Do Chickens Have Brains? 5 Interesting Facts

Determining whether chickens have brains or not, is a debate that has been going on for thousands of years. A recent analysis gave the topic some closure by depicting chickens as emotional and intelligent creatures. In addition, it revealed that the birds could demonstrate complex thinking capabilities.

chickens have brains

Where is the Chicken Brain Located?

In all land-dwelling birds, including chickens, brains are located in the cranial cavity. Through various studies on other animals, experts discovered that most birds have a visual memory of their surroundings which lasts up to five years.

Although scientists have not yet conducted this analysis on chickens, mere observation of their mannerisms around the yard speaks volumes. Without any doubt, a chicken quickly finds their way into familiar territories without much struggle.

This trait explains that chicken brains contain individual components that work together to produce overall intelligence and cognitive behavior. What are these Brain Parts? Chicken brains consist of three specific parts:


This is linked to higher mental processes such as comprehension and analysis. It also controls movement to memory and emotions.


Hypothalamus regulates body temperature and hunger amongst other necessary biological functions like vomiting, sleeping, drinking, etc.


This part is responsible for executing subconscious commands such as breathing, digestion, and heartbeat. In general terms, a chicken brain contains all the typical structures found in larger animals.

Are Chickens Intelligent?

Chickens are pretty intelligent and have proven to perform some complex tasks. Most importantly, some experts have discovered that they can learn how to use tools aptly by watching other flock members or when given food rewards.

Therefore, next time you grab your next bucket of KFC, remember that these tasty creatures have more personality than you assume! They cannot only see some colors far more beautifully than us, but they can also distinguish human faces from up to a kilometer away too!

It has been scientifically demonstrated that chickens can differentiate between more than one hundred thousand different colors. This makes them capable of seeing some colors far more vibrant than our own eyes. In addition, they can discern ultraviolet light which is a unique characteristic.

Another interesting fact about chicken intelligence is their reliance on instinct rather than learning from experience. For instance, if a predator steals one of their chicks, they may become wary of all predators and keep a closer eye on their brood.

Chickens can also distinguish between different types of food and will always choose the largest and most abundant option available. Not only that, but they will also prioritize foods based upon nutritional value over taste alone.

Can Chickens Survive With Damaged Brain?

It has been posited that chickens can withstand impacts due to their hollow bones (similar to those found in birds) and cerebrospinal fluid cushions located within them. While their brains may become bruised during such incidents, the chances of them suffering permanent damage or bleeding despite such instances are unlikely.

Still, there are unfortunate incidents when the injury is extensive and life-threatening. In such a scenario, it is almost impossible for a bird to survive if the injury runs deep. This is because all parts of a chicken brain are essential to their continued existence.

Furthermore, the brain cannot heal itself to compensate for the damage caused by injury or illness. If any part of the brain gets damaged, it is prudent to pull the trigger on your bird to avoid further suffering.

A chicken’s brain may last for several years (or even decades) upon death if stored correctly. Eventually, all brains decompose and decay; however, the way that they do depends upon external factors such as the temperature and humidity of their surrounding environment.

How Big is a Chicken’s Brain?

Chickens have a brain size of about 2 shelled peanuts. Their brains may only be roughly about 1.18 inches (3 cm) in length and 0.4 inches (1 cm) in height and weigh about 0.83 to 0.97 ounces (23.7 to 27.5 grams) when harvested from an animal. The weight will vary between chicken varieties due to differences in body size and muscle density.

Despite having an above-average brain size for their body mass (about 2% of total body weight), chickens will not use it if the head is allowed to grow too big! If you can find any chicken with a huge head, then chances are humans have selectively bred them.

Do Chickens Have Feelings?

Whether or not a chicken experiences emotions is somewhat open for interpretation. In fact, chickens are so docile that they will often sit perfectly still (even after having their necks snapped!) to avoid being slain by predators.  Mainly, this is because the brain develops more slowly in birds than mammals, leaving them without an instinct to flee.

However, this is unlikely as other animals without a developed sense of danger such as wild animals. For example, chickens can recognize their owner’s voice and will anticipate food whenever they hear it.

They even have temper tantrums when they don’t get what they want. Nevertheless, this is not due to an increase in intelligence but instead because of their ability to mimic actions.

Wrap Up

Whether or not chickens have brains is a continuous bone of contention topic among scientists. Altogether, even if the cranial capacity is slightly smaller, chickens present no less intelligence than other animals.

Moreover, some scientists believe that there are multiple ‘types’ of chickens with different levels of cognitive prowess.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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