Facts About Chickens – You Will Be Lovin’ It!
Before I owned my own chicken flock, I didn’t know much about chickens. Like most humans, I thought chickens were dumb birds that were part of the human food chain—Boy, was I wrong! Chickens are incredibly intelligent and interesting.
Chickens know things I never believed they could. They learn, and chickens teach each other about things that can cause pain, how to overcome obstacles, and how to live together as a family.
Here are a few interesting facts about chickens that will teach you to look at chickens in a whole new light.
Interesting Facts About Chickens
The bird species Gallus domesticus, aka the domesticated chicken, first appeared in history 8,000 years ago. Humans have used chickens as pets, food, and even for their feathers for centuries.
Chicken keepers will reveal that chickens are easy to keep, don’t require much feed, and stick around without needing to enclose or fence them (other than to keep predators away).
Some other interesting facts about chickens include the following:
- A chicken can’t sweat. Chickens don’t sweat through their skin, relying on the cooling of capillaries under the skin by flapping their wings.
- The most eggs laid by a hen is 371 in a year. Hens can lay more than one egg in a day, with the record at seven eggs in one day.
- A chicken can live 5-8 years. The oldest chicken is recorded as reaching 20 years.
There Are More Than 33 Billion Chickens in the World (FAO)
As of 2023, there are roughly 34.4 billion chickens worldwide, according to FAO statistics. According to Statista, there were 25.8 billion chickens worldwide in 2021. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN recored the number as higher, with a global population of over 33 billion chickens in 2020.
Chickens Fulfill the Global Demand for Animal-Source Food (FAO)
Humans have been eating chickens for many centuries as food.
Over 9 billion chickens were slaughtered for meat in 2021 (more chickens than previously) to satisfy the growing demand for animal-based protein foods that are affordable and cheaper to produce or raise than beef or sheep.
In addition to the chickens slaughtered for meat, chickens are kept to produce eggs, with the US consuming 111 billion eggs yearly.
Chickens Are Extremely Adorable and Smart Creatures (PETA)
Chickens make great pets, and chicken keepers insist that chickens are trainable and make great house pets, too.
In the chicken flock, a pecking order establishes dominance between birds. Different hens start eating first, depending on where they rank in the pecking order.
Chickens Are Not Colorblind (PETA)
Your chicken may see better than humans and some other animals. Studies have found that chickens have five different kinds of light receptors, which help chickens see and distinguish color and clarity.
Chickens Love to Take a Sunbath (PETA)
Like many animals, chickens love to lay in the sun, bathing in the heat, dirt, and light. Ultraviolet light rays can help chickens form vitamin D, which is essential for good bone health.
Chickens Bathe by Covering Their Bodies in the Sand (the Happy Chicken Coop)
Chickens love to bathe by digging their bodies into the dirt. Specific dirt spots will become communal dust bathing spots where they can fluff their feathers and manage pests like fleas and mites. Different types of dirt contain unique minerals that repel insects.
Chickens Experience Rapid Eye Movement (REM) When They Sleep (PETA)
According to PETA, chickens dream and experience rapid eye movement, where their eyes flutter rapidly from side to side when sleeping.
This sleep phase of dreaming is associated with unihemispheric slow-wave sleep, and it is something that indicates conscious thought among animals.
Humans experience rapid eye movement, too, when we sleep. Rapid eye movement indicates sleep and the ability to dream.
Chickens Can Experience Pain and Distress Via Pain Receptors (PETA)
Scientists have also found that chickens have emotions, displaying a range of feelings; we can distinguish from joy to sorrow and even empathy. It is reported that chickens feel pain and each other’s anxiety, indicating self-awareness.
Chickens Have More Than 30 Types of Vocalizations (PETA)
PETA found that chickens have the ability to distinguish and make different sounds, body language cues, and other signs to communicate with each other and warn off other chickens or predators.
When a chicken storms at you or predators in warning to protect her young, it’s not hard to see a tyrannosaurus rex (all feathered) coming at you.
Chickens use vocalizations to indicate when they feel pain, and chickens teach their young with sounds and squawks, much like other animals.
Chicken Moms Are Just Like Human Moms (PETA)
Some chickens will happily adopt orphaned chicks, indicating mother instinct, just like human moms. Like human mothers, a hen will protect her young from predators, and she will also spend time teaching them about life.
The hens will feel like they have to take care of their young, which is a feeling shared by all mothers.