Friday, June 25, 2010

Not just birdbrains, Chickens are capable of complex thought.

I had a chance to read a book called "The Inner World of Farm Animals" by Amy Hatkoff, 2009 and I wanted to share some of the amazing information with you.

Researchers are learning that human brains and avian brains process information in similar ways.

University research shows that chickens are unique creatures with social structures, feelings and emotions.

Did you know that:

  • Chicks can tell people apart and remember the experiences they had with them, per researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario Canada.
  • Chickens have a sense of the future, they demonstrate self-control and the capacity to delay gratification.
  • Much of a chicks behaviour is learned rather than instinctual and they form strong social friendships - preferring some individuals over others.
  • The University of Bristol has shown the chickens can learn from videos.
  • Chickens use their right and left sides of their brains to perform different functions. This process is called lateralization and was originally thought to be a unique human ability. Lateralization was the necessary component language, consciousness and tool use. Dr. Lesley Rogers, Professor of Zoology at University of New England, Australia
  • Chickens also follow the direction of eye gazes. This would mean they have an awareness that others exist and then grasp that they are looking at something.
  • Chickens have demonstrated the ability to count and use basic geometry University of Trento, Padua and Chieti
  • Chickens know what is good for them. If they are in pain, they will choose and continue to eat foods laced with painkillers, and when they recover they will select food without the drugs. - Professor Marion Stamp Dawkins, Professor of Animal Behaviour of Oxford University.
  • One of the capacities we associate with consciousness or higher cognition is the ability to think about something that is not in the immediate vicinity. This is call object permanence. Researchers at University of Trento and Univeristy of Padua Italy have found that as soon as chicks hatch, they are able to remember that something exists, even if they are unable to see it."Human babies acquire object permanence somewhere between 5 and 8 months.
  • Chickens have highly developed communication skills.- Dr. Gisela Kaplan, professor Univeristy of New England.
  • Researchers have identified 31 different call-types with very specific meanings. Chickens use separate alarm calls depending on whether the predator is traveling by land or sky. They also have nesting, mating, laying, contented, and all clear calls. They also make appropriate response calls to different alarm calls but only when another chicken is present to hear it.
  • The more they like something like a particular food, the faster they speak.

Is it time to reevaluate how they are treated?

I think they should be treated with respect, dignity and kindness. They should receive the best possible treatment from their handlers and not have to live in fear or pain. They should enjoy their time here.

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