Are chickens intelligent beings? Hens are often portrayed as idiotic, pooping and eating at will and often in the same place. Hens in literature are flighty and silly. Yet science offers a different perspective. Recent studies suggest that chickens are a whole lot smarter than they’re given credit for being.
These Are No Dumb Animals
Poultry are often considered inferior in the intelligence department, but Dr. Ian Duncan, Professor of Poultry Ethology at Ontario’s University of Guelph, disagrees. “These animals are poorly understood,” he’s quoted in an interview by United Poultry Concerns, Inc, “This is revealed by such behavioral indices as their complex social relationships, and their many different methods of communicating with each other, both visual and vocal. Chickens… are far more intelligent than generally regarded and possess underestimated cognitive complexity” (http://www.upc-online.org/thinking/sentient.html).
There’s Some Serious Communication Going on in the Coop
Dr. K-lynn Smith and Professor Chris Evans of Australia’s Macquarie University claim that not only are chickens intelligent and social, but they can also adjust what they “say” depending on who is listening (http://www.globalanimal.org/2011/03/23/cluck-you-chickens-arent-dumb/11446/). In an article published by Global Animal Magazine in 2011, Dr. Smith states that chickens who live in “an environment where they must compete for food, shelter, and mates can be as cunning as humans.” Clever chickens who can outsmart their fellow chickens have the best luck (aka the most food, best place to live, and the girl). Chickens are able to use sounds and gestures to communicate information about their environment. That is pretty smart!
Who Is Smarter, You Dog or Your Dinner?
In an amusingly titled article, “Was Your Meat Smarter Than Your Pet,” ABC NEWS presented some interesting studies on animal intelligence (http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/Science/story?id=771414&page=1#.UbPaIhPD_Y8). In an English study, a sheep was proved to be able to recognize human faces, a pig was taught to use a computer, and chickens easily learned how to adjust the thermostat in their coop.
Chickens, it turns out, are a whole lot more complex and intelligent then they are commonly believed to be. This may give you a new perspective when it comes to your personal flock. Do you think your birds are intelligent beings?