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Friday, February 24, 2017

Chickens Talk and Fly

     Chickens can fly to some extent. Some are too heavy, but most barnyard chickens can fly short distances. The world record flight is 13 seconds and 300 yards; that's 47 miles per hour! Domestic chickens aren't good flyers because their body weight is too heavy for their wings to carry them any distance so they tend to do a kind of hop and flap. They can, and often do, manage to escape their enclosure by flying over fences. Normally, a four foot fence is easy, six is a little more difficult but still very possible and some can clear ten to fourteen feet. 
     If you've ever tried to catch a chicken you know they are fast. They can get up to 9 miles per hour for short bursts and they can turn on a dime. The average human walks at about 3 miles per hour and runs at about 15 miles per hour. 
     Chicken aficionados will tell you how intelligent chickens are, but they don't compare to a dog or pig, or even some other birds. Also, the term Mother Hen would lead you to believe that chickens are good mothers, but chickens have been known to eat their young and they like the taste of their own eggs. It's not normal, but it's been observed that sometimes when the chicks started hatching the mother hen will immediately killed and eat the chick and the shell it came out of. Chickens will eat anything that looks like food and they love eggs. Once a hen has tasted fresh eggs it may start breaking eggs intentionally in order to eat them. Once she’s learned to do that, other hens will learn it from her and take up the habit! It's true. 
     Chickens teach each other. Hens teach their chicks what they should and shouldn’t eat and in lab experiments researchers found that mother hens taught their chicks to avoid certain colored grains. 
     It’s widely believed that chickens are color blind and have poor vision, but they actually have better vision than humans. Humans have three different cone types which mean we can perceive red, green and blue. Chickens have an additional two cone types which allows them to also distinguish violet and ultraviolet light. This means roosters can see the sunrise and crow well before humans can see it, often around an hour before humans do. 
     Chicken talk...chickens have over 30 unique noises they can produce which are used for different purposes. Their clucks and crows are mostly used to raise an alarm, normally either for danger or food. Hens cluck to their chicks while they are still in the eggs and as the chicks develop in the eggs they begin to peep and squeak back. This helps the chicks create a bond with their mother before they even hatch. 
     Chickens can recognize up to one hundred human faces so they are quick to learn who feeds them every morning. Some claim that chickens also recognize pet dogs. Human babies can grasp object permanence at around seven months, however baby chicks develop this ability in as early as 2 days old. Object permanence is an interesting subject in itself. Read more
     Chickens experience rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep? Its during REM sleep that dreaming occurs so it's assumed that chickens also dream. Or, perhaps they are having nightmares about their fate. Who knows? 

     The average chicken has a life expectancy of 3 to 4 years due to their vulnerability to predators and diseases. However, well cared for chicken can live 7-8 years. The oldest chicken ever, lived until she was 22 years old. Unfortunately for commercial chickens their life expectancy was never very long. Forty years ago it took 10 weeks to achieve a 4-pound market weight, but nowadays a broiler can achieve a 5-pound market weight in five weeks.
     Hens give off numerous signs when they are ready to lay an egg. Most prominent is her comb will become a much more vivid red. 
     The term pecking order comes from chickens because they operate on a very strict hierarchy where the top chickens lay down the rules to those beneath them. If two flocks are brought together they will normally hold jousts to determine the order. Hens will feed close to the most dominant roosters because he will protect them. 
     Chickens are diggers. They dig into the ground and create themselves a dust bath. They do this to keep themselves clean and on hot days it helps them cool down. 
     For a normal hen to lay 12 eggs they need to consume roughly four pounds of feed.

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