8 facts that will make you look at chickens like you never had before


Most people unfortunately never have the chance to get to know a chicken. But those who do invariably fall in love with these unique individuals. Here are a few reasons why...

LAST UPDATED: 18 November 2020

Most of those who have been lucky enough to adopt a chicken have a tendency to fall comb-over-claw for them, and if you ever have the good fortune to get to know one yourself, you'll understand why...

They feel empathy.

Researchers have shown that when a hen's chicks become distressed — she does, too! Her heart starts beating faster and she'll increase vocalisations to her little ones.

They dream.
Photo: Two rescued battery hens rest peacefully in the sunshine for the first time. Courtesy: Brightside Farm Sanctuary

Ever dreamt you could fly? It probably would have happened during REM sleep, which is associated with dreaming. Birds experience REM too ... One can only imagine the kind of dreams they must be having!

They're all individuals (just like us).

Some of us like finding a quiet corner to read, others want to be the life of the party — and chickens are the same (minus the book and the DJ). Every hen has her own likes and dislikes, and favourite things to do in her spare time. There are of course, the simple pleasures in life that they all enjoy sharing — like sunshine, fresh air and a warm and comfy place to sleep.

Chickens are behaviourally sophisticated, discriminating among individuals, exhibiting Machiavellian-like social interactions, and learning socially in complex ways that are similar to humans.Lori Marino, Neuroscientist
They're super smart.

A recent study has shown that chickens are intelligent and emotional animals, and are able to "demonstrate thinking skills on par with mammals and primates". If you hide an object from a chicken, they will still know it's there — this is something even young human kids aren't able to do.

As a trick at conferences I sometimes list {their} attributes, without mentioning chickens, and people think I'm talking about monkeys.Dr Chris Evans, Professor of Psychology, Macquaries University, Australia
They nail the art of nurturing.

You don't get much more motherly than a hen — she's a warm, cuddly bundle of love when it comes to her chicks. While she can't spit on a tissue to wipe the dirt off their cheeks — she will fuss over them like there's no tomorrow, keeping them protected from anything that they're too little to defend themselves against, like predators or the cold. She'll home school them, too — teaching them the ways of chickenhood so they'll be as wise as she is when they grow up.

They've got the gift of the gab.

We hear cluck, begerk and bokbok — but there's a lot more to it than that. Chickens are effectively talking to each other in a language we may never understand. Chickens make distinct sounds that could mean anything from 'OMG guys I found some food' to 'Hey kids, get back here where I can see you'. Cute fact: a mother hen will start communicating with her chicks while they're still in the egg — this way, when they hatch, they'll already recognise her voice.

They're nosey (in a good way).

A chicken's beak isn't just designed to collect food and water, and chat with friends. It's full of sensory receptors and nerves that enable them to distinguish between types of food, and interact with the world around them. This, coupled with their natural curiosity, means chickens LOVE to explore and try new experiences.

They just want to be themselves.

One thing every person lucky enough to know chickens knows to be true — is that these animals just love being themselves. But tragically, millions of these sensitive and intelligent animals are never given the chance to know even the most basic joys, hidden away behind the closed doors of factory farms. Thankfully, you don't have to adopt a chicken (although you probably are thinking about it right now, right?) to be kind to them.


Seeing chickens a little differently now?

If you think these lovely birds deserve a better life than the experience they're living on factory farms, just remember: You can help free all animals from factory farms!

The simplest way to take a stand against factory farming cruelty is to stop buying or eating factory farmed products. And the great news is that choosing to live compassionately couldn't be easier. Simply by making informed, every-day choices to live kindly, you have the power to make a lifetime of positive difference to animals everywhere.

Order your FREE Veg Starter kit!

Love animals? Subscribe and help end animal abuse:
I've read and accept the privacy policy
Like Animals Australia On Facebook
The sun on their faces. The grass under their feet. A spring in their step. All animals deserve freedom. Watch the heartwarming video now. Watch the heart-warming video » »

Our appetite for beef, dairy and fish is wiping out wild animals, and even threatening our own survival. Discover why » »

Love a documentary that opens your eyes and expands your mind? These are definitely for you ... Expand your mind » »

What began as a basic love for animals led Ian to find a passion for rescuing roos and other beloved Aussie natives. Read more » »

What contributes more to climate change than all the world’s planes, trains and automobiles combined? Hint: it’s not coal and it’s not good for humanity! Read more » »

Investigations have revealed widespread puppy factory cruelty in Australia. Discover the truth, and what you can do to help. Read more » »

Despite the nightly news doing its best to depress, from Australia to Brazil, China to Norway, there is one trait that unites humankind all over the world — kindness. Read on to discover some of the best animal... Be inspired » »

Lyn White, Campaign Director at Animals Australia, spoke to audiences across the country — and asked one simple question: 'Does history have to repeat itself or is it possible to have a kinder, more peace... Watch now » »

We all know that eating vegan is better for your health, animals and the planet. But sometimes you just want a big bowl of the hearty, familiar foods you know and love. These recipes are for you. Dig in » »

For the first time, an Australian organisation has been selected as a “standout charity” by U.S.-based Animal Charity Evaluators! Animals Australia has been awarded this evaluation in recognition of our efforts... Read more » »