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Chicken Intelligence

JessticleJessticle Junior Member
edited August 2011 in "Off Your Chest"
For an investigative project at college I am studying the intelligence of chickens, to detirmine whether chickens are actually intelligent or not, looking at pecking orders and chicken ancestory (eg jungle fowl). I was just wondering if anyone here had any opinions or experiences they would like to share that could help me with my project! :)



  • edited October 2010
    I keep around 400 rare breeds and I should imaging 99% of them have a higher IQ than the numbskull that thought this question needed a project built around it.

    Please tell whoever it is that sets these stupid investigations to come up with a project whereby the students learn something worthwhile to take them into a real world situation.
  • undautriundautri Senior Member
    edited October 2010
  • sandiesbrahmassandiesbrahmas Super Moderator
    edited October 2010
    Whether instinct or intelligence I do not know, but mine will usually find their way to the dog's bed outside if they have not made their way to the coop by nightfall.They know where I keep the poultry corn and how to open the bag.
    They know when I call 'Chickens' it means I have food for them and don't confuse it with me calling any of the other animals or people by name.
    They know individuals and don't trouble visitors when they come to the house, but almost mob any member of the family when they get home, hoping for treats.
    The programme suggested by Kath will make folk think twice about calling someone 'Bird brain'.
    The current solo chick I have knows how to sound the distress call to get removed form the box, knows where the breakfast cereal cupboard is, and even how to manipulate my old man.....so she is smart!
    I wouldn't be attributing the same level of intelligence to them as my very bright Border Collie, but I don't think they are quite the 'dumb clucks' that they are sometimes portrayed as,
  • spodskispodski Senior Member
    edited October 2010
    I have 6 chooks of almost 6 months of age. At least 4 of them know their own names and will take dried fruit from my fingers when I say whos turn it is. The fifth one doesn't bother with dried fruit and the 6th one is a bit aloof, not eating from my hand. I have 8 chicks aged 2/3 weeks and they already know that if they run round the brooder looking excited I will feed them a treat! There was a programme on TV fairly recently that tested chicken intelligence. They hid mealworms under shapes and the chickens quickly learnt which shapes held food and which did not!
  • undautriundautri Senior Member
    edited October 2010
    just to start you off with the pecking order-
    as a flock/herd animal there has to be someone in charge otherwise, if everyone was doing their own thing then the safety of the flock/herd would be at risk.
    the top bird isnt necessarily the most intelligent nor the biggest but will definately be the most confident and fearless.
    any sign of panic by a bird will upset and stress the rest of the flock and usually invite an attack. so if you have a nervous or flighty bird then theyll never be at the top of the pecking order, no matter how big or fit they are.
    Top bird gets to eat first out of respect. they also dictate when its time to go to bed and usually where everyone sleeps. in times of danger the rest of the flock will look to the top bird before deciding whether to keep quiet or run.
    top bird is usually the bravest/ less panicky rooster- not necessarily the biggest as is the case in most herd animals.there will also be a top hen. in the absence of males or if the males in the flock lack confidence, then the top hen will be top bird.
    My top bird is a bantam hen despite the fact that shes in with 3 large fowl birds and 2 young cockerels. she never panics about anything. my cat likes to 'herd up ' the chickens and while everyone else panics, squawks and runs to the coop, she stands her ground and is therefore usually ignored by the cat.
    my bottom hen i think is the most intelligent as she has to have her wits about her at all times to avoid being picked on. shes expert at working out escape routes and reading warning signals.
    they have quite a large vocabulary and ,as sandie said, can recognize different people.they can be easily trained to come to you with a whistle or a call.
    hope this helps you
  • ArkleArkle Senior Member
    edited October 2010
    Mine recognise me and can sometimes tell whether I am likely to have food on me or not.

    On the odd occasion that 'someone' shut the coop door and they couldn't get in at bed time, my older girls who know I have got a comfortable shed in the garden will decide to go there instead. The younger ones have not yet followed, prefering to sit on top of the coop unitl someone notices.

    No sure about intelligence over instinct in that case, but they do recognise names and can tell if I'm wanting to catch them ;)
  • iloveexbatsiloveexbats Senior Member
    edited October 2010
    We have got a tame ex-battery hen who I think does have intelligence. She knows her own name and will come when called. If her food hopper is running low she will fly out of her electric fence come to our back door and call us. She knows the sound of the fridge door opening and will come running into the kitchen from the other end of the garden.

    After six months of not coming into the house, she came in and immediately visited all her favourite places - the dust bath in the conservatory, her cardboard box ontop of the green filing cabinet, the top of a chest where she once laid an egg, the dogs bed by the Aga. That show that she has quite a good memory.

    I would be interested to hear more about what you have discovered.
  • chickensRcoolchickensRcool Member
    edited October 2010
    My chicken named, Pepper comes when called. he is so cute! he is my favorite chicken and is very smart. i remember when i first got him last year. he was so skinny. now he is a fat chicken.a happy chicken is a fat chicken!!
  • edited October 2010
    My chickens seem to know their names - they respond when called and "talk" to me. They definitely recognise different people.

    My Rooster, Gordon, even knows my car - when I come home he starts crowing even before I go up the garden!!

    I think they are pretty clever - they have me very well trained already and have only been here a few months :D

    Gordon complains if he hasn't had his treat by 5pm - he was creating a real rumpus and I thought someone had escaped, but no, it was treat time [I had visitors and was running late!] I'm sure they have a sense of time.

    It's great that people have posted and replied - and I hope it does help your project.

    Maybe it doesn't directly relate to the real world, but we've all enjoyed sharing our stories, you've learnt more about chickens, how to research a project and obtain information, how to write it up etc - and that not everyone is as pleasant as everyone else sadly :(
  • ijusnonotijusnonot Junior Member
    edited July 2011
    We allow our two Chickens, a Rhode Island red and a Barred Plymouth Rock, into the house from time to time to wander around a bit. One Sunday evening The TV was tuned into "The Lawrence Welk Show" The two of them stood transfixed for the duration of the program, including commercials despite the fact that the show ran well past sunset. They've been in when other programs are running but pay no special attention.
    Needless to say, they've been faithful viewers for almost a year now. I guess there's no accounting for musical taste, LOL.
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