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Poultry is a common term and it indicates all the domesticated birds which are reared for the production of eggs and/or meat for the economic benefits of human beings. The most important poultry species are chicken or fowl, duck, quail, turkey, guinea fowl, peafowl, etc.


The term ‘poultry’ most often used as synonymous with chicken as it accounts for more than 90% of the total poultry population in India and our poultry industry is mainly chicken-oriented.


In the United States, the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act defines the term “poultry” to include birds that are deemed to be major animal species (chickens and turkeys). In a broader sense, the term “poultry” also encompasses avian species
that are “minor” animal species.

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) defines “minor” animal species by exclusion, meaning that the “major” animal species have been identified and all others are deemed “minor. Major animal species are dogs, cats, horses, cattle, swine, chickens, and turkeys.

Therefore, examples of “minor” poultry would include ducks, geese, game birds, pigeons, and so on.

“poultry” is deemed to refer to any avian species that have the potential for its meat, eggs, offal (entrails and internal organs of an animal used as food), by-products (i.e., feathers), or manure to directly or indirectly enter or influence any portion of the human food chain.

United States of America Food and Drug Administration’s definitions of species and classes of chickens and turkeys

CHICKENSEggfrom in ovo until hatching
Layer hensHens that produce eggs for human consumption
Chickschickens from the day of hatch until they are able to survive in
ambient temperature (no longer brooded).
Broiler Chickens (or fryers or frying
Meat-type chickens normally grown to a market age of 35 to 49
days and market weights between approximately 4 and 7 lb
(1.80 and 3.2 kg).
Roasters (or roasting chickens)

Meat-type chickens grown to market weigh between
approximately 6 and 9 lb (2.7 and 4.1 kg).
Replacement ChickensChickens intended to become laying hens or breeding chickens
Breeding ChickenSexually mature male and female chickens of any type intended
for the production of fertile eggs; the eggs are not intended
for human consumption.
TurkeysEggfrom in ovo until hatching
Layer hensHens that produce eggs for human consumption
PoultsTurkeys from the day of hatch until they are able to survive in
ambient temperature (no longer brooded).
Growing Turkeys
Turkeys grown for meat purposes to a market age of approximately 17 (female) or 22 (male) weeks; may be further divided into heavy or light turkey strains
Finishing TurkeysTurkeys intended for meat production during the last 2 to 4
weeks of growth.
Replacement TurkeysTurkeys intended to become laying hens or breeding turkeys

Breeding Turkeys

Sexually mature male or female turkeys intended to produce
fertile eggs; their eggs are not intended for human food us


The term taxonomy of poultry is a broader term which covers the all poultry population from ancient time to presents development of the poultry. for better understand, we divided the term POULTRY following categories-

  • Species
  • Class
  • breed
  • Variety
  • Strain


It is a group of living organisms consisting of similar individuals capable of exchanging genes or interbreeding and considered the basic unit of taxonomy.

Poultry species with scientific names

The important poultry species in Indian poultry industry are-

  • (i) Chicken/fowl – Callus domesticus (reared for egg and meat).
  • Duck – Anas platyrhynchos (mainly reared for egg and to some extent meat).
  • Quail- Cotumix coturnzx japonia (mainly reared for meat and also egg).
  • (iv) Turkey – Meleagris gallopavo (mainly reared for meat).


It indicates a group of breeds developed in a particular geographical area.The breeds of chicken are classified into four classes-

  • American class
  • English class,
  • Mediterranean class
  • Asiatic class.


A group of birds that are similar in shape, size, and body conformation, and descendants of common ancestry is known as a breed. All the birds of a breed have more or less the same genetic makeup with a common morphological and
physiological setup. The examples of some breeds of chicken are-

  • New Hampshire
  • Australorp,
  • Aseel
  • Sussex,

It is the sub-division of a breed distinguished mainly by colour of plumage, type of comb, etc.For example-

  • Leghorn breed of chicken has 12 varieties, like white, brown, and buff-colored plumage, and single and rose type comb, etc.


It indicates a group of birds with some special characters within a breed or variety. It is developed by a breeder by introducing some economic characters like egg size, growth rate, feed efficiency, laying ability, mortality, etc.

Nowadaysstrain is more popular than the breed concept. for example-

  • Anak-2000
  • Hubbard
  • Caribro-91
  • Vencob,
  • Starbro
  • Shaver Brown
  • Hy-line layer
  • Hubbard classic
  • Isa Brown and white layer
  • Hubbard Efficiency plus (EP)
  • Ross broiler strain
  • Lohman Meat

Important Classes, Breeds and Varieties of Chicken/Fowl

AmericanRhode Island RedSingle comb, Rose comb.
New Hampshire
Plymouth RockWhite, Buff, Barred, Silver, penciled, Patridge, Columbian, Blue.
WyandotteWhite, Buff, Black, Silver laced, Golden laced, Silver penciled.
CornishWhite, Buff, Dark, White laced, Red.
SussexLight, Red, Speckled.
OrpingtonWhite, Buff, Black, Blue.
MediterraneanLeghornWhite, Buff, Black, Silver, Red, Black-tailed, Red Columbian, Rose comb
(White, Brown), Single comb (White, Black, Buff).
MinorcaBlack, White, Buff, Rose comb (Black, White).
AnconaSingle comb, Rose comb.
AsiaticBrahmaLight, Buff, Dark.
CochinWhite, Buff, Black, Patridge.
LangshanWhite, Black.
Fowl of India
AseelNhurie (white), Peela (golden yellow), Khagar (black), Yakuth (black and red), Chitta (black and white), Subja (white and golden), Reza (light red).
Naked neck

General Characteristics Of Chicken Breed

Now we can discuss some chicken breeds with their special characteristics. every breed has distinguishing feathers which unique individually.

White Leghorn- General characteristics of this breed
OriginLeghorn village of Italy. It is a breed of Mediterranean class.
General appearanceSmall and very compact, small head with well-set comb and wattle, long back, prominent breast, tail lowered down, it is the neatest of all birds.
Plumage ColorWhite, evenly distributed over the entire body surface.
Standard weightCock 2.7 kg, Hen- 2.0 kg
Skin ColorYellow
Earlobe ColorYellowish white
Shankyellow and clean
Beak colorYellow
Eggshell colorWhite
Commercial ImportanceEgg-type bird. All the commercial hybrid layers are derived from this breed.

White Leghorn Chicken brred

Rhode Island Red (RIR)
OriginIt is originated in the Rhode Island state of America. It is a breed of American class.
General ApearenceLong rectangular body, broad and deep breast, flat back, massive look.
Plumage ColorBrownish red and well glossed. Main tail feathers and sickle feathers (in males) are black. In females, hackle (neck feather) shows slight black marking at the base.
Standard weightCock-3.8 kg, Hen 3.0 kg
Skin ColorYellow
Earlobe colorRadish
ShankYellow and Clean
Beak ColorBlack
Eggshell colorBrown
Commercial ImportanceDual purpose for egg and meat. More resistant to diseases than other exotic breeds. Used for
upgrading the local/ deshi stock.

Rhode Island Red (RIR)

New Hampshire Chicken Breed

OriginIt is originated in New Ha1l1pshire state of America. It is a breed of American class. This breed is
developed form RIR through selective breeding.
General AppearanceLess rectangular than RIR.
Plumage ColorChestnut red. The main tail feathers are black. In females, lower neck feathers are distinctly tipped with black.
Standard WeightCock-3.8 kg, Hen- 3.0 kg
Skin ColorYellow
Earlobe color Reddish
ShankYellow and clean
Beak colorYellow
Eggshell colorBrown
commercial ImportanceDual purpose for egg and meat.

New Hampshire Chicken Breed

Australorp chicken Breed

Origin This breed is developed in Australia from Black
Orpington. It is an English breed.
General Appearance Very fleshy, body slopes gradually towards tail, deep body, closely feathered, long back, more
upright and less massive look.
Plumage colour Black, plumage is lustrous greenish-black in all the
sections of the body.
Standard weight Cock 3.8 kg, Hen 3.0 kg
Skin colourWhite
Colour of earlobeRed
Shank Black or dark slate-colored, clean.
Egg shell colorBrown
Commercial importance Dual purpose for egg and meat. They can maintain
themselves in wet and heavy rainfall areas.
Australorp chicken Breed

Light Sussex Breed

OriginThis breed is originated in the Sussex country of England. It is a light variety of Sussex breed of
English class.
General AppearanceDeep body with very good fleshing quality, broad
Plumage ColorWhite plumage with black-streaked feathers on the neck
and tail.
Standard WeightCock 4.0 kg, Hen 3.0 kg
Skin colorWhite
Earlobe colorRed
ShankWhite-colored, clean.
Beak coloredColored
Eggshell colorbrown
Commercial ImportanceMeat type

Light Sussex Breed


Nowadays pure breeds of chicken are not generally used for the commercial production of egg or meat. First, the pure breeds are replaced by breed crosses, and now breed crosses are replaced by strain crosses.

Some important breed crosses are-

Austra – whiteThe Australorp male is crossed with White Leghorn female to produce this breed cross.
Rhodo – whiteThe Rhode Island Red male is crossed with a White Leghorn female to produce this breed cross. White plumage is dominant with occasional blackish feathers.
Sussex – hampshireThe Sussex male is crossed ‘with Hampshire female to produce this breed cross.
Red- rockThe Rhode Island Red male is crossed with Barred Plymouth Rock to produce this breed cross. The male progenies are barred and females are black.

Some important Strain crosses are-

Broiler strainsB – 77
Caribro – 91
IBB – 83
Anak – 2000, C
habro, etc.
Layer strainsHH – 260
BH -78
ILl – 80
Carigolden – 92
(BV – 300,
Starcross – 288 (white/brown egg)


Backyard poultry medicine And Surgery,

Edited by B, Greencre and Morishita

Manual On Avian Production And Management

DR Ghosh And Samanta
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