Why Do Chickens Shake Their Heads When You Talk To Them?

Chickens are much more intelligent than you think, and they recognize faces and can tell the difference in colors. They are also incredibly social with people and show it in adorable ways. 

Have you ever noticed that your chicken shakes its head? So, why do chickens shake their heads when you talk to them? If you are asking yourself this question, you’ve already admitted that you talk to your chickens. So do I! So you’re not alone.

Chickens shake their head when you talk to them because it’s how they acknowledge that you are speaking to them and that they also recognize your voice. It’s also one of the many ways they show their affection for you.

In this article, I will take a deeper look at why chickens shake their head when you talk to them. The head shaking can be due to their way of showing affection, as well as other reasons you may not be aware of, so let’s take a look. 

Your Chickens Are Showing Affection to You

As I mentioned earlier, chickens are intelligent birds, despite the fact that many people think they aren’t too bright. They quickly pick up on the sound of their owner’s voice and their speech patterns. 

Chickens also recognize their own names if you give them one. But, who doesn’t? I named mine after The Golden Girls! When I speak to my girls, they shake their cute little heads and look right at me. 

Aside from finding pleasure in your voice, chickens have other ways of showing affection. While they may not give you the undivided attention that a dog or cat can, chickens have their own unique way of telling you that they love you.

Like humans, chickens feel an array of emotions, and affection for you is just one of them. I’ve written an article that discusses 11 ways chickens show affection to humans. It will help you understand some of the behaviors chickens display.

Other Reasons Chickens Shake Their Heads

We know that chickens will shake their heads at you to show that they know your voice. But there are some other reasons chickens do this. Some of those reasons are perfectly fine, and others may be a warning sign for you to look out for. 

She’s Fluffing Up

Chickens fluff themselves several times a day, and it’s simply a way of regulating temperature. It will look as if the shake starts at her head and goes all through her body, and it’s adorable and means everything is just fine.

Their Trying to See You

Chickens like other pets use their eyes to avoid obstacles. If they can’t see you, they may shake their heads to get a better view, especially if they hear you talking to them. This is usually accompanied by them tilting their head to the side as well.

It differs from how humans move their eyes to communicate with others. These birds will move their entire head to focus their eyes on the noise, object, or your voice.

 She Might Have Gapeworm

One of the downsides of owning backyard chickens is that they get sick. Gapeworm is a parasitic worm that can live in the trachea of chickens and often into the lungs.

If your girl is shaking her head and stretching her neck, she may be trying to dislodge a worm. Also, look out for panting, coughing, or gasping for breath. If you suspect gapeworm, take her to a vet who can help.

She Might Have an Upper Respiratory Infection

If you see your girl shaking her head and sneezing, that’s a pretty good indication that she might have an upper respiratory problem. Unfortunately, upper respiratory infections in chickens can be fatal, so it’s best to see a veterinarian.

She May Have an Impacted Crop

Head shaking, especially side to side, can signify an impacted crop. A chicken’s crop should ideally empty every night, but sometimes it can become impacted with hay, woodchips, or anything else she decides to eat.

Another sign of impacted crop is a sizable goiter-like lump in her chest or lower throat that does not go away. The most common signs are; lethargy, self isolation, and an extended squishy crop.

She May Have a Vitamin E Deficiency

If you ever see your chicken shaking her head about and walking backward, she most likely needs vitamin E added to her diet. This issue is caused by a genetic condition known as wry neck.

It’s dangerous for a chicken’s head and neck to shake and go in a different direction, and it also causes dizziness. Left untreated can be fatal, as the chicken won’t be able to hold their head up to eat or drink.

How to Shaking Heads In Chickens?

If your chickens only shake their heads when you’re talking to them, there’s nothing to worry about. However, if your bird constantly shakes their head for no apparent reason, it could be due to one of the reasons listed above. If you’re ever unsure, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian.

Treating a Respiratory Infection

If your chicken is shaking her head and panting, she may have an upper respiratory infection which can be fatal if not treated. Avian veterinarians will likely treat the infection by prescribing antibiotics.

Some feed stores carry over the counter medications such as; Tetracycline. Tetracycline helps control CRD (chronic respiratory disease) and air sac infections caused by Escherichia coli, and Mycoplasma gallisepticum.

Before giving your chickens any type of over the counter medication, consult your veterinarian. They will be able to tell recommend the best product as well as the proper dosage to give your birds.

Treating an Impacted Crop

An impacted crop can be treated by a veterinarian. However, many chicken owners have had success treating it on their own. The best way to treat a chicken suffering from this issue is to limit feed intake, getting them to drink water with apple cider vinegar, and feeding them yogurt.

You can even try holding the chicken upside down, while gently massaging the crop, in the direction of the head. This will help induce vomiting to help loosen the object.

Unfortunately, chicken owners will have to deal with an impacted crop at one point. Especially, if your chickens are allowed to roam freely, since these birds try eating all types of objects such as; rubber, plastic, and other indigestible objects.

Treatment for Wry Neck

If your chicken is shaking her head, walking backward, and falling down she may have Wry Neck. This is a genetic condition that affects mostly newborn chickens, but some adult chickens as well. It is a vitamin deficiency, commonly a vitamin E deficiency that prevents them from being able to hold their head up.

The best way to treat wry neck is to provide a well-balanced diet.

Talk to our vet if you’re ever unsure about why your chicken is shaking her head. They will be able to help!

Final Word

Chickens are amazing little birds, and they have peculiar ways of expressing themselves. Shaking their heads is only one of the ways they show affection to their people. But as we learned, head shaking can be a sign of something more serious.

Check out these links if you are looking for more information on chickens and their silly behavior

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Chickens Like It When You Talk To Them?

Chickens like other domesticated animals enjoy attention they get from their owners. These vocal creatures will respond when they hear your voice. Once they bond with you, don’t be surprised to see them come running when they hear their name called.

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