Chickendome is finally completed and inhabited by four red point of lay chooks I picked up at the produce store today, where they were loaded into the car for me, and I was offered a cuppa. I like the produce store.
The chooks spent some time in their box when we put them in Chickendome, before venturing out, checking out their water and food supplies, and starting to scratch and peck around. They seem to be enjoying themselves. I’m going to leave them locked in for about two weeks or so before letting them out on weekends to have a bit of a roam around the property. Now we’ll just need to wait for them to settle in and grow up a little before we start getting eggs.
In his own hunt for domestication genes, Andersson is taking a close look at the most populous domesticated animal on Earth: the chicken. Their ancestors, red jungle fowl, roamed freely in the jungles of India, Nepal, and other parts of South and Southeast Asia. Somewhere around 8,000 years ago, humans started breeding them for food. Last year Andersson and his colleagues compared the full genomes of domesticated chickens with those of zoo-based populations of red jungle fowl. They identified a mutation, in a gene known as TSHR, that was found only in domestic populations. The implication is that TSHR thereby played some role in domestication, and now the team is working to determine exactly what the TSHR mutation controls. Andersson hypothesizes that it could play a role in the birds’ reproductive cycles, allowing chickens to breed more frequently in captivity than red jungle fowl do in the wild—a trait early farmers would have been eager to perpetuate. The same difference exists between wolves, which reproduce once a year and in the same season, and dogs, which can breed multiple times a year, in any season.
(from Animal Domestication: Taming the Wild, in National Geographic)
The husband keeps pointing out that Chickendome is not actually a dome – I think he would have preferred it if we had built this geodesic dome chook pen, as at least the name would have been more accurate.
In a few years I’d like to experiment with getting some different chook breeds, and perhaps a rooster. This post on how to choose chooks is interesting – chooks that lay blue eggs sound like fun.