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Chickens 101: Personality

Chickens 101: Personality

You might think the idea of a chicken having a personality is preposterous – all they do is walk around, eat and lay eggs all day right?  Wrong!  Chickens definitely have distinct personalities – we promise you. They learn, communicate, even have arguments (with each other – not you)! Watching them interact can provide endless hours of amusement.  Here’s some queries you might not have even considered asking if you’re thinking about owning some chickens!

Do chickens have a social structure like humans?

Yes! Chickens conform to something called a ‘pecking order’ – which is essentially a hierarchy of power where each chicken falls.  Heard of the saying ‘I rule this roost’? It definitely has practical applications!  The chickens work out their social structure in their early weeks of life, and each are definitely well aware of where they stand in the order.  They can even recognise the individual faces of the others in the coop.  Where they are in the pecking order often dictates how they exhibit their personalities – just like humans! The hens who rule the roost may seem fearless and boisterous, whereas the ones down the bottom are often shy.  If one of the low ranked chickens tries to feed before their leaders, they may get a nasty jab to teach them a lesson!  The similarities between chickens and people seem to be piling up…observe your flock outside the coop and see if you can identify who’s boss!

a rooster at the head of backyard chicken pecking order

Do chickens communicate with each other?

Chickens are very adept communicators – they have over 30 different tones that they use depending on the situation.  For example, one sound relates to threats, another tone is what a mother uses towards her chicks.  In addition, the older chickens will teach the younger chickens habits and skills when they’re in a free range environment.

Will they try and communicate with me?

Absolutely!  Many chicken owners laugh about hearing the anxious clucks of their nagging chickens around feeding time, as if they’re reminding them to throw the scraps out the window! A writer for The Guardian even noted that once he had a hen “seek me out once [she] laid an egg, as if to tell me it’s ready for collection.”

Do different breeds have personality traits commonly associated with them?

Yes – some breeds are renown for having a particular mood or trait more than others.  For example, the Barred Plymouth Rock is renown for its gentle, sweet-natured temperament (making it great for families), whereas the Ancona is loud and flighty!

chickens walking in pecking order

Chickens have amazing personalities that really can provide endless hours of amusement.  Watching them grow and find their place in the flock is an amazing experience that makes raising chickens all the more fun! Don’t be fooled thinking that chickens can’t be as unique, loving and loyal as other pets!

Have You Hugged Your Chicken Today?

If you have some stories about the crazy personalities in your coop, or whether they have any funny communicating habits, please write and tell us all about it! We’d love to hear them and share them with our followers, as we always enjoy hearing about your unique flocks.

Sources and further reading

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