Chickens feel empathy for each other. Researchers proved that domesticated hens show a clear physiological and behavioural response when their chicks are mildly distressed.
Amazing Facts About the Chicken (Domesticated)
- Scientists have shown that mother hens display signs of empathy for their baby chicks.
- Chickens are able to remember and recognise over 100 individuals; they can also recognise humans.
- Like other birds and mammals, chickens experience REM sleep, which is associated with dreaming.
- Chickens have very sophisticated social behaviour with a dominance hierarchy where higher individuals dominate subordinate individuals. This is where the term “pecking order” comes from!
- The dominant male (cockerel) protects the females (hens) and they choose to feed close to him for safety.
- Chickens perform complex communication where calls have specific meanings. They perform over 30 types of vocalisation that we are aware of with meanings varying from calling youngsters, alarm calls, and alerting others to the whereabouts of food.
- Chickens can’t taste sweetness in foods however they can detect salt, and most choose to avoid it.
- The chicken is the closest living relative to the great Tyrannosaurus-Rex.
- Chickens have different alarm calls for specific types of predators, which allow conspecifics to know the type of threat they face and what sort of anti-predation behaviour to perform.
Chickens and Humans
- Domesticated chickens have been bred by humans from Asian jungle fowl.
- Chickens are able to understand that when an object is taken away and hidden from them, it still exists. Young human children are unable to understand this.
- Hens are extremely affectionate and caring mothers. In Christian writings, Jesus is said to have used the love of a hen for her brood to express God’s love for humans. In Ancient Rome, saying ‘you were raised by a hen’ was a compliment.
- The meat and eggs of chickens are widely eaten by people across the world. OneKind and other animal welfare charities are working to ensure that these animals have better lives and are looked after properly on farms.
- Type: Bird (Aves)
- Diet: Herbivore and insectivore
- Lifespan: Up to 10 years
- Size: Up to 70cm in length (Males are bigger than females)
- Weight: Around 2.5kg (Males are heavier than females)
- Habitat: Forests and pastureland
- Range: Native to Southern Asia, with domesticated species common globally.
- Scientific name: Gallus domesticus for domesticated chicken and Gallus gallus for Red Junglefowl from which domesticated chickens were bred.