Chickens are often portrayed as unintelligent and unfeeling animals. With this popular misconception, many chicken owners find themselves pleasantly surprised to find that their chickens bestow affection on their owners and one another. Seeing your chickens interact with one another can be both entertaining and endearing.
How Do Chickens Show Affection to Each Other?
Chickens will form their little cliques within a flock of their choosing and share their food, dustbathes, sunbathing, and roost together as acts of affection.
Unlike humans, chickens can’t show affection by talking. However, they are capable of showing affection to humans and other chickens. This article will look at how these birds show favoritism and make friends among the flock.
Are Chickens Affectionate?
There is a prevalent misconception that chickens do not have feelings or emotions. It is often a perspective that makes biting into a drumstick less guilt-ridden.
However, for anyone who has cared for a flock of chickens, the truth is quite the contrary. Chicken are social creatures who rely heavily on flock life and its social dynamics, displaying affection to owners and chickens alike.
Chickens are very social birds. You can see this when it comes to how important it is that your chicken has fellow chicken friends as it can profoundly impact their mental health.
A chicken left without a flock will often fall into a depression that can affect their physical health, showing just how important it is for them to have a social circle amongst their species.
An understanding of chickens’ mental and emotional capacity has only just started taking off, with recent studies showing how intelligent and complex chickens truly are with respect to their emotional and mental capabilities.
So, if you happen to be questioning whether chickens can show affection, the truth that they indeed can and will.
Chickens are self-aware, display empathy, and remember over a hundred faces, with a substantial amount of findings making it clear that chickens do indeed experience emotions.
These birds can even learn their name and remember their owner’s faces.
These emotions are often complex, but they are there, nonetheless.
Like us, chickens will not only display how sad and depressed they are through their behavior and body language.
They will also show specific behaviors associated with other emotions, like fondness or liking another one of their flock member’s company above the others. Showing little displays of affection.
When A Friend Passes Away
A clear sign of a chicken being capable of feeling emotion and displaying affection for one another is in their ability to feel grief and mourn for the loss of a friend and flock member.
Chickens have been known to show mourning behavior. Such as making sad and depressed noises at the passing of one of the flock members. However, some chickens will mourn longer with closer friendships within the flock.
As humans have come to know, grief is often associated with the loss of someone with a close bond.
When you feel such a loss of a loved one while mourning it, the emotion you feel is how someone expresses the loss of the bond between them.
What Are Displays of Affection Between Chicken?
As mentioned, chickens are flock animals, so it is not unusual for them to prefer to be amongst other chickens. They do, however, show preferences for who in the flock they prefer to keep in close company, showing a fondness for an individual chicken or group of chickens’ presences.
The signs of affection between your chickens may be hard to detect in smaller flocks where a chicken may only have one or two companions.
However, in larger chicken flocks, owners often find that their chickens have their own little cliques or groups of best friends.
This is because having more chickens allows for there to be more personalities within the flock. As a result, some of the more social chickens will find a preference for keeping in each other’s company. They choose to spend all their time together and form their own little clique inside the flock dynamic.
More often than not, you may find this to be the case with chicks that are raised together within the same social ranking in the pecking order.
They will seem inseparable from one another, partaking in their daily activities together.
In this way, they show affection to one another through their preference of physical proximity, wanting to be near one another at all times.
Do Your Chickens Do Everything Together?
Countless avid chicken owners vouch for their chickens, showing affection or close friendships with other chickens. It is often displayed in their being inseparable for many activities. You may find that they:
Share their food– A common sign of affection between chickens is sharing food.
The order in which chickens eat and drink is determined by the flock’s social structure. The birds higher up in the hierarchy getting access to food before those on the bottom of the pecking order.
That makes sharing their food with another chicken (even one of the same social rank) a pretty considerate gesture.
Dustbathe and sunbathe together– Dustbathes and sunbathes can be an everyday event and typically a social activity done in groups.
A form of affection between one chicken and another can be seen when they consistently choose a preference for sunbathing and dustbathing with specific flock members.
You will also notice that they will preen each other and make pleasing sounds to one another, with an increase in communication happening between them as they do so.
Roost with one another– Roosting is another one of those things that are determined by the pecking order.
However, you may see that a few of your chickens may be roosting a little closer together regularly, especially if they happen to be best friends that are within the same social rank.
When chickens sleep for the night, they roost as high up as they can get as a natural survival instinct. They are most vulnerable to predators when they sleep.
So, if you see that a few of your chickens are snuggling on their perch, they are showing that they feel safe and comforted by the proximity of one another.
As you can see, chickens tend to show affection in various daily activities simply by choosing to spend their time together.
Their closeness and favored behavior between each other can be a product of being raised together. Or due to social personality traits having congregated together into their little cliques.
Their capacity for emotions is highly underestimated. With their displays of affection often overlooked in the meat production industry (which makes up the most significant portion of domesticated chicken).
Many chicken owners can vouch for their actions in that they show one another displays of affection, choosing to share food, sunbathe, dustbathe, and roost together.
Yet as minuscule as sticking together may seem. Their desire to stick close to one another is certainly something that we as humans can understand. As we too partake in similar behavior.