When living in their natural environment, chickens will spend the day foraging for bugs and slurping down fresh blades of grass.
According to scientists, “Pecking is a precise, high-tech activity,” requiring good coordination with the eye. In natural conditions chickens spend between half and 90% of their time foraging, making up to 15,000 pecks a day.
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. Even the chickens that have spent their entire life cooped up in a cage, when given the chance to be free, one of the first things they do is 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 many different vocalizations, from calling their youngsters to alerting others of the whereabouts of food.
Chickens have different alarm calls for specific types of predators, which allow conspecifics to know the type of threat they face and what sort of anti-predation behaviour to perform.
When given enough space, chickens will run, jump, dust bathe and even sunbathe. Unfortunately, in almost all cases, farm chickens spend their entire life in small cages no bigger than the size of a iPad.
In a natural setting, a mother hen will cluck to her chicks before they have even hatched and they will churp back 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 from her 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 that 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
Research has proven that not only have chickens evolved from dinosaurs and are the closest living relative to the magnificent T. rex, they are in fact living dinosaurs.
8. Chickens place great importance on building a private nest
They start by scratching a shallow bed in the ground, then carry twigs and leaves to their nest on their backs where they let the material slide off and build up around the rim. They will even go without food and water in favor of creating a private nest safe from predators.
They are able to recognize and remember more than 100 different individuals, including humans.
When in their natural surroundings, not confined to factory farms, chickens form complex social hierarchies, also known as “pecking orders,” and every chicken knows his or her place on the social ladder, remembering the faces and ranks of more than 100 other birds. Scientists agree that chickens’ complex social structures and good memories are undeniable signs of advanced intelligence comparable to that of mammals.
10. Chickens are able to comprehend object permanence
Even when an object is taken away from them and hidden, chickens are able to comprehend that it still exists. Not many animals have the ability to do this, and neither do young human children.