Do Chickens Have Feelings and Emotions

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You may have wondered if chickens have feelings and how they express them. Chickens are kept mainly for their egg and meat production; however, they can also serve as a great pet. Chickens can show emotions like empathy, anxiety, stress, fear and pain, among other possible emotions.

Feelings and emotions in animals cannot be fully understood by humans, primarily because animals cannot verbally communicate with humans. However, humans identify the feelings of animals in their behaviour and feeding habits. Are we able to tell, do chickens have feelings and emotions?

Chickens have feelings and express them in different ways. Chicken’s emotions are complex and can be identified through their behaviour and feeding patterns. However, emotions such as stress, fear, pain and empathy are among the most common emotions in chickens.

We will delve deep into the complex world of chickens’ emotions and feelings ad try to answer some common questions such as do chickens get sad when you give them away and do they get sad when one of their flock passes.

Do Chickens Have Feelings and Emotions

Feelings and emotions are closely related to humans. Seeking to understand the emotions and feelings in animals may prove a little difficult due to the absence of verbal communication. Humans can only make assumptions about chickens’ emotions based on their behavioural and feeding patterns after an event.

For instance, when a chicken from a flock is taken out and kept in solitude, it may show signs of depression and let out a moody and sad cry. When a flock member dies, the rest of the flock get sad and may not eat for a while. They also let out a moody cry, similar to the mothers’ release when they lose a chick.

When monitored closely, chickens tend to have a higher heart rate and increased external temperature when distressed. It is mainly observed when a mother hen loses a chick, or a chicken friend dies.

picture of emotions and feelings

Dr Joanne Edgar, in a study, found out that chickens have deep emotions which are identifiable by behavioural changes.

Chickens express deep feelings and emotions among themselves, especially those who exist in flocks. Human emotions being used to classify chicken behaviour can be a little misleading but can give us pointers in the right direction. Chickens in flocks quickly form bonds with themselves, and when broken, it can lead to loneliness, or what can be classified as depression.

These emotions are especially pronounced in mother hens. They form a bond with their chicks, and when they face unpleasant situations, they can become frustrated, especially when they cannot change the situation. This kind of bond is also present among peers who flock together; when separated, it affects their feeding habits and other behaviour.


Related Reading: Can A Chicken Live Alone – I talk about how a chicken feels about this and the effect of loneliness on chicken. If you want further reading on this then i suggest you also check out How To Keep A Single Chicken Happy, This gives you some easy to implement and actionable steps to keep your chicken happy – it’s targeted towards a single chicken but a lot will also apply to a flock.

Do Chickens Get Sad

Yes, chickens do get sad, especially over losing their loved ones, like a chick or a close friend. The surviving friend may look for the deceased friend in their favourite places for some time. However, they live in the moment and get over the loss fast compared to humans.

Chickens are much like ourselves, they feel and display emotions, perhaps they can’t explain it but it’s evident through behavioural changes.

Just as we have complex reasons for when we are sad, perhaps we don’t always verbalise this but it can be evident to someone who knows us and can recognize the signs when we are not feeling ourselves, similar with chickens.

Does your chicken keep pecking you or other chickens, it could be a sign of emotional upset, check out to see if it relates to your chickens.

Do Chickens Get Sad When You Give Them Away

Chickens are social animals and love to dwell in communities; any action taken to separate them from the flock can get them sad. Separation through death, giving away, or any other form generally has the same effect on the chicken in question.

When compared to humans, Chickens handle grief and separation well. They may stop feeding for a while or stop laying eggs for a time, but they soon get comfortable with their new environment and carry on with their lives.

Some researchers tend to believe that chickens do not get sad when they are given away; they claim that chickens only get irritated by the new environment. It is, however, not the case, as chickens show real signs of sadness and loneliness when taken away from their clique.

When taken into a new set of birds, they may show signs of exclusion from the new flock, difficulty in feeding, and many others. They may also show signs of depression, together with the signs of loneliness.

Do Chickens Cry

chicken looking

Crying and producing tears is a function of the tear ducts in the eye. In chickens, these ducts are absent in the eyes; they cannot cry. Therefore, when they get sad, rather than crying, they only exhibit behavioural changes in response to grief.

Tears serve the purpose of cleaning and moisturizing the eyes; since the tear gland is absent in chickens, they have a nictitating membrane or a third eyelid that help keep the eyes moisturized.

Do Chickens Get Attached To Their Owners

Chickens cannot come out to tell their owners that they care about them, but when attention is paid to their behaviour, it is evident that they get attached to their owners.

They express this feeling by lying down by their owners, squatting so you can pet them, and rubbing their bodies against you.

Do Chickens Get Sad When Another Chicken Dies

Chickens are quite conscious and capable of showing joy, grief, depression, loneliness, among other emotions. They are social animals and tend to flock together. When a clique member dies, it is common to see other members of the clique sad and indisposed for a while.

Other clique members tend to stay off their feed and lay down, doing nothing. They also let out sad and distorted noises when they get sad. However, in contrast to humans, they live in the moment and quickly get over the loss.

This behaviour is also seen in nursing mother hens when they lose a chick. They make a mournful sound that is different from the regular sound. When keen attention is paid to the behavioural patterns of chickens, it is easy to identify when there are changes in these birds’ patterns and the possible causes.

Summarily, chickens are quite smart and may even be more intelligent than we give them credit. They are aware of their environment. Also, they form bonds among themselves as social animals and can get attached to their owners and show emotions. Like humans, they do not spend much time grieving; they tend to get over difficult situations quickly.

Wrap Up

I hope you got the answers about, do chickens have feelings and emotions and I also hope along the way we answer a few related questions too. To sum it up for you, in case you didn’t read the whole article…

Chickens are complex creatures, as are all animals and as such, they have feelings and emotions that can be identified in behavioural changes. Although they don’t cry, they do feel sad and will feel sad if one of their flock dies.

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