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Are Chickens Smart? When you consider the many different creatures in nature, the chicken may not top your list as being the most intelligent. However, research has demonstrated that chickens may be fairly smart all things considered. While most chickens live on farms or in chicken pens that are limiting in terms of their environment, they are granted with intelligence that goes beyond the first impressions of many people.
Although the size of the chicken’s brain is quite small, they can remember and respond to people they have known even if they have not seen them for months at a time. While it’s understandable that chicks would recognize their mothers, the discovery that chickens can remember people is quite remarkable. Their memory is most often demonstrated by the fabled “pecking order” where the rooster rules the roost and the rest of the hens have their order of importance.
It appears that like many birds, chickens learn by visual observation. For example, hens that are new to the pen will pick up on the routine by looking and learning what to do. It doesn’t take long for them to understand and fit in to the order established by the roost. This means they understand what type of food to eat and other skills that can be learned by looking at what other chickens do.
You may have noticed that chicks respond to their mothers call by pecking at the ground for food. One study demonstrated that hens who saw their chicks pecking at the wrong type of food were given verbal warnings that something was not right. Hens can also call their chicks to them when they perceive danger and have them shelter under her wings.
Chickens have an innate sense of the passage of time and even use the sun as a compass to let them know the best time to forage for food. Study groups of chickens that were given food at a set time waited patiently until that time arrived and then pecked in anticipation once that time had passed.
The various clucks you hear are not random sounds that a chicken makes. They carry at least 24 different meanings depending on how they are vocalized. Even chicks that have yet to hatch communicate with their mothers by telling them when they are cold or comfortably warm. When they hatch, they are familiar with their mother’s voice and can tell them from the other chickens.
Even young chicks can problem-solve simple problems such as locating food in a particular place. Studies have shown that chicks can identify shapes and locations and remember their importance. In addition, chickens have shown the ability to understand basic geometry when chasing one of their favorite foods, grasshoppers. When a grasshopper leaps, the chicken will go to the place where they are landing and try to catch them rather than following them in the air.
Are Chickens Smart?
Research has shown that chickens are a lot smarter than many people give them credit. Their intelligence has been developed over the passage of time as they have learned to survive and avoid predators.