This past weekend I got to learn some facts about chickens while visiting a new friend who loves birds. You should follow her on Instagram. Along with her son, she taught us so much about chickens! It was a wonderful experience and now we’re considering getting chickens ourselves. They are cute, smart and so much fun to cuddle!
1. Chickens Love Red and Hate Purple
Unlike dogs and other popular pets, chickens can see all the colors that we do. They are attracted to the color red – which can be positive and negative. When chickens fight, they go for each others red bits and they will follow/peck humans wearing red. To avoid a chicken getting picked on, people will often use sprays that dye them purple. Other chickens will avoid all things purple – which almost offends me, because purple is my favorite color. They also like sparkly things such as rings and will peck at those too. Luckily my peridot and tiny diamonds survived two hours spent with chickens!
2. Hens Can Eject Sperm
Hens know what they are worth. If they don’t like a rooster, they will simply eject his sperm to halt the fertilization process. Unfortunately, this is possible because hens don’t have much choice if a rooster wants to mate. Unlike many other species, chickens do not mate for life and are often described as being “rather promiscuous.”
3. Chickens Bathe in Dust, not Water
Chickens like to stay hydrated but they don’t enjoy bathing in water. dust bathing serves a dual purpose of controlling external parasites and conditioning a chicken’s feathers. They also love to dig holes in sand and sit in them to cool down on hot days. However…
4. Chickens Can Swim
Other than the sperm ejection, this must be one of the strangest facts about chickens. Not only can all chickens swim, many enjoy it. However, they are not experts and need to be able to get out easily to avoid puddles. So you won’t see them doing the breaststroke in the ocean, but they may splash around a kiddie pool.
5. Eggs: Facts About Chickens
Although a rooster is needed in order for a hen’s eggs to hatch, a rooster is not needed in order for the hen to lay eggs. So yes, eggs are basically a chicken’s period. Eating eggs can be controversial in certain cultures that believe that life begins at conception. However, since a rooster is needed to fertilize an egg, many of these eggs are not destined to hatch which, is why some vegans will eat eggs in certain situations – like if they have chickens or know people who do.
6. Domesticating Chickens for Food Goes Way WAY Back
Chickens were domesticated in Southern China around 8,000 years ago in 6000 B.C. Today, more chickens are raised and killed for food than all other land animals combined. McDonald’s alone kills hundreds of millions of chickens each year for its U.S. restaurants.
6. Chickens Recognize 100 Faces
Chickens can distinguish between more than 100 faces of their own species. They can also recognize humans that they live with and they have preferences. Just like people, two chickens may be friends and then cease to get along. Some chickens will only trust certain humans and are super picky.
7. Chickens Are Chatty
Chickens have more than 30 types of vocalizations to distinguish between threats. They can communicate effectively and basically have their own language. Animal experts consider their communication skills to be quite sophisticated. You can read more about it here.
8. Omnivorous Birds
Chickens are omnivores. They’ll eat seeds and insects but also larger prey like small mice and lizards. They’ll even eat… well… chicken. They are definitely not picky eaters in general. A well-known ballpark figure to estimate how much a chicken eats is 1/4 pound of feed per chicken per day, or, 1.5 pounds of feed per chicken per week. However, some people will feed chickens more. Birds that are caged, kept in a small run or are fed the incorrect diet are the most at risk of becoming overweight. Fat hens don’t lay eggs, are prone to heat stroke, fatty liver syndrome and can have reproduction problems.
9. A Chicken’s Palette is Limited
Chickens can taste saltiness, but not sweetness. Chickens have some taste buds, but they are located in the back of their mouth. So, before they can taste something they’ve already committed to swallowing it. Unfortunately studies on the chicken sense of smell and taste are scarce.
Chickens have complex negative and positive emotions, as well as a shared psychology with humans and other complex animals. They exhibit emotional contagion and evidence for empathy. Anyone who owns chickens will slap their foreheads and yell “duh!” Chickens are loving pets that enjoy human interaction and cuddles, especially with their favorite humans.
Summary: Facts About Chickens
Sure, you could have gone on living life without knowing these facts about chickens. But your life would simply not be complete! Next time you’re near a farm, ask to stop by and meet the chickens. They are amazing, furry creatures that will bring a smile to your face. They may even bring you luck! Right after we hung out with real chickens, we found 16 pounds of chicken of the woods mushrooms! Even if you fail at having them sit on your head and get wing-slapped instead. If you’re looking for a cruelty-free alternative to chicken nuggets, check out NUGGS 2.0.
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I happen to sell a few varieties of chicken earrings on Everyfelt. Check them out here. Plus I now have an earring subscription box, Monthly Earring Mania: Earrings by Everyfelt, for those of you who want to get a random (sometimes holiday-themed) two pairs of earrings every month for just $10/month if you pay for the year.