Since they were first domesticated, nearly 10,000 years ago, in South and Southeast Asia, chickens have accompanied human beings everywhere on the planet. When the early European settlers arrived in the Americas, they unloaded crates of chickens - no doubt squawking in protest - from their crowded, stinking ships. For the next several hundred years, chickens chased bugs and scratched in the dust in farmyards and backyards all over the country.

Technological advances and shifting demographics in first half of the 20th century changed that - the production of chickens for meat and eggs was industrialized, and the backyard chicken in the United States all but disappeared.

Introduction, page 1