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Amazing facts about chickens

I’m actually a chicken. What’s your excuse?

Chickens dream. Chickens play. Chickens experience empathy. Chickens recognize their owners. Chickens are also one of the most abused animals on the planet.

We can’t ignore the facts. More chickens are killed for food than all other land animals combined. In the US alone, about 9 billion chickens are killed each year for their flesh. 305 million hens are used for their eggs. And the vast majority spend their lives in confinement—from the moment they hatch until the day they’re killed.

It’s fowl play at its finest.  

Especially given the fact that anyone who has spent time around chickens knows that they are inquisitive, interesting animals.

Prove it, you say?

  • Chickens help each other out.
    • Growing up, your parents probably said, “Don’t stick a fork in the toaster.” So, you didn’t stick a fork in the toaster. (But, let’s be honest, you probably used a wooden spoon at least once.) Research shows that chickens also pass down knowledge from generation to generation. In one study, chickens were fed a mixture of yellow and blue corn kernels. The blue kernels contained chemicals, which the chickens learned to avoid. When these hens hatched chicks, yellow and blue corn was spread around the farm, and the hens carefully steered their young away from it. Kernels, toasters, we all live and we learn.

  • Chickens are individuals.
    • Chickens all have different personalities. Some are vivacious and confident, while others are more introverted and observant; some enjoy human company, while others are standoffish. Just like dogs, cats, and humans, each chicken is an individual with a distinct personality.
  • Chickens are social.
    • Chickens prefer to stick together and are highly social creatures. In fact, to maintain a sense of communal structure, chickens follow what’s called a “pecking order.” That is, a complex status-based social hierarchy. (Think: Gossip Girl. But with chickens.)

  • Chickens are probably smarter than us.
    • Well, not really, but, when it comes to intelligence, chickens may be on par with dogs, chimpanzees, elephants, and dolphins. According to a paper authored by neuroscientist Lori Marino, chickens possess an understanding of numbers and basic arithmetic, and have the capacity to reason and make logical inferences. They are capable of simple forms of deductive reasoning, which humans don’t develop until around seven. Chickens even have an understanding of time and appear able to anticipate future events.
  • Chickens aren’t that different than us.
    • 60% of chicken genes have an analog in the human genetic code. Although humans have more DNA than chickens do, both species have about the same amount of genes, and the basic structure and function of certain kinds of chicken cells closely mirrors ours. So, if you’ve read any of the other posts in this series, you’ll notice some emerging themes here: We’re not all that different.


Wear your heart on your chest,
and check out The Vegan Age chicken collection.