Did you know that chickens can lay eggs without a rooster around? In fact, almost all eggs in grocery stores come from chickens who don’t have a rooster. There are lots of fun facts about these farm animals that kids will love to learn. In this article, we’ll discuss 50 fascinating facts about chickens. Excited to get started? Let’s begin!
The first thing that you must know about chickens is that they’re social birds. Unlike larger birds like eagles and albatrosses that prefer to live on their own most of the time, the chickens enjoy company at all times.
2. Humans domesticated chickens 8000 years ago
Humans have been relying on domestic animals since the inception of time, with chickens being one of the oldest birds to have been domesticated by us. There is enough evidence to support that chickens were domesticated in civilization in South-Eastern Asia, which was as old as 6000 BC!
3. The motivation behind the domestication of chickens was not meat!
Today, the most popular uses of chickens include their eggs, meat, and companionship. And it makes sense to assume that our forefathers might’ve domesticated them for the same reasons. But that’s not actually what happened.
Let’s just say that our forefathers had a different lifestyle and mindset than us and had domesticated these birdies not for food or companionship but for mere entertainment. They didn’t eat chickens back then but would indulge them in cockfights instead.
4. Chickens can eat just about anything
One of the reasons why there’s no shortage of chickens in the world is that these fowl birds are generalist feeders and will eat anything from meat to grains, fruits, and veggies, to table scraps. They’re the kind that never says no to food!
5. Chickens eat stones and rocks, but not as food
Have you ever caught a chicken pecking on stones and pebbles and found it strange? Well, rest assured that these birdies don’t see them as food and are ingesting them for a whole other reason.
Because chickens don’t possess teeth like us, they need a way to break down the food they consume for digestion. The stones, rocks, or pebbles that these birds intake are called grit and serve that function for them.
6. Chickens aren’t truly flightless birds
Because chickens don’t fly high in the sky like many other birds, some people tend to believe they’re flightless. But this assumption is incorrect.
In reality, chickens belong to the Pheasant family, which includes near-flightless birds, with emphasis on the term near.
So, while they can’t fly high continually, they do have bursts of flight, during which they reach the height of about ten feet and can cross a distance of 40-50 feet on average.
7. Chickens are swift runners
We just learned that while chickens might fly, their flight is not that impressive. So, what other means of transport and escape do these birdies possess? Running is the answer!
Chickens might be okayish fliers, but they’re skilled runners. They can run at the average speed of 9 mph, which is quite impressive for someone their size.
8. Chickens are lovers of music
Who doesn’t love music? It’s the best medicine in the world, and chickens agree. These fowl birds are quite fond of music and enjoy listening to all music unless it’s too loud or has too many beats.
In fact, their love for music has visible consequences as well. Several studies and research have indicated that the chickens that listen to classical music tend to lay more eggs!
9. Chickens have their own complex language
If you’ve ever kept chickens or know someone who did, they’d tell you that these fowl birds are rather noisy; the roosters even more so than hens. But did you know that the noises they make could have meanings? Because they do.
Chickens are smart birds with a highly complex language of their own. Their language is quite diverse and has over 30 different kinds of sounds, with unique meanings attributed to all of them. In fact, they start learning this language from within the egg itself.
10. Chickens have a 300-degree vision
With our eyes placed in front of our heads, we humans possess a 180-degree vision only. Chickens are superior to us in this sense. Having eyes placed at the side of their heads, these birdies can cover a vision range of 300-degree without having to move their heads
11. Chickens see a more colorful world than humans
While humans possess only three kinds of cone cells – red, green, and blue – the chickens are ahead of us and possess four!
In addition to red, green, and blue, they also possess violet cone cells. In other words, it means that the world appears more colorful to their eyes than it does to ours!
12. Chickens possess three eyelids!
If you’ve ever seen a chicken, you must already have noticed how they have two eyelids on each eye (an upper and a lower eyelid). What might come as a surprise to you is the fact that they have a third eyelid as well, which is called the nictitating membrane.
But what do they need this eyelid for? Well, this translucent eyelid helps them protect their eyes against dirt and debris. Because chickens don’t have hands to manually remove any dirt that enters their eyes, the nictitating membrane does it for them.
Besides chickens, several other birds possess three eyelids as well.
While we close our upper eyelids briefly while blinking, the process of blinking is quite different for the chickens.
They are not capable of opening and shutting their upper and lower eyelids as quickly as we can. That’s why only their third membrane moves while blinking, also cleaning their eyes in the process.
14. Chickens can sense light with their pineal gland
The chickens possess a pineal gland inside their brains that can sense light in their outside environment. For this reason, even a blind chicken would be able to tell whether it’s day or night!
15. Chickens can use each of their eyes independently
The last oddity about chickens’ eyes is that they’re capable of moving both eyes independently. This means that they can assign different tasks to different eyes at the same time. If only we could do the same, think of all the time we could’ve saved!
16. Chickens have only three taste receptors
You must be familiar with how we possess five taste receptors on our tongues to taste five different tastes – sweet, savory, bitter, salty, and sour. Your fowl friends have taste receptors as well, just not as many as yours.
Chickens only have three taste receptors and can taste salty, bitter, and sour things, but not sweet or savory.
17. Chickens’ combs are their cooling systems
Don’t the bright, red combs of chickens look majestic, resting on their heads like a fleshy crown? Well, these combs aren’t merely ornamental but serve a practical purpose as well.
The combs of chickens are made up of collagen fibers to help regulate their body temperature during the summer months.
18. Chickens were the first livestock animal to undergo gene sequencing
Are you aware of what gene sequencing is? Also referred to as genomic sequencing, it is a laboratory method by which an organism’s entire genetic makeup is determined.
Chickens were both the first birds as well as the first livestock animals to have undergone this process, which is kind of a big deal.
19. Hens need to eat A LOT in order to lay eggs
Just as women eat for two when they’re pregnant, egg-laying hens need to load up on food as well. For every dozen of eggs that they lay, they need to eat 4 pounds of food!
20. The size of chickens’ eggs grows larger as they age
Age is an important factor in the reproduction of all living beings, including chickens. Among the chickens, as they grow older, they lay larger eggs.
On the downside, the number of eggs they lay decreases gradually with age, too. In other words, older chickens lay larger but fewer eggs.
21. Not all chicken eggs have a single yolk
Suppose you’re waiting for breakfast, and the omelet Mom serves you happens to have two yolks instead of one. Wouldn’t that blow your mind? Well, as bizarre as it might sound, two-yolked chicken eggs do exist.
These eggs are generally laid by young chickens that have started laying eggs recently. Because their reproductive systems are still adjusting to egg-laying, they might release two yolks in place of one.
Older chickens that are nearing the end of their egg-laying period can also lay double-yolked eggs.
22. Chickens have a higher body water percentage than us!
We all know that about 60% of the human body is made of water. And while it might sound like a lot to you, in comparison to the chickens, we still fall short. These peckers have over 70% of water in their bodies!
23. Chickens can shed their feathers when stressed
Just as stress can disrupt our mental peace and affect our physical well-being, it does the same for chickens. In fact, these birdies suffer from more severe consequences of stress, such as disruption in their egg-laying cycle and feather loss.
Stress often triggers in chickens a mini molt where they start to lose their feathers gradually. In fact, it is one of the leading causes of feather loss in them.
24. A beheaded chicken doesn’t die immediately
While it would be impossible for a beheaded man to walk around, a beheaded chicken can do it. Well, not indefinitely, but for as long as 15 minutes.
Doesn’t this sound like a miracle to you? Well, it isn’t. This is because while their brain has been disconnected from their bodies, their spinal cord circuits still have a bit of oxygen remaining, which is how their neurons can trigger walking or running in some cases.
There’s even a popular real story of Mike, the headless chicken who lived on for 18 months without a head!
25. Chickens are the closest living relatives of dinosaurs
We all know that dinosaurs were a large group of gigantic reptiles that walked the Earth nearly 250 million years ago. We also know that some of the animals in our current world – like whales, sharks, snakes, and so on – have continued to exist from that age to this.
But did you know that some animals have also evolved from dinosaurs? Because the chickens have. In research, the DNA of the dinosaur Tyrannosaurus Rex, a theropod dinosaur, was compared to several living animals and birds.
Astonishingly, of all the candidates, only chickens’ DNA showed significant similarities with their DNA, leading us to figure out that these birdies have evolved from the T. Rex.
26. Chickens have exceptional memory
Because the chickens goof around all day, many people consider them dumb, but nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, these fowl birds have an amazing memory and can remember not only events and places but also the faces of over 100 different people!
27. The longest-living chicken was 16 years old!
Although the average lifespan of chickens ranges between 5-10 years, the record of the oldest living chicken is set at 16 years. This chicken, named Matilda, was recorded as World’s Oldest Living Chicken in April 2004, when she was 14 years old.
Matilda died two years later, in February 2006, at the age of 16 years.
28. The hens tend to live longer than the cocks
Just as among humans, the females have a longer life expectancy than the males; the same is the case with chickens; the hens tend to live longer than the cocks.
The reason for this is that the cocks, due to their territorial nature, are on high alert much more often than the hens. They’re not tame and are always up for adventures. On the other hand, the hens are docile and careful, which is why they tend to live longer.
29. Chicks learn object permanence much, much faster than human babies
Do you know what object permanence is? It is the ability to understand that every object you see continues to exist even after it’s out of your eyesight or range.
While human babies acquire this ability when they’re eight months old, the chicks are much ahead and learn it within the first two days of their lives. This is just another piece of evidence that these fowl birds are much smarter than they get credit for.
30. Dust baths are quite popular among chickens
When we’re dirty, we clean ourselves with water, but not the chickens. These birds use a cleaning process that’s quite the opposite of ours; they take dust baths.
For dust baths, they find a dry patch of land where there’s loose, dry soil and flop around in it, rolling in all directions. From the looks of it, you’ll think they’re dirtying themselves.
On the contrary, these dust baths help them get rid of the excess oil secretion on their skin, as well as pesky parasites like lice and mites.
31. Chickens need just as much sleep as we do
You must’ve often read and heard how an eight-hour-long sleep is ideal for humans to function optimally. But did you know that chickens, that are much smaller than us in size, need roughly the same amount of sleep? In fact, at times, these feathery little things will even sleep for as long as 12 hours!
32. Chickens can even poop in their sleep
We just discussed how chickens’ sleep requirements are just like ours. But there’s one big difference: unlike us, these fowl birds are also known to poop in their sleep!
This distinction might sound bizarre, but it is actually pretty reasonable. Chickens do not possess the sphincter muscles to control their bodily functions like us, both when they’re awake as well as in sleep.
And because they eat a lot, they need to poop every 20-30 minutes, including the time they spend sleeping.
33. Chickens’ hearts beat thrice as fast as ours!
Do you know what the average human heart rate is? It’s between 60-100 times in a minute. It might seem like a big deal to you, but to the chickens, it’s nothing. The heart of these little birdies can beat thrice that many times, anywhere between 200-360 times per minute.
34. Chickens are vivid dreamers
Despite the differences between humans and chickens, we do have one thing in common: dreaming. Just like us, these birds also go through REM sleep and also dream when they sleep. Experts also claim that their dreams are just as vivid and colorful as ours!
35. Hens can choose whether or not to lay eggs, even after mating
Hens have a superpower that all women wish they’d have. They’re capable of ejecting the sperm if they don’t wish to move further with the egg-laying process.
Yes, you read that right. While hens might mate with several roosters, they’re quite picky about whose egg they’ll fertilize. And if a rooster is not well-suited for them, they’ll simply eject the sperm out to put a stop to fertilization. How crazy is that?
36. There’s a rare black-skinned chicken breed in Indonesia
Chickens are quite colorful birds, having plumages in mixed shades of red, yellow, orange, green, and brown. But not all chicken breeds are so bright; some can also possess monochromatic plumages as well.
The Ayam Cemani is one such monochromatic chicken breed endemic to Indonesia. And guess which color they have? Black! Yes, you’ve read that right.
This breed has a rare dominant gene causing hyperpigmentation, causing every part of their body, from their skin to their eyes, bills, and wattles, to be black. In fact, the internal organs of their body are black as well.
Before you start wondering about their eggs, we’ll tell you that for some reason, the eggs they lay are cream in color. Who could’ve thought?
36. Some chicken breeds can also lay blue eggs!
When it comes to the color of chicken eggs, what colors do you usually see? White and brown, right? Well, we’re here to tell you that not all chicken breeds follow the white-or-brown rule. Some rare or hybrid breeds also lay different-colored eggs.
Take blue, for instance. Did you know that there are several blue egg-laying chicken breeds in the world? If not, be prepared to be surprised because the eggs of Araucana, Whiting True Blue, and Cream Legbars are all blue in color.
37. Some chicken breeds can also lay pink eggs!
Now that we’ve established that blue egg-laying chickens exist, let’s talk pink. Yes, there are chicken breeds that lay pink eggs as well. The Favorelles, a French chicken breed, are a perfect example of it.
And then there are the Easter Eggers, a breed that can lay different colored eggs, including blue, green, and pink.
38. The color of a chicken’s egg can be determined by its earlobe
The color of a chicken’s earlobes and its eggs indeed match. But it’s no mere accident; there’s science behind it. This is because the gene in their body that is responsible for the coloration of their earlobes plays the same role in their egg coloration.
This is also why the chicken breeds that lay blue or pink eggs have similar hues on their earlobes as well.
39. Mama hens tend to talk to their eggs
Once a hen has laid eggs, she incubates it for the next 21 days, after which it hatches, and a little chick comes out of it. During this period, the mama hen will often talk to the egg, purring and clucking at it softly.
Experts have also claimed that after a while, the chick learns to respond from within the egg. Isn’t that astonishing?
40. Before a hen lays eggs, its comb grows
Doesn’t that count scary? We’re sure it will make much more sense when you hear the explanation.
When a hen is preparing itself to lay eggs, certain hormonal changes take place in its body, such as the color of its faces, wattles, and combs growing brighter. These changes also cause their combs to grow.
But if their combs grew every time they lay eggs, would they ultimately appear gigantic by the end of the week? The answer to this is that while these combs don’t really grow, they swell up and appear larger, giving an impression of having grown.
41. Chickens can eat their own eggs!
Can you imagine a parent eating their own baby? Well, while it might sound gruesome to you, in the chicken community, it’s not really that big deal.
According to what poultry farmers say, the instances of chickens eating eggs are quite common. The leading causes behind it include an imbalanced diet, overcrowding, and even boredom!
42. The United States of America is the leading chicken producer in the world
Statistics claim that the United States of America leads the world in the production of chicken meat and is closely followed by Brazil and China.
43. A single hen can lay about 600 eggs in its lifetime
Hens reach sexual maturity when they’re about 18-22 weeks old and have an average lifespan of 3 to 7 years. During this period, they can lay as many as 600 eggs!
45. Vatican City is the only country in the world without chickens
Being the smallest country in the world, Vatican City rightfully has the ‘city’ in its name; it is no larger than any average city! In a country as small as that, where would a chicken coop fit in?
However, this doesn’t mean that the citizens of Vatican City are unfamiliar with chicken delicacies. They do purchase chicken meat from the local markets of Rome.
46. Antarctica is the only continent that has no chickens
Because chickens are tropical birds that are adapted to live in warmer climates, it’s no wonder that they don’t naturally occur in the freezing climates of Antarctica.
But they could still be introduced there, wouldn’t they? Yes, they could, but they haven’t because of their disease-carrying tendencies. The scientists living there are worried that these fowl birds could infect the penguins there and impact their already struggling population.
47. Alektrophobia is a real thing
Never heard of alektrophobia? Well, it is a rare specific phobia disorder wherein a person develops an intense, irrational fear of chickens. And while many people dismiss this condition as a joke, it is, in fact, quite serious, wherein even the mere thought of chickens can make the victim faint.
48. The chicken mushroom tastes just like chicken
We understand that you might think that there’s no other food in the world that could taste like chicken, but allow us to change your mind.
Sulfur Shelf (Laetiporus sulphureus) is an edible mushroom that is known to have both the taste and texture of chicken meat. It has multiple shelf-like structures, usually arranged one upon the other, and is colored in varying shades of orange.
Other names for this mushroom include Chicken of the woods and Chicken fungus.
49. Chicken meat is consumed more often than beef in the United States
Chicken is indeed a more popular choice among Americans than beef. According to a survey conducted by the USDA in 2018, it was found that there was 65.2 pounds of chicken meat available per person, as opposed to 54.6 pounds of beef.
50. Chickens outnumber humans in the world
Considering how often an average meat-eating person eats chicken, it’s no surprise that chickens outnumber humans. There are about 19 billion chickens in the world at any given moment, which means their population is more than double ours.
Summing it up
With that, we’ve reached the end of this article. We’ve learned 50 new, fascinating facts about chickens. And having read them all, if there’s one thing that’s for sure, it’s that chickens are much more than the silly, pecking birds that most people assume them to be.
These fowl birds have surprisingly sharp memories, can converse with each other in complex languages, enjoy listening to music, can taste four kinds of foods, and see more colors than humans! Which of the above facts did fascinate you the most? Drop us an email and let us know.