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Chickens are very fascinating animals and their intelligence might surprise most people. As a chicken keeper, you will continuously be surprised to see the intelligence that these small birds have. Their intelligence extends to many areas, but how about identification and memory? And do chickens remember each other?
Chickens do indeed remember each other, they have the necessary memory and identification ability to do this. When a hen is removed and reintroduced to the flock the others will remember her and she will take the same place in the pecking order. They can even recognize each bird in a flock of over 100.
It is relatively hard to establish exactly what the mind of a chicken is capable of. There has not been a lot of research done in this area, so we are left to go on the experience and opinions of long-time chicken keepers. Below we will look at what the experts have to say.
There is a fairly strong consensus among passionate chicken keepers that chickens do remember each other. According to the experts they can do even more than just remember each other, they can even tell their owner apart from other people, they can recognise and remember other animals and they can even share information about a certain person with each other.
This might come as a big surprise to many! We do not expect this kind of intelligence from chickens, because mostly we just see them as food or as a recourse, but as soon as we start investing more time with these fascinating creatures we will start to see the signs of their cleverness.
It is mostly believed that chickens make use of their visual sense to tell each other apart. Studies have even shown that chickens are more attracted to good-looking people – that means people with a more symmetrical face. This proves to us that sight is the most important sense that chickens use.
All the chickens in the flock will have slightly different looks. They can pick up on these smallest differences to identify each other. They can then also remember each other.
The amount of time that they can remember each other is up for discussion and we will also take a look at that question in the next section.
It is most commonly accepted that chickens can remember each other for about 30 days. Many chicken keepers will claim that it is much longer than that, but there is not enough evidence to support that claim. Chickens that leave the flock and come back within 30 days are accepted back like they never left.
Within a chicken flock, there is a pecking order. This order is established and then maintained within the flock. Whenever a new hen will try to join the flock she will enter at the bottom of the pecking order and she will get picked on by all the other hens. The pecking order is the dominance hierarchy within the flock.
When a hen is taken out of the flock and brought back within about 30 days she will be remembered and will take back her old spot in the pecking order. If the hen is removed for longer than that she will have to join at the bottom of the pecking order.
There are many signs that chickens do indeed get attached to each other. Whenever a family member or a friend dies there are noticeable signs of sadness and even depression. The sad chicken will not interact with others and he/she will stay in a corner with feathers puffed up.
These signs of sadness are a strong indication of the attachment that chickens have towards each other. When something happens to a chicken that is not a part of their flock they will not be similarly affected.
So, do chickens remember each other? It is clear that chickens are intelligent creatures with a lot of personalities. They can remember each other for extended periods of time, they get attached to each other and they have a strong pecking order within their flock. Chickens make great pets if you have the time to invest in them and learn about their behavior.