Chicken

10 Facts About Chickens

There's a lot more to chickens than being simple egg and meat suppliers 

15.8.2023

Did you know that chickens can see more colours than humans do? This is just one of many fascinating facts about these interesting, feathered animals. Highly intelligent and sociable, chickens are complex creatures and they have been part of human lives for many years. Here are 10 facts about these special birds that might surprise you.

  • Chickens love to play, run, skip and flap their wings. They also enjoy sunbathing.1
  • Hens teach sounds to their chicks while they are still in the egg.2
  • Chickens have a profound memory and are able to distinguish between more than 100 faces of their species. They can also recognise people.3
  • Chickens are able to distinguish colours. They also see ultraviolet light and iridescent hues. Their world looks more colourful than ours.4
  • Chickens demonstrate REM (Rapid Eye Movement) when sleeping. That means they are capable of dreaming, just like us human beings.5
  • Chickens can show empathy and hens can act as a ‘social buffer’ for their baby chicks.3,6
  • The cognitive skills of chickens are similarly high to those of a dog or cat.3
  • Chickens have pain receptors, which means that they are able to feel pain and suffering.7
  • They can taste salt but not perceive sweet tastes.8
  • Chickens understand that when an object is taken away and hidden, it still exists.3

 

Hen on green grass

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Source

1 Baxter M, Bailie CL, O’Connell NE. Play behaviour, fear responses and activity levels in commercial broiler chickens provided with preferred environmental enrichments. Animal. 2019;13(1):171–179. doi:10.1017/S1751731118001118   
Caughey M. How to Speak Chicken: Why Your Chickens Do What They Do & Say What They Say. Hachette UK; 2017.   
3 Marino L. Thinking chickens: a review of cognition, emotion, and behavior in the domestic chicken. Animal Cognition. 2017;20(2). doi:10.1007/s10071-016-1064-4
   
4 Seifert M, Baden T, Osorio D. The retinal basis of vision in chicken. Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology. 
2020;106:106–115. doi:10.1016/j.semcdb.2020.03.011   
Rattenborg NC, van der Meij J, Beckers GJL, Lesku JA. Local Aspects of Avian Non-REM and REM Sleep. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 2019;13:567. doi:10.3389/fnins.2019.00567   
6 Edgar JL, Lowe JC, Paul ES, Nicol CJ. Avian maternal response to chick distress. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 2011;278(1721):3129–3134. doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.2701
   
7 Gentle MJ. Pain in Birds. Animal Welfare. 1992;1(4):235–247. doi:10.1017/S0962728600015189
   
8 Yoshida Y, Nishimura S, Tabata S, Kawabata F. Chicken taste receptors and perception: recent advances in our understanding of poultry nutrient-sensing systems. World’s Poultry Science Journal. 2022;78(1):5–20. doi:10.1080/00439339.2022.2007437
 

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