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Is Your Toddler Smarter Than a Chicken? Experts Think Maybe Not

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A decades-long study of domesticated chickens by a United Kingdom professor claims that chickens are able to use logic, understand physics, and distinguish numbers up to five. These advanced capabilities in humans are usually only seen in children over four years of age.

As Christine Nicol, a professor at Bristol University, told the The Independent: “Chickens have the capacity to master skills and develop abilities that a human child can take months and years to accomplish.” In her interview with The Times she continues, “Studies over the past 20 years have revealed their finely honed sensory capacities, their ability to think, draw inferences, apply logic, and plan ahead.”

In the comprehensive study funded by the Happy Egg Company, Ms. Nicol elaborates on how chickens can apply logic to feeding, resources, and conflicts. It is noted in Nicol’s ‘Intelligent Hen’ study that 93% of hens can exhibit advanced planning and self-control during experiments with food supply availability.

Newly-hatched chicks were able to comprehend that an object that moves out of their sight still exists. By contrast, human babies master this around the age of one. Toddlers don’t begin walking until age two and most adults need a GPS to get to an intended destination. Remarkably, at just two weeks of age, chicks can navigate using the sun’s position and height during the day.

The intelligence of chickens has long been documented by many animal behaviorists. Tamar Geller, renowned dog coach to Oprah and other Hollywood celebrities, talks about her experience teaching a chicken to ‘heel’ in her book ‘The Loved Dog’.

Given all the research about the advanced capabilities of chickens, perhaps the joke about why the chicken crossed the road needs a more comprehensive answer. Perhaps it was an intelligent maneuver to escape not only the farmer but the foreboding development of factory farms.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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    Chicks can do math, including adding and subtracting. There is more information about the cognition of chicks and chickens at the online chicken museum: http://www.uncooped.org/

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