Thursday, 14 April 2016

Poultry In Motion – The Inner Workings of Our Favourite Bird

Chickens are the most popular livestock in the world. We all love them; fried, grilled, sautéed, peppersouped, suya-ed, skewered, shredded, marinated, with fgarlic, with cumin, with maggi, with rosemary, in soup. Okay you get my drift. The list goes on but it’s always tasty. But have you ever thought of them as more than just meat or a source of fresh eggs? In 2004, chickens became the first bird to have their full genome sequenced, uncorking a deluge of scientific inquiry into their physiology, as well as their social behaviors and even their psychological dimensions. Some people believe that are smarter than your toddler and exhibit learning and communication behaviors on par with primates. Now that’s a food for thought.
Based on my religious inclination, I believe everything has a soul but yet I am not able to answer why the chicken crossed the road. But here are some curious facts
1. Communication - All that clucking is not random—chickens have a language of their own. Scientists claim that in addition to saying “cluck,” chickens “pok,” “brawk,” and “squawk.” And from these basic syllables, chickens are capable of at least 30 different calls. Imagine what your chicken is announcing “INTRUDER ! INTRUDER!!” Every time you go to pick an egg

2. Do Chickens Have Feelings- Yes, says British researcher Jo Edgar, who determined that hens, at least, experience empathy. He designed an experiment that simulated chick stress and found that the mother hens behaved as if they themselves were experiencing the pain—a classic sign of empathy. Chickens are also known to display mourning behavior when another chicken in the flock dies, and they will show signs of depression if they are removed from the flock and placed in solitary quarters.

3. A surprising number of people suffer from fear of chickens, a condition known as alektorophobia, which may not be as unreasonable as it sounds given what scientists have been discovering about them. Recent research has shown that chickens can distinguish between more than 100 faces of their own species and of humans, so they know who you are and will remember you if you treat them badly. They’ve demonstrated complex problem-solving skills and have super-sensory powers, such as telescopic eyesight (like birds of prey) and nearly 360-degree vision (like owls). Chickens are the closest living relatives of the Tyrannosaurus rex (researchers determined this in 2007 by testing proteins from a particularly well-preserved T-rex leg bone), and they outnumber human beings on the planet 3 to 1. There hasn’t yet been an Orwellian uprising of chickens revolting against farmers due to poor coop conditions, but to all those that use tiny “battery” cages, cut off beaks, and engage in other atrocities common to industrial chicken farming—watch out, your birds may be plotting against you.
4. Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road – This is still one question scientists don’t have a theory for. I guess we just have to settle for poultry in motion

Ps. If you have found this interesting or put a smile on your face, please drop a comment to let us know. This was inspired by The Modern Farmer article by Brian Barth