Super Awesome Chicken Facts For Kids (# 11 Will Surprise You!)
Gallus gallus domesticus. Who would have thought an animal so common would have such an interesting scientific name? Yes, I’m talking about chickens, the most familiar bird (fowl, if you’d like to be more technical) species in the world. With an estimated total population of 25,000 billion, these domestic animals are more in number than any other bird species! If you have a child who loves chicken, whether live or cooked, these chicken facts for kids will surely pique his interest more!
History Of Chicken Domestication
The domestic chicken is considered a subspecies of the red junglefowl, a bird that still exists in many parts of Southeast Asia today. It was believed to have been hybridized with the G. sonneratii, which is also known as the gray junglefowl.
However, recent studies suggest that the chicken we know today may have had multiple origins. Despite how this well-known fowl has come into existence, it cannot be denied that man has been benefiting from it since the very beginning.
It was first known as the “bird that gives birth every day” in 15th-century BC Egypt, and it has never stopped doing so since. But seriously, for over 8,000 years, humans have been keeping chickens primarily for their meat and egg.
There are other reasons that people domesticate and breed chicken, though, other than for the sole purpose of making an omelet out of their eggs. Some people simply find the behavior of these animals to be both entertaining and educational, and therefore, keep them as pets. And speaking of educational, here are 21 fun facts you probably do not know about chickens.
Fun Chicken Facts For Kids (And For Parents, Too!)
1. Chickens have good memories, so good that theirs could rival those of elephants.
If you keep chickens at home, you have probably observed how good these animals are at remembering things. Just like dogs, cats, and primates, they can complete complex tasks, demonstrate self-control, and even learn by observing other chickens. They even worry about the future. What’s most interesting about them is that they can pass on their cultural knowledge generationally! This study suggests that free-range chickens, in particular, have the ability to learn and remember.
2. Chickens communicate, and that with over 30 vocalizations, each with its distinct meaning.
Chickens are very social animals. They don’t just learn by watching how other chickens behave, but they also inform each other about what they observe. If they want to warn the brood of impending danger, they will produce a sound to signal the others to safety. Chicks also have their own way of letting their mothers know of whether they’re comfortable or not.
3. Chickens dream just like humans do, perhaps mostly about roaming free outside the four walls of the fence they’re confined.
Do you know why a chicken’s eyes move when it’s sleeping? It’s because it’s dreaming. Rapid eye movement or REM during sleep is only experienced by humans, some mammals, and birds. For humans, REM could last for several minutes, even an hour. For chickens, however, it only lasts a few seconds. What’s even more interesting is that chickens can sleep and be awake at the same time!
4. Chickens understand who’s boss, sometimes more than humans do.
If you’ve seen a chicken picking on other chickens and pecking them incessantly, it’s not doing it just because it’s a bully. Chickens have social structures called “pecking orders.” This is a natural process they have to work out among themselves and determines each of the bird’s individual roles within the brood.
These animals know who’s boss. However, you won’t observe this behavior among chickens who are confined in farms and factories because they’re packed into sheds in such places, causing their social hierarchy to collapse and sometimes forcing them to eat one another.
Here’s a video showing how the pecking order works:
5. Chickens have three eyelids, and you’ll be surprised that they use the third more often than the upper and lower ones.
In addition to the upper and bottom eyelids, chickens have a third eyelid that is hidden in the corner of each of its eyes nearest the beak. This third eyelid is referred to as a nictitating membrane, which is also found in reptiles, amphibians, and other birds. It sometimes acts as a pair of safety goggle, but more like a windshield wiper most of the time.
6. Chickens can survive up to 25 years in the wild!
In their natural environment, chickens can live up to 25 years. Unfortunately, chickens bred in captivity today do not live to see more than 60 days, as they are routinely killed as soon as they are ready to be eaten. You will seldom see a chicken aged ten years and above nowadays, but this blogger claims to have a New Hampshire bantam cochin mix that’s already 11 years old at the time the article was written. In 2006, the first ever chicken to receive the title of World's Oldest Living Chicken from Guinness World Records died. She was named Matilda by her owners.
7. Chickens can see better in color than humans!
Aside from having three eyelids, chickens have excellent eyesight, too! They can see color shades better than humans and can even move each of their eyes independently. What’s more, they have a 300-degree field of vision! They use this incredible ability mostly for keeping track of time, watching out for predators, and of course, finding food.
8. Chickens are smarter than human toddlers!
Despite their poor reputation, chickens are not at all stupid. In fact, they are more intelligent than human babies and toddlers and can exhibit that intelligence within just a few hours of getting out of their egg! According to study, it takes children until the age of four or five to accomplish the same feats that chickens can do.
Such feats include numeral mastery and basic engineering. In another study, researchers discovered that chickens feel emotions such as happiness, frustration, and boredom, the same emotions that we humans also possess. This goes to show that chickens are anything but dumb.
9. Chickens lay different colors of eggs, not just white.
Depending on breed, chickens can lay blue, green, and even pink eggs, and not just white or brown. Leghorn chickens, for instance, lay white eggs. Orpington’s, on the other hand, produce brown eggs, while Ameraucana lay blue eggs. If you want to see pink eggs, you should go and breed Croad Langshan instead. Other colored egg layers include Cream Legbar, Marans, Welsummer, and Penedesenca. Given that the chickens are naturally bred, there’s really no difference between the eggs they produce in terms of nutritional value. And nope, a blue egg won’t produce a blue chicken. Here’s a fun video of a hen laying different colored eggs. According to the uploader of the video, though, they just colored the eggs for Easter cheers.
10. Chickens are good teachers. In fact, mother hens can teach their babies even before they hatch!
Remember number 2 where we mentioned that chickens have impressive communication skills? Well, mother hens teach their chicks their language even before they hatch! A mother hen would softly chuckle to her chicks while she sits on the eggs, and the unborn chicks would chirp back to her from inside their protective shells!
11. Chickens are related to the fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex!
How cool is that? A chicken, which is a seemingly weak and dumb bird is related to the all-time favorite tyrant lizard, the T-rex! It may be too far fetched, but analysis of protein found in the remains of a 68-million-year-old T-rex confirms that it indeed shares common ancestry with chickens. In light of this “terrifying” discovery, perhaps people would treat chickens a little bit more respect from now on.
12. Chickens make adorable pets, even more adorable than cats or dogs (sorry furry animal lovers!)
We’ve talked about how chickens are smarter than human babies, and they may also be smarter than dogs in some ways, and more adorable, too! If you’re allergic to fur, then a chicken would make the perfect pet for you. They’re intelligent and can be trained, too. Most breeds are generally docile and are ideal even for children.
They are also very social and are very fun and interesting to watch running around, playing with each other, and even sunbathing. Unless there’s an ordinance in your area that bans roosters due to their crowing or hens due to health and zoning regulations, I see no reason why you shouldn’t consider keeping one as a pet. If you don’t believe me how adorable chickens are, here’s a video to prove it:
There are hundreds of chicken breeds all over the world. The most popular include the Leghorn, the Rhode Island Red, the Sussex, and the Hybrid due to their ability to lay over 200 eggs per year. However, just because you have one of these breeds doesn’t mean you’ll get a huge supply of eggs all the time. Various factors affect how many eggs a chicken would lay, but that’s another subject we could probably discuss in the future.