Do Chickens Have Tongues?

Like humans, chickens, too, have tongues. Chicken tongues are, however, much shorter than human tongues. Chicken tongues have an unusual appearance compared to human tongues. They are pretty small and pointy, and they don’t stick out like human tongues.

Chickens use their tongues for eating and tasting food. Their tongues play an essential role in how these birds drink water and digest food. Chickens also use their tongues for preening and communicating.

Can Chickens Taste Food?

Yes, chicken can taste food like humans. These birds have taste buds at the back of their tongues. The taste buds allow chickens to detect taste in everything they swallow. Although some scientific research shows that chickens have a scarce sense of taste, these birds can still taste food. Chickens are capable of tasting salty, bitter and sour food.

What Are the Main Functions of Chicken’s Tongue?

Chickens can’t survive without tongues because a lack of a tongue makes them unable to eat or taste. Chicken tongues have the same functions as human tongues. Here are the primary functions of a chicken’s tongue.


Chickens use their tongues for tasting. Their tongues have tasting buds at the back, enabling these birds to taste everything they are eating. Chicken tongues, however, don’t have many taste buds like human tongues. Despite their scarce sense of taste, chickens are capable of tasting the food items they are consuming.

Therefore, chickens can detect whether the food item they are eating is edible or inedible before swallowing the food item.

A chicken’s oral cavity contains the majority of taste buds since a chicken’s tongue is pretty tiny. Therefore, the oral cavity provides chickens with additional taste buds other than those at the back of their tongues. Because of their scarce sense of taste, chickens can only taste sweet foods, but these birds can’t detect spicy foods.

That explains why chickens happily consume peppers, notwithstanding how bitter peppers taste.


Chickens only eat by pecking at food rather than chewing because these birds don’t have teeth like we humans. While chickens rely on their beaks for pecking and picking up food items on the ground, they rely on their tongues for swallowing. A chicken’s tongue is crucial for manipulating food movements in a chicken’s mouth.

It facilitates food movements making it easy for chickens to swallow food. The barbs of a chicken’s tongue control food movements in the mouth, ensuring a chicken can swallow food by pushing the food down to the chicken’s gizzard. Chickens can’t swallow food down to their gizzards if they don’t have tongues.


Preening is the process whereby chickens remove waxy oil from their preen gland. This gland sits at the base of a chicken’s tail. While preening, a chicken will pinch the preen gland with its beak to remove the waxy oil from this gland. After removing the waxy oil from the preen glands with their beaks, chickens rely on their tongues to apply the waxy oil to their feathers.

A chicken without a tongue can’t preen effectively because it won’t be able to apply the oil all over its feathers. Therefore, a chicken’s tongue plays a vital role in the preening process.

Can Chicken Eat with Injured Tongue?

A severe beak injury can be pretty devastating to chickens. A beak injury can hinder your chicken from drinking and eating normally. Chickens can’t eat with injured tongues since the injuries on their tongues will prevent them from eating and swallowing food normally.

Chickens can have tongue injuries because of various health issues, and therefore you should inspect your birds’ tongues for injuries if they aren’t eating normally. These are some health issues that can potentially injure your chickens’ tongues, making them unable to eat normally.

  • Black tongue– This is among the health issues responsible for many tongue injuries in chickens. This condition is due to injuries on a chicken’s tongue due to a severe respiratory illness. The blackness and injuries on a chicken’s tongue due to this disease occurs when a chicken’s tongue dies off at its end.
  • Fowl Pox– Tongue injuries in chickens can also result from Fowl Pox, which causes a severe infection on a chicken’s tongue. You can detect whether your chicken has injuries on its tongue because of Fowl Pox by inspecting its tongue. If your chicken has Fowl Pox, its tongue will have swollen white lesions. This chicken disease also causes black sores on a chicken’s tongue. These sores are painful, making it difficult for chickens to eat normally.
  • Abnormalities– Abnormalities can also cause tongue injuries in chickens, making it difficult for these birds to eat and swallow food. For instance, some chickens have curved tongues, making them experience pain, ultimately deterring them from eating accordingly. Surgery is the perfect solution to correct the abnormalities that cause chicken tongue injuries. An Avian Vet will help correct your chickens’ tongue abnormalities through surgery.

How Big Are Chicken Tongues?

Chickens have tiny tongues because these birds have small mouths. You will rarely notice the size of your chickens’ tongues because chickens don’t stick their tongues out like most animals. Although there are different species of chickens, all species have a tongue with the same shape and size.

Even bigger birds have smaller tongues similar to the size and shape of their beaks. On average, the length of a chicken tongue is around 2 mm for adult chickens. Juveniles have tongues measuring below one millimeter long. Adult chickens’ tongues are 0.62 mm wide on average, while younger chickens’ tongues are around 0.34 mm wide.

The thickness of a chicken tongue can vary depending on the size and the breed of the chicken.

Are Chicken Tongues Edible?

Yes, chicken tongues are edible like chicken meat. Nonetheless, chicken tongues are pretty tiny, and they can’t produce a significant amount of meat like cow or goat tongues, which are significantly bigger. Most people eat chicken tongues along with chicken heads, and therefore they can’t explain precisely what a chicken tongue tastes like.


Chickens have tongues like other creatures, although they don’t stick out their tongues. These birds can’t live without tongues since they need these organs for eating, preening, swallowing, and drinking. While a chicken tongue is significantly smaller than other creatures’ tongues, the tongue is critical for the survival of these birds.

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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