Did you know that chickens are quite intelligent? The very idea that chickens can actually count and do simple math is puzzling to most people. But, they are actually very smart and can even be cunning in how they react to other chickens, and other humans. Chickens have abilities that compare to a human toddler.Some facts about chickens. Chickens have some degree of self control, and can be quite sneaky. They can actually learn to refuse food, if they knew they’d get more later. As humans, we can recognize thousands of different people. Did you know that chickens can recognize about 100 different individual chickens? They can also recognize different humans. So, they can recognize Michelle coming to feed them, and they can also recognize the volunteers as well! There is an interesting concept that if you show a chicken an object, then take it away, the chicken will actually look for the item as to where you have put it. Baby humans are not able to do this until they’re a bit older.
Chickens can count! They can actually do basic math as objects in front of them are moved. Hens can count to at least six. Even chicks can do basic math. If you shuffle five items in a game, they mentally keep track of the items and choose the area with the higher amount of items. Chickens can do this better than toddlers!
Chickens can multitask. They use one eye to forage for food and the other to look out for predators. They are social animals, and it has been shown that they recover from stress quicker when in the company of other chickens. Also, they can share precise information about the location of food and presence of predators by using different sounds and calls. Ever wonder what the chickens at A Home for Hooves are saying? It’s pretty interesting to know that they are communicating with each other and socializing. They will even change behavior depending on who is around them. Chickens have over 24 types of ways to vocally communicate. They use different vocal sounds for things like an incoming predator or to communicate to stick together. They also can show empathy, they do this by an ability to be protective of their chicks and even the chicks of others!
I mentioned earlier that chickens can be sneaky. They can show Machiavellian manipulation. Machiavellianism in psychology refers to a personality trait when someone is so focused on their own interests, they will manipulate, deceive and exploit others to achieve their goals. So, chickens use this behavior to get what they want. For instance, my example of refusing food, knowing that if they did, they would get a larger amount of food later.
Chickens have a complex nervous system and are sensitive to pain, pressure and temperature. It has also been discovered that chickens can see a broader range of colours than humans.
In relaxed situations, like a Home for Hooves, chickens show a range of behaviors and emotions. They like to play games like hide and seek. Did you know, that by stroking a chicken, it can actually start purring like a cat. Ask Michelle at a Home for Hooves to show you!
So, I’ve personally learned a lot by researching this topic and writing about it. I had no clue how intelligent chickens are and they have feelings, emotions and traits similar to humans, and can actually perform tasks.
Next time you think a chicken is “stupid” – think again!
Author - Alex Singleton