The domestic chicken was selectively bred from red jungle fowl, and were originally bred for cockfighting. Once they were reared for meat and eggs, chickens have come to heavily outnumber all other bird species in existence. They are reared all round the world and the UK alone recognises over 124 breeds of chicken.

They are typically used for meat, eggs, and kept and bred by hobby breeders, but they have also increased in popularity as 'back garden' pets for the average family due to their charming dispositions and fresh eggs. Many products have been developed which are available to buy that can house from two hens to a larger flock that are designed to meet the core five animal welfare needs. 

Individual breeds often have very striking characteristics, as well as producing interesting and varied eggs.


The ASU houses a number of different breeds which show students the variation in production systems and temperaments they can have. ​We are also lucky enough to have our own incubator, which enables us to teach students from primary age up to sixth form, about the life cycle of a chicken. 

Popular breeds include:

  • Sussex - Sussex chickens are bred for their meat and their eggs, and are generally an easy breed to keep. They come in a variety of colours including white, red, buff and speckled. They mature quickly and adults grow to roughly 1kg, making them a medium sized by sturdy breed. 

  • Legbar - Legbar chickens are often of the cream variety, however they do also come in gold and silver. The hens are layers and they produce blue/ green eggs. They are a type of 'autosexing' breed of chicken which means the male and females are different colour so they can easily be told apart, even from as young as one day old. 

  • Silkie - Silkie chickens are very easy to recognise due to their striking feathers and fluffy feet. To accompany their unique appearance, silkies have laid-back temperaments and make excellent pets because of this. They originate in Asia but can now be found worldwide. Silkies have an extra toe on each foot!

  • Orpington - A large and stunning breed, orpingtons are popular due to their large stature and lovely personalities. Thy come in a variety of interesting colours including diamond jubilee, lemon cuckoo, chocolate, and commonly buff. they are excellent layers and weigh around 4kg. 


Common Name: Chickens

Scientific Name: Gallus gallus domesticus

Type: Mammal

Diet: Omnivore

Group Name: Flock

Average Life Span in the Captivity: 5 - 10 Years


Size: Head to Tail: 40-70cm

Weight: 2 - 3.6Kg

IUCN Red List Status:                  Least Concern








Least Concern


11 week chickens

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