25 Amazing Facts About Chickens You Probably Didn’t Know

Chickens are one of the most researched and studied animals in the world.

Because of this we know lots of fun and interesting chicken facts.

Have you ever wondered about how fast chickens can run or if chickens can see color?

Chicken keepers are always searching for new and fun facts about chickens.

Some people may wonder about more serious questions like where do chickens come from and are white eggs more nutritious than brown eggs. And other people wonder about more trivial facts like if chickens are colorblind or if chickens can recognize their keepers.

Are you interested in learning the answers to some questions you may have never thought to ask or think about?

Here are 25 of the most interesting chicken facts…

Barred Rock Chicken

1. Chickens can run at 9MPH

A chicken can run a mile in about six minutes and forty seconds with a top speed of nine miles per hour.

This will vary depending on the breed, fitness level and disposition of the individual chicken.

2. Chickens do not sweat

In general chickens are better equipped to handle cold weather rather than hot weather.

This is mainly due to their feathers.

In order to cool down they will drink water or flap their wings to get rid of some body heat. When overheated they will also pant.

3. There are more chickens than humans in the world

How many chickens are there in the world?

There are currently more than twenty billion chickens in the world. For reference in 2018 there are over eight billion humans in the world.

Multicolored Eggs

4. Brown eggs cost more than white eggs

Some people believe that brown eggs cost more than white eggs because brown eggs are more nutritious or are organic.

However both brown eggs and white eggs are equally nutritious and white eggs can also be organic. The cost difference is due to the fact that the brown egg producing hens generally eat more and cost more to keep than the white egg laying hens.

5. Chickens do not take baths

Chickens do not take baths with water and soap.

Instead they take dust baths.

This involves fluffing up their feathers with some dirt and using it to clean their bodies. It scrubs off dead skin cells and gets rid of oil buildup. This all helps to keep their feathers fresh and clean. Interestingly if there is no dirt available for dust baths then chickens will still go through the motions. This is like taking a bath without water for humans.

6. Hens do not play favorites with their chicks

Do hens play favorites?

Interestingly hens do not play favorites when it comes to her chicks. This is perhaps very different from human parents who will probably deny it, but still play favorites.

However the chick that responds to her calls first does get the best portion of food – it truly is first come first served!

Easter Egger Chick

7. Chickens can recognize people

Do chickens recognize their keepers?

Yes.

Chickens can recognize and differentiate between people with different faces. Also they seem to prefer people with beautiful faces. Some traits that define a beautiful face include symmetry and proportions.

8. Chickens Are Not Colorblind

Although many people think chickens are colorblind, they are not colorblind.

Chickens actually have great vision – better eyesight than you.

They are even able to see differences in colors that we cannot see.

As little chicks they are able to easily sense their way around obstacles and can even differentiate between high and low spaces.

This all develops relatively quickly (usually in two days). For reference this level of sight development takes weeks and months to develop for other animals like kittens and humans.

9. Do chickens know their names?

The short answer is: maybe.

The long answer?

Although chickens have been known to communicate through sounds, there is no scientific evidence that chickens know their names. However it is possible that you and your chickens have experienced that – especially around the time where you feed them chickens seem to respond to their name being called.

ISA Brown And Plymouth Rock Chicken

10. The most expensive part about keeping chickens is feed

Chickens are fairly cheap to keep.

Aside from the cost to buy the actual chick or chicken, the most expensive part about keeping chickens is their high quality feed.

Building your own coop is simple and cost-efficient but feed should not be skimped on as it could lead to nutritional deficiencies.

11. Chicks start to peck at three days old

When does the pecking order begin?

Pecking order behavior does not start until after the chicks are at least three days old. Once they are sixteen days old the fighting for pecking order starts. In all female flocks the pecking order is generally established at ten weeks whereas in all male flocks it takes much longer.

12. Do hens need sunlight to develop a hard shell?

Although sunlight is an important element for a healthy hen and egg laying, sunlight is not needed to develop strong egg shells.

Instead it is the calcium from her diet that is responsible for producing hard egg shells.

Flock Of Backyard Chickens

13. Hens only use one of their ovaries

Did you know that hens only use one out of two ovaries in the reproductive system?

Although hens have two healthy ovaries at birth only the left one develops to maturity and functions in the reproductive system. However in some cases when the left ovary is damaged or does not work the right ovary may develop instead.

The development of one ovary instead of two is believed to help with streamlining. Streamlining helps the build and profile of a bird stay slim and aerodynamic which makes it easier for them to fly.

This is not very helpful for chickens though as they generally do not fly very far.

14. What causes double yolked eggs?

A double yolk egg is caused by two yolks being released by the ovary at the same time.

This occurs more often in younger hens with a more active reproductive system.

A double yolk egg is very rare but perfectly natural. You should not be worried about the health of your hens when this occurs.

15. Double yolk eggs do not hatch into two chicks

Double yolk eggs are always an interesting and nice surprise!

Unfortunately a double yolk egg does not hatch into two chicks. Often it does not hatch into a chick at all.

There is not enough nutrients or space to sustain the growth of two chicks inside the shell.

16. What color egg will my hen lay?

You can usually find this information online by searching for the specific breed.

Breeds like the Easter Egger will lay varying colors of eggs like green, pink or blue.

However most chickens will lay either white or brown eggs.

Interestingly hens with white earlobes will generally produce white eggs and hens with red earlobes will lay brown eggs.

Araucana Blue Eggs

17. A darker yolk is not more nutritious

Does a more darker yolk mean the egg is more nutritious?

A yolk’s shade of yellow depends on what the hen eats and not the nutrition level of the egg. If she eats a yellow corn or alfalfa then the yolk will turn out very yellow. The yolk will be a lighter shade of yellow if she eats mostly wheat or barley.

And if she eats mostly white corn then the yolk will appear almost colorless.

18. Chickens are one of the few birds to have comb and wattles

How do you differentiate chickens from other birds?

Interestingly you can differentiate a chicken from other birds by their comb and two wattles – most other birds do not have them.

19. Chickens are descendants of the Red Jungle Fowl

Where do chickens come from?

It is generally agreed upon that most chickens are descendants of the Red Jungle Fowl (Gallus gallus) from Southeast Asia. Interestingly chickens were originally kept for sports and were a common form of entertainment at the time – they were not used for food.

Red Jungle Fowl

20. A cloudy egg white means the egg is fresh

A fresh egg has a large amount of carbon dioxide trapped inside it and this gives a cloudy appearance.

Cloud egg whites usually means that the egg is still very fresh since the carbon dioxide has not had a chance to escape yet.

21. Different chickens have different combs

Combs come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes.

There are actually several different classifications of combs including: single comb, rose comb, pea comb, cushion comb, buttercup comb, strawberry comb and a v-shaped comb. All of these and their variations are perfectly healthy and normal.

22. Will I get salmonella if I eat a raw egg?

These days it is incredibly rare to find a chicken egg infected with salmonella.

However caution should still be practiced when eating raw eggs. The best thing to do when eating eggs is to wash and cook them thoroughly before eating.

You will probably not get salmonella from consuming a raw egg but it is better to be safe than sorry.

23. Can chicks survive without a hen?

With the help of an attentive flock owner chicks will be able to survive without a mother hen.

However in the wild chicks will die without a mother hen.

Although some behaviors come naturally, chicks learn many of their survival skills by watching other chickens. For example chicks do not know how to drink water at birth and must be taught to dip their beaks in water.

Buff Orpington Chicks

24. Chicks can identify their mother

Chicks are able to identify their mothers using vision and sound.

Even in the dark chicks will still be able to find their mother by communicating through noises and cheeps. Of course vision plays a large role in helping chicks find their mother as well. However do not be surprised when testing this theory if a few chicks make mistakes and follow the wrong mother hen!

25. Chickens do not need to forage to survive

As long as they are provided with enough food and water then chickens do not need to forage to survive.

However in the wild foraging is their primary source of nutrients and resources. They will spend up over half of their time foraging for food and snacks.

Summary

Each day as a chicken keeper is a new day of learning.

Which fact was your favorite?

Maybe you enjoyed learning that chickens do not sweat or that chickens take dust baths instead of regular water baths. Maybe you knew that not all eggs have salmonella in them and that chickens do not need sunlight to develop a hard shell?

Regardless of how long you have kept chickens you were probably surprised by at least one or two of these new facts.

How many of these facts surprised you?

Let us know in the comments section below…

Chris Lesley Bio Picture
Chris Lesley has been Raising Chickens for over 20 years and is a fourth generation chicken keeper. She can remember being a young child when her grandad first taught her how to hold and care for chickens. She also holds a certificate in Animal Behavior and Welfare and are interested in backyard chicken health and care. Her work has been shared on HuffPost, Mother Nature Network, Community Chickens, Mother Earth News and many more outlets. Today Chris keeps 11 chickens including 4 Buff Orpingtons, 4 Rhode Island Reds and 3 Silkies. She is our backyard chicken expert at Chickens And More, and shares her knowledge on raising healthy, happy chickens with our readers. You can contact Chris at chris@chickensandmore.com

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