More chickens are raised and killed for food than all other land animals combined. McDonald’s alone kills hundreds of millions of chickens each year for its U.S. restaurants. But if more people knew that chickens are complex creatures who feel pain and distress, they might think twice before eating another nugget.
Here are 10 surprising facts about chickens:
1. Chickens can distinguish between more than 100 faces of their own species. Looks like elephants aren’t the only ones who have a great memory.
2. Chickens know who’s boss—they form complex social structures known as “pecking orders,” and every chicken knows his or her place on the social ladder.
3. Chickens have full-color vision—no color-blindness here!
4. Who likes to sunbathe? Apparently everyone—humans, cats, dogs, and chickens too! You can’t blame them, and they don’t even need sunscreen.
5. Chickens are real sleeping beauties—they experience rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which means they dream just like we do.
6. Chickens have pain receptors that give them the ability to feel pain and distress. Put yourself in the shoes (or the feathers) of a battery hen—or 452 million of them, which is how many are used for their eggs each year.
7. Hens defend their young from predators. Looks like calling someone a “chicken” is actually a compliment!
8. Who needs pepper spray? Chickens have more than 30 types of vocalizations to distinguish between threats.
9. Chickens are just like human mothers who talk to their babies in the womb—a mother hen begins to teach calls to her chicks before they even hatch.
10. Last but not least, chickens are adorable—take a look for yourself!
Feeling inspired? Learn more fascinating facts and read more inspiring stories about chickens and other animals in the bestselling book Animalkind.
Help us spread the word about how interesting chickens are by sharing with your family and friends on Facebook and Twitter. If you haven’t already, be sure to join our Action Team to find out how to do more for chickens (and for all animals!).