10 Fascinating Facts About Chickens
Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 Favorite. It was originally published on August 12, 2013. Enjoy.
In the United States alone, more than 8.5 billion chickens are killed every year. That’s 272 every second!
Those numbers are pretty crazy, right? When I actually sat down to figure it all out, I literally couldn’t get my head around all those zeros.
Every single one of those chickens is a unique individual that has so much more to offer the world than ending up on someone’s dinner plate. Don’t believe me? Check out these incredible and fascinating facts about chickens:
1. Chickens slurp grass like spaghetti.
When living in their natural environment, chickens will spend the day foraging for bugs and slurping down fresh blades of grass.
2. Chickens LOVE dust baths.
It may not sound very appealing to you, but chickens take so much pleasure in digging a shallow pit in the dirt, spreading their wings and rolling around in it. Dust baths help chickens maintain proper feather insulation and ward off parasites.
I’ve known chickens that have spent their entire life cooped up in a cage but when given the chance to be free, one of the first things they ever did was give themselves a dust bath.
3. Chickens have complex communication with specific meanings.
When you spend enough time around chickens, you’ll start to understand their different vocalizations, from calling their youngsters to alerting others of the whereabouts of food.
4. Chickens like to play.
When given enough space, chickens will run, jump and even sunbathe. Unfortunately, around 95 percent of chickens raised in the U.S. spend their entire lives in cages no bigger than an iPad.
5. Chickens talk to their unborn babies.
In a natural setting, a mother hen will cluck to her chicks before they have even hatched. The chicks will respond by chirping to her and to each other through their shells. In factory farms, a chick will never get to meet his or her parents because they are taken away as soon as they are laid and placed in large incubators.
6. Chickens are a lot more clever than you think.
Recent studies have shown that chickens are intelligent animals with many attributes akin to those of primates. They are able to solve complex problems, understand cause and effect, pass on knowledge, demonstrate self control and worry about the future.
7. Chickens are technically dinosaurs.
Chickens evolved from dinosaurs and are the closest living relative to the magnificent T. rex. Research has also proven that they are, in fact, living dinosaurs.
8. Chickens place great importance on building a private nest.
Chickens start by scratching a shallow bed in the ground. Then, they carry twigs and leaves on their backs, letting the material slide off before building up the rim of the nest. Chickens will even go without food and water in favor of creating a private nest safe from predators.
9. Chickens have excellent memories.
They are able to recognize and remember more than 100 different individuals, including humans.
10. Chickens can comprehend object permanence.
Even when an object has been removed and hidden, chickens are able to comprehend that it still exists. Not many animals have this ability, and neither do young human children.
Photo Credit: Remy Baudouin/Unsplash