First there was the revelation that roosters really do have an automatic built-in clock, alerting them to the time of day. Now, a new report claims that chickens are no bird brains - In fact, they are smarter then most four-year old human toddlers! The review which was commissioned by Britain's Happy Egg Company, was compiled using twenty years of research data. Here are some of the things University of Bristol Professor Christine Nicol, was able to uncover in her recently released report entitled 'The Intelligent Hen'.
Newly born chicks can count till five! This was gleaned from a study that involved exposing the chicks to two groups of eggs - They apparently always went for the larger number even if it was a choice between two or three. To prove that this was not a coincidence, the scientists switched around the numbers in the groups and after getting the same results, deduced that the chicks seemed to actually know what they were doing. However, when the number of eggs got larger, the chicks seemed to lose their math ability.
And that's not all - the newly born babies even seem to understand that just because an object has been moved, it is not completely gone, a concept that human toddlers do not seem to grasp until they are a few years old. If that doesn't impress you how about this? At just two weeks of age, chicks can navigate their way around, using the sun - A skill that requires gaging the height and position of the sun, throughout the day.
Also unlike human kids and most adults, chickens are able to exhibit control when necessary. In one of the studies, the birds were allowed to have more food if they waited a little longer. Sure enough, most of them soon realized that and restrained themselves from rushing over as soon as the meal was served.
And, they also seem to understand physics, especially structural engineering. Apparently, when they were shown a number of drawings, some that were impossible to construct because they defied gravity, the chickens invariably clucked on the ones that made structural sense! But most important of all - They learn very early in life not to befriend strangers! Puts a whole new perspective on the term 'bird brain' doesn't it?
The best part about this report is that the Happy Egg Company plans to use it to keep its hens even happier, by increasing the size of their already large pastures so that the 'girls' can roam around more freely than before!
Resources: dailymail.co.uk, wsj.com