Do Chickens Get Sad When You Give Them Away?

In the past, chickens were seen as nothing more than a food source and nothing more.

However, recent studies prove chickens are susceptible to pain, pressure, and temperatures.

It shows chickens have complex sensory and cognitive abilities and a sophisticated nervous system.

In short, there is a strong likelihood that chickens do get sad when their owners give them away.

Yet, you also need to understand that chickens are quite resilient, so they seem to make quick recoveries over their losses.

So, without further ado, let’s get right into the crux of whether chickens can be sad when they are separated from their owners.

Do Chickens Remember Their Owners?

According to Dr. Lesley Rogers, Professor of Zoology at the University of New England, Australia, chickens have cognitive abilities similar to those of mammals and primates.

Chickens can recognize and remember different faces and have over 24 calls and separate alarm calls that are used to communicate a wealth of information to other members of the flock. 

Hence, research now verifies with imperial proof that chickens can recognize and remember their owners.

Many chicken keepers vouch that their chickens tend to follow them around in the yard.

But, these chickens barely spare a glance or two in the direction of a stranger.

Do Chickens Get Attached To Humans?

When you observe the social order of a flock or take a closer look at the pecking order, you will often notice that some chickens naturally gravitate towards each other.

This phenomenon is not evident in a smaller flock.

But, when the flock is increased even by a bird or two, you will find that hens with similar personalities forage together and prefer to sleep in nests closer to each other.

Also, when chickens connect with their owners, they are often found hovering close to their owners when their human is around.

Hence, it is pretty obvious that chickens are partial to specific beings. 

Related article – Do chickens like hugs?

How Can You Tell If A Chicken Is Sad?

When chickens lose a member of their pecking order, you will often see many chickens are off their feed.

Chicken owners even claim that upon losing a member of the pecking order, their chickens stop laying eggs, stop eating, and some even stare into space in some corner for days. 

Yet, many backyard chicken raisers state that it isn’t a very tough task to uplift the spirit of the flock, as even something as small as a favorite treat goes a long way in making your chickens feel better.

Chickens show fear when attacked and anger when teased.

You will also find chickens make clucking sounds, flatten their feathers or pull out their feathers when distressed.

This is known as animal sentience; you will see it plainly in chickens.

But, chickens lack the apparent features required to show sadness or joy.

However, when you consider chickens’ movements, sounds, posture, and plumage in any given situation, you can make relatively accurate guesstimates about your chicken’s mood.

Do Chickens Know When One Is Missing?

Research and studies show that chickens can comprehend better than children.

Chickens understand that when an object is taken away or hidden, it continues to exist.

And this understanding is beyond the capacity of children.

Furthermore, chickens are known to miss a flock member when it dies.

Many Chicken keepers vouch that it seems that the flock is affected by the absence of a member of the pecking order.

Dr. Joy Mench, Professor, and Director of the Center of Animal Welfare at the University of California, explain that “chickens show sophisticated social behavior…. That’s what a pecking order is all about. They can recognize more than a hundred other chickens and remember them.”

Lori Marino, with a Ph.D. in biopsychology, is a neuroscientist who published an article by the name ‘Thinking Chickens: a review of cognition, emotion, and behavior in the domestic chicken’ in which she states that the ‘avian forebrain (the part of the brain involved in problem-solving and other higher-order cognitive capacities) is derived from the same neuroanatomical substrate as the mammalian forebrain.’

Hence, chickens also seem to miss their owner’s presence.

As it has already been proven through many studies that chickens have sharpened cognitive capabilities, they can tell when their caretakers are away.

In response to the absence of their keepers, chickens tend to lose their appetite and appear sullen, with their feathers often ruffled or puffed up.

Do Chickens Miss Each Other?

With the irrefutable evidence that science provides, it becomes unmistakable that chickens forge relationships within their social order.

As these unique creatures are pretty stringent about maintaining their pecking order and possess the ability to remember and recognize over a hundred different chickens, it would be presumptuous to say that they don’t miss their fellow flock members. 

The only assumption people can make to date is that chickens do not experience emotion like humans.

But, that doesn’t mean that chickens don’t feel emotion at all. 

Chickens owners have noted that if a flock member is unwell, they take to a corner.

In such an event, you will often find that other chickens from the flock will visit the ailing chicken.

Some chicken keepers even say that a few chickens went off their food for a few days.

But, they did eventually get back to eating properly.

So, you can assume that chickens do miss their friends or fellow flock members, but they can overcome their emotions and get on with their daily lives faster than mammals or humans.

Wrapping Up

Assuming chickens as simple-minded beings is the thinking of the past.

Scientific research and studies all point our thoughts to the fact that chickens are indeed remarkable beings with mental and emotional intelligence.

Hence, the next time your chickens lose a flock member, show empathy and offer a little extra TLC to help them on their way to happiness.

If you’re the proud owner of a flock of chickens, don’t consider giving them up so easily as these wise beings may not show that they care but they most certainly do.


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