Are chickens affectionate?

Chickens are originally raised for cockfighting, then later for eggs and meat. The way chickens’ bodies evolve from the Red Jungle Fowl showed what humans can do to make a type of animal more fitting for their needs.

But recently, some people noticed when petting a chicken that it can show certain attachments to its owner; and that makes some believe that chickens can show feelings to humans. So are chickens affectionate?

Are chickens affectionate?

Chickens can show affection to not just their fellow chickens and baby chicks, but humans as well. There are many behaviors that show chickens care and are fond of others.

How do chickens show affection?

Chickens, especially hens, have been known to show affection and empathy toward their fellow chickens and their baby chicks.

This behavior starts even before the hens’ baby chicks are born since the hens nurture their chicks when they lay the eggs and give out the love and care to the chicks.

When the hens’ chicks hatch, they will keep their eyes on the chicks and make sure they are safe and face no danger.

Moreover, the hens can show empathy to their baby chicks. They will experience distress when their chicks and other chickens nearby feel distressed. They know when other chickens and their baby chicks are in pain.

Chickens are affectionate
Chickens are affectionate

When in a flock, the hens show their dominance with the pecking order, in which they can resort to violence when there are chickens in the lower tiers trying to take their places.

But this doesn’t mean chickens are just about being aggressive. When a hen is removed from the flock with no motivation to show dominance, it can show its personality and affection

Without a flock, its defense is significantly lower, and it will need to find something to protect it; and the owner is the one chosen by the hen for protection and guidance.

The clearest way of chickens showing affectionate is following their owners around obsessively. The owners can further make their bonds with the chickens stronger by feeding them using the owners’ hands.

Chickens can recognize up to 100 human faces and associate them with good or bad experiences. They will remember if the owners treated them well or badly, thereby showing affection to the good owners.

The step above chickens following their owners is them letting their owner hold them, just remember to hold them gently and properly. Some will even want to be petted or cuddled.

Further reading: Are chickens friendly?

Do chickens like to be petted?

Chickens love showing affection to others and love being given affection as well. One of the ways they like to receive affection from humans is petting.

To pet a chicken, you will need to create a bond first with the chickens so that they are used in your presence. Then, you need to interact with them gently and calmly. Just try to move your body slowly and don’t make aggressive movements.

Here is how to pet your chickens to show them that you care about them too:

Approach the chicken

When approaching the chicken, you just need to keep quiet and try not to make any loud noise so as not to startle the chicken. Don’t come in dead silence either since you need to let it know you are coming.

To increase the chance of the chicken not running away, you can come from behind the chickens since they tend to squat down and be ready for mating.

Also, don’t move too fast since fast movement will make the chicken run away from you. The chicken may think you are a predator at first.

Once you are near the chicken, you can now start to pet its back first, remember to move your hands slowly as well. After that, it depends on whether it will stay with you or not.

Petting a chicken
Petting a chicken

Make the chicken approach you

First, try to get within the chicken’s vision and sit or crouch down. If you are not towering the chicken, it may willingly come toward you.

You can sprinkle some chicken food around you to encourage the chicken to come. Wait until it sees you and you can lay the food down.

The food you use should be the chicken’s favorite like table scraps or mealworms, but don’t use too much. The food should be fed in moderation as a treat only.

This is when you can further increase your bond with the chicken. Put the treat in your palms and feed the chicken with your hands.

Once the chicken is in your reach, you can start moving your hand slowly toward the chicken (don’t make any sudden movement), and just like above, pet its back, remember to let the chicken see your hand as your hand approaches it.

Do chickens get sad when you take away their eggs?

While the chickens can show affection to their baby chicks, they won’t feel sad when you take away their eggs since to them, laying is just an instinct like scratching and perching.

Normal hens don’t lay eggs with the intention of hatching baby chicks, they may even leave their egg when they are done laying. So you won’t make the chicken sad when taking away their eggs.

In fact, the instinct will make them lay more eggs when they see their nests don’t have enough eggs. This is one of the ways people can make a hen lay more egg than usual.

But when a hen decides to sit on and incubate the eggs, it will have the strong instinct to hatch, and even attack outside movement if it sees the movement as a threat to its eggs.

Final thoughts

So, are chickens affectionate? Chickens can show affection to not only their chicks and fellow chickens, but also humans. They love to show affection to others and like being given affection by humans as well, through petting.


Image credits – Photo by  Brett Jordan, Carole Kümmecke on