Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Chickens Feel Empathy

According to new scientific research Chickens have feelings.

A recent study has discovered that chickens feel empathy towards others especially their own chicks. These results could have huge implications on the welfare of farmed chickens and those used in animal testing labs.

About bloody time...I'm all for that! If I had my way all chickens would be roaming free on 'real' Free range farms where their welfare is closely monitered.

So what exactly is 'Empathy'?

1. the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.
2. the imaginative ascribing to an object, as a natural object or work of art, feelings or attitudes present in oneself: By means of empathy, a great painting becomes a mirror of the self.

So what scientists are saying is that our Chickens really can feel anothers pain? In a nutshell Yes! This news really does not surprise me, as a Hen keeper all my chickens display different personality traits and act like bossy little women. They show an interest in everything around them and each other. They even seem to know when you talk to them.

So how did these scientist come to their conclusions?

Well a number of tests were carried out which included the ruffling of the feathers of chicks with puffs of air. Whenever the chicks showed any signs of upset it was mirrored in their Mums. Their heart rate increased and eye temperature lowered which is a recognised sign of stress. They became more alert and the hens made increased 'clucking' directed at their baby chicks.

The researcher involved, Joanne Edgar who is from the School of Veterinary Sciences at Bristol Uni, said:
''The extent to which animals are affected by the distress of others is of high relevance to the welfare of farm and laboratory animals. Our research has addressed the fundamental question of whether birds have the capacity to show empathic responses. We found that adult female birds possess at least one of the essential underpinning attributes of 'empathy', the ability to be affected by, and share, the emotional state of another.''

These findings are fantastic and I hope it makes a difference to those poor chickens who are stuck in the living hell of the commercial farms at the moment. I really hope their lives can be made a little more bearable from now on and an end to caged chicken farming is in sight.


  1. Well, now we know that "ruffle your feathers" is a phrase that truly has some meaning! I'm really not surprised, but we need those researchers to give us some "hard proof" sometimes.

  2. I'm so glad thhis has been brought to light with scientific proof at long last, it's far too long we've been living like rulers and not taking into consideration the feelings of the animals we share our world with. Beautiful photos too

  3. Maybe you'll want to put a facebook button to your blog. I just marked down this blog, but I had to make this by hand. Simply my $.02 :)

  4. I really hope the findings make a difference...I hate the way they are treated on the battery farms x

  5. Anon - I did already have a FB button in my sidebar but it was only a tiny one...I've added a larger one now, Thanks x

  6. Some interesting reading there and I really hope all this changes something about the battery farms. So sad what they endure x



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