Jo is our smallest hen. She was a straight-run chick so we had to wait until she began maturing before finding out whether she was a rooster or hen. A beautiful, multi-color, Easter-Egger, she began laying small white eggs and our questions ceased. After only a month of laying she suddenly stopped. That change coincided with the loss of some of her long, black tail feathers in a round patch on her back; it revealed bare skin and an apparent increase in her stress level.
I knew chickens establish a hierarchy of dominance, but wasn't aware of how it was functioning in our coop. Obviously, big, red Lucy "ruled the roost".
As the other chickens backed away quickly, frustrated and flustered, it was apparent that Lucy had "ruffled their feathers" and "got their hackles up".
There are many other phrases we use to describe ourselves. Chickens prefer light spaces and familiar areas to sleep. When the sun goes down they’re “chicken” about the dark as they enter the coop and "come home to roost". That being said, they don't like being "cooped up" for long periods of time and often will "fly the coop" if given the chance.
It wasn't long before her tail feathers began to disappear again along with a regular supply of little white eggs. We were left with an "empty nest" with those eggs gone.
All of these phrases have obvious origins. And their transference to human actions are easily understood. When you see the bare dirt of a chicken run it's easy to understand why bad handwriting looks like "chicken scratch". Chickens are relatively inexpensive to raise; after all, the cost of their food is just "chicken feed".
We don't have a rooster so we don't have to worry about "counting our chickens before they hatch". We use the eggs regularly so we know that "you have to break eggs to make an omelet". And we know that a "good egg" is home-raised.
Many other animal actions have factored into human speech, but I have to believe that chickens have had the most impact. I can think of no other animal that formed the basis of so many common English phrases. Obviously with that much influence, chickens "have something to crow about".