I saw this question the other day and it made me chuckle to myself, but then I understood why it’s a question that’s actually Googled quite a lot.
We all know that chickens have breasts so I get why people ask the nipple question and why it can be a common misconception that chickens have breasts so surely they have nipples too?
Chickens do not have nipples as mammals do. Instead, they are birds and have a different anatomy for feeding their young. Chickens lay eggs, which they incubate until they hatch. The mother hen does not nurse her chicks; rather, the chicks are able to feed on solids from the time they hatch, requiring no lactation from the hen.
Read on to find out more about a common misconception surrounding chicken breasts and how a mother hen feeds their young chicks.
Do chickens actually have breasts
The term chicken breast is commonly used, but does this mean that chickens actually have breasts?
Chickens do have a section of flesh called the breast, but not in the sense that mammals do. The term breast is used to describe the front meaty section of a chicken and not because they’re milk-producing mammary glands which are found in most mammals.
The fact the term ‘breast’ is used to describe this section of the bird is the reason for the common misconception that chickens have nipples, however, they don’t serve any purpose when it comes to feeding chicks.
So why do chickens have breasts if they don’t breastfeed?
Chickens actually have one section of breast, which is given the term breasts when they’re split in two for to be sold as meat in shops. The breast section of a chicken is a fleshy area which serves no purpose other than to protect the internal organs inside.
The chicken also has an organ called the crop which is above the breast area where food is stored and softened before it moves on to be digested.
If the chicken has eaten a large meal, it can look like the breast is bulging and you can even feel the food inside if you gently feel the chickens chest area.
How do mother hens feed their chicks?
So, if chickens don’t feed their young through nipples how do chicks get their food?
Mother hens don’t feed their chicks as such but they do show and teach them how to find morsels of food for themselves by scratching and unearthing food with their feet and pecking at it using their beaks.
A newly hatched chick will quickly learn to forage for food alongside the mother hen, who will also help it to unearth morsels of food for her chicks.
Chicks which are raised by humans using incubators are fed with specially designed chick food or ‘chick crumbs’ which is easy to eat and provides all the nutrients a growing chick needs.
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This article and its contents are owned by Pentagon Pets and was first published on November 24, 2020.