As chicken owners, we humans can become really attached to our birds and it would be nice to think that they feel the same way.
But do they really like us or even know who we are at all?
I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the way our chickens behave towards us as a family and towards each other as a flock and this is what I’ve found out:
Chickens are able to recognize their human owners and can even tell them apart from other people who they come across. They also have the ability to recognize other chickens within their own flock and will know instantly if there’s a newcomer.
Read on to find out how you can tell that chickens have the ability to recognize you as their owners and how this recognition is used within the flock.
Chickens Recognizing Their Owners
It’s easy to say ‘yes chickens do recognize their owners’, but how do we really know that they do if they can’t tell us?
It’s been proven that chickens have very good vision which is said to be even better than our own. As well as good sight they also have the ability to differentiate between different human and chicken faces.
By learning to recognize their owners they can identify the person who feeds them and once they learn this, they’ll come running every time.
If you look down at your chickens you’ll probably notice that they actually put their heads at an angle to look up at your face and connect with you visually (see image below).
We keep free-range chickens who are free to roam on public footpaths so they get to see strangers all of the time.
So, we put them to the test to see how they reacted when they saw us compared to how they reacted when strangers passed through.
The difference was pretty conclusive because they didn’t pay much attention to a stranger, but if a member of our household went out to them they came dashing up to us at full speed.
The main reason they behave like this is that they know it’s us who feeds them, but I also like to think they like us a little too!
How to Help Your Chickens to Get to Know You
You can help your chickens to get to know you more by spending time around them and even talking to them (as long as the neighbours don’t see).
The more time they get to connect with you visually the quicker they’ll be able to identify who you are.
The more time you spend around your chickens, especially when you first get them, the quicker they’ll get to know you’re the person to trust and come to when called.
It’s also really good to have a call or whistle that they can associate with you for those times when they can’t see you and you need them to come home.
The following article explains this topic in more detail:
Chickens Recognizing Each Other
If you’ve ever introduced a new batch of chickens to each other you’ll know that it doesn’t always go down too well and that it can take a bit of time for them to get to know each other properly before they can be mixed together as a flock.
This is because members of an existing flock know and recognize each other and when a new chicken comes along they instantly know they’re a strange bird who’s not part of the flock.
It becomes even more obvious that chickens can distinguish between different individuals when you consider the fact they form a pecking order where each bird has their own place in the flock.
From the top bird to those at the bottom, they all know who’s in charge throughout the order. A good way to see how the order works in your own flock is to watch them as they eat at feeding time to find out who gets the best spot at the feeder.
Can Chickens Recognize Their Owners at Any Age?
If you hatch chicks and spend time rearing them, they’ll quickly get to know who you are from an early age, but can you say the same about older chickens?
This article was first published on March 24, 2021 by Pentagon-Pets.
My answer to this is you definitely can, whether you take on young pullets which are usually sold at about 12 weeks or older ex-farm rescue hens, they will quickly get to know who you are.
Younger hens tend to be more trusting and are more likely to get closer and spend more time around you than those who’ve had less contact with people, but they all generally come around to trusting you in their own way.
We’ve taken on 18 month old retirement birds who have happily joined an existing flock of younger birds who come dashing up to us with the others.
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Pentagon Pet is the owner of this article that was first published on March 24, 2021.
Our recommended coop
Chicken coop for different flock sizes and different weather.
This article and its contents are owned by Pentagon Pets and was first published on March 24, 2021.