Chickens were domesticated around 10,000 years ago in Southeast Asia and Oceania. They became popular because they produced eggs and meat but did not compete for human food sources, although it is widely believed that cockfighting was the primary reason for the bird’s rise in popularity and spread. It is accepted that the U.S. has the largest chicken population and is the country that consumes the most chicken per annum, with China having the second largest chicken population.
As well as being kept for commercial meat and egg production, chickens are kept as pets and backyard companions, and their popularity for this purpose continues to increase. In Australia, more than 400,000 households keep at least one chicken, with 90% of keepers saying they do so for egg production, and two-thirds say they keep their chickens as pets.
Below are 19 statistics and figures relating to chickens in Australia, including how many chickens there are, and some reasons people keep them.
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The 19 Statistics About Chickens in Australia
- There are 34.4 billion chickens in the world.
- Oceania has the fewest chickens of the six chicken-rearing continents.
- There are more than 100 million chickens in Australia.
- 416,000 Australian households keep at least one chicken.
- 19 million hens are kept for commercial laying.
- There are more than 50 breeds of chicken in Australia.
- The ISA Brown is one of the most popular breeds, and a single hen can produce 300 eggs a year.
- 90% of chicken keepers keep chickens for their egg production.
- A third of chicken keepers said chickens provide companionship.
- Two-thirds of owners keep their chickens as pets.
- Chickens are now the fourth most popular pet.
- Most residential chicken owners are limited to a maximum of 10 birds.
- A chick costs between 5 and 10 dollars.
- It costs approximately $70 a year to feed one chicken.
- Owners are advised to provide at least 4-square metres of coop per bird.
- Australians consume more chicken than any other type of meat.
- Australia has the fourth highest chicken consumption rate, per capita, by country.
- The cost of chicken meat has remained roughly stable in Australia.
- Australia exports 40,000 tonnes of chicken meat per annum.
General Chicken Figures
1. There are 34.4 billion chickens in the world.
Chickens are reared primarily for their meat and egg production, and they are one of the most popular food sources globally. There are 34.4 billion chickens in the world, which is more than three times the 10.6 billion that were recorded in 1990. In particular, the last couple of years saw a significant increase in the number of people establishing backyard chicken coops and raising chickens in their own yard. With a human population of 8 billion people, this is equivalent to just over four chickens per person.
2. Oceania has the fewest chickens of the six chicken-rearing continents.
(Chicken Fans), (Worldometers)
Of the seven continents, Antarctica is the only one that has no chickens. Not only do conditions make it very difficult to keep chickens, but there are concerns that diseases carried by poultry could spread to the penguin population. Of the remaining six continents, Oceania has the least number of chickens. This isn’t really surprising, considering Oceania is the smallest continent by population. Oceania has a population of 45 million people, which is just 10% of South America’s 450 million and 1% of Asia’s 4.6 billion people.
3. There are more than 100 million chickens in Australia.
Chickens are popular in Australia, with a population of 100 million chooks. Considering there are 26 million people, this is roughly in keeping with the global average of four chickens per person.
4. 416,000 Australian households keep at least one chicken.
(Sydney Morning Herald), (Helgi Library)
The Covid pandemic saw an increase in the number of people keeping backyard chickens, whether as a regular and easy supply of eggs or for companionship. As a result of this, it is estimated that 416,000 households in the country now keep at least one chicken. With 10 million households across the country, this means that around 4% of the nation’s households keep chickens.
5. 19 million hens are kept for commercial laying.
Chickens are popular as commercial livestock because they are inexpensive, easy to keep, and hens can lay eggs throughout most of their adult lives. Nearly 20 million laying hens are kept commercially. Unfortunately, chickens are the most abused livestock, and some are kept in battery cages with barely enough room to move.
Chicken Ownership Statistics
6. There are more than 50 breeds of chicken in Australia.
It is unclear exactly how many breeds of chicken there are in the world, but there are believed to be hundreds. In Australia alone, there are 53 officially recognized breeds. Some breeds, such as ISA Browns and Australian Langshans, are preferred for their laying abilities, while Rhode Islands are kept for the quality of their meat. Choosing the right breed is important because it can determine egg production and meat production rates but also the character and approachability of a pet chicken.
7. The ISA Brown is one of the most popular breeds, and a single hen can produce 300 eggs a year.
The ISA Brown is one of the most popular breeds, both commercially and as a pet. In ideal conditions, a single laying hen of this breed can produce as many as 300 eggs in a single year. With a handful of laying producers, it is possible to completely avoid buying eggs from stores and commercial layers.
8. 90% of chicken keepers keep chickens for their egg production.
Although there are a variety of good reasons to keep chickens at home, by far the most common reason given by chicken owners is for their egg production. In fact, nine out of ten owners said, when questioned, that egg production was a reason for keeping chickens.
9. A third of chicken keepers said chickens provide companionship.
Chickens can make very good companions. They tend to chatter, and many breeds are inquisitive and somewhat friendly so they will approach you as you go about your business. One-third of owners said they keep chickens because of the companionship they provide.
10. Two-thirds of owners keep their chickens as pets.
Chickens can, of course, be multipurpose animals. There is no doubting their ability to provide food through their eggs, but they do also make good pets. Although owners do have to regularly clean up their mess and take steps to ensure the good health and maintenance of the flock, approximately two-thirds of owners say they keep chickens as pets and not just solely for their production.
11. Chickens are now the fourth most popular pet.
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Such has been the increase in popularity of backyard chickens that poultry has become the fourth most popular type of pet after cats, dogs, and fish. They are more popular than rabbits and other species of birds, which is perhaps surprising considering the greater effort required to install a coop and manage the living environment of chickens compared to some other pets.
12. Most residential chicken owners are limited to a maximum of 10 birds.
There are regulations and rules in place for most residential chicken owners, and these limit the size of a flock of chickens. Potential owners should check with their local authorities, but most residential owners are limited to a maximum flock of ten birds.
13. A chick costs between 5 and 10 dollars.
It is possible to buy chickens of any age and any maturity. As well as being able to buy mature adults that are ready to lay and brood, therefore naturally increasing the size of a flock over time, it is also possible to buy chicks that have already hatched. Chicks typically cost between $5 and $10, although prize breeds can cost more.
14. It costs approximately $70 a year to feed one chicken.
There are a lot of costs associated with owning chickens, from the purchase of the chicken and the cost of establishing a new coop to the ongoing cost of feeding them. You should expect to feed up to 120 grams of feed per day, costing a total of around $70 a year.
15. Owners are advised to provide at least 4-square metres of coop per bird.
Another common cost of owning chickens is the building and establishment of a coop for them to live in. Coops are important because they provide protection from weather and predators and somewhere for your hens to lay. Owners should provide at least 4-square metres of coop per bird.
Chicken Consumption in Australia
16. Australians consume more chicken than any other type of meat.
Chickens are not only popular as pets but are popular for their meat. In Australia, chicken has become the most popular of all meat types, with nearly half of all meat consumed being chicken. This means that Australians eat more chicken than both beef and lamb combined.
17. Australia has the fourth highest chicken consumption rate, per capita, by country.
(Australian Chicken Meat Federation)
While the country might not have the largest population of chickens by country, it does compete with most other nations for the amount of chicken eaten per capita. Malaysians eat the most chicken meat per capita, consuming 56.73 kilograms per person per year. The United States and Brazil have the next highest consumption rates at 51.24 and 47.63 kilograms, respectively. Australians consume 47.46 kilograms per person per year, which is the fourth-highest consumption rate of any country.
18. The cost of chicken meat has remained roughly stable in Australia.
(Australian Chicken Meat Federation)
Since 2013, the cost of pork, lamb, and beef has risen in Australia. Beef prices rose more than 25% between 2013 and 2017. However, chicken meat prices have remained roughly the same, costing 556 cents per kilogram in 2013 compared to 534 cents per kilogram in 2017, actually representing a slight drop.
19. Australia exports 40,000 tonnes of chicken meat per annum.
(Australian Chicken Meat Federation)
As well as rearing chickens for domestic consumption, Australia exports a large volume of chicken meat every year. In 2022, the country exported 40,000 tonnes of chicken meat with a value of $80 million. This is a fraction of the 4 million tonnes exported by Brazil.
Frequently Asked Questions About Chickens in Australia
Are chickens native to Australia?
Chickens were first introduced to Australia by the First Fleet in the late 18th century. They were brought over as a food source and have become popular ever since. It is believed that chickens first originated in Southeast Asia as Red Junglefowl before spreading across the world.
What is the most popular chicken in Australia?
The ISA Brown is one of, if not the most popular breed of chicken in Australia. They are considered a friendly breed that gets along with their human owners well and popular with first-time chicken owners. They are low maintenance and can adapt to most climates and conditions while being capable of laying 300 eggs or more each year. (Backyard Chicken Coops)
Are chickens easy to keep?
Keeping chickens is relatively easy, especially if you have plenty of garden space. You will need to provide a coop and nesting sites and ensure that the birds are fed regularly. You will also have to clean out the coop and ensure that the surrounding area is kept clean and free of potential pests, but if you get the right breed, chickens are hardy and easy to care for.
Chickens have become one of the country’s most popular types of pets, with around 4% of households owning some chickens. They are popular for their meat production and egg laying but have also proven popular as pets and for their companionship. An increase in their popularity over the past two or three years means that there are now approximately 100 million chickens in Australia, which means there are nearly four chickens for every person, which is roughly the same as the global population figures.
Featured Image Credit: Kishyru, Shutterstock