dwelling bird that still exists in the wild today. It looks very much like a rooster, but of a strange and feisty variety! They were brought to live with humans, in a process known as 'domestication'. Through thousands of years of living with chickens, and breeding them, poultry keepers have altered the Red Jungle Fowl, producing the many different kinds of breeds of chicken we see in Australia today. By mating different body forms, patterns and colours together, our ancestors have created hundreds of new forms for you to choose from.
Chickens have been enjoyed by Australians for generations
Chickens were brought over to Australia by the First Fleet, and since that time they have become immensely popular. Just a generation or so ago, keeping ‘backyard chooks’ was a common practise, but as the price of commercially-produced eggs lowered so did the number of hen keepers. However, recently there’s been a strong resurgence, with people recognising the charms of chickens and wanting to know precisely where the food on their table comes from. Today, there are not only thousands of chook keepers in Australia, but over 250 poultry clubs: organisations where chook owners from all over the country get together to share their passion.