Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chickens: Not as Dumb as You May Think!

             Hey folks! Welcome to day 2 of "Chicken Week" on Mixed Bag Mama! Today I want to touch upon something that has really rubbed me the wrong way. I have seen a bunch of ignorant comments on various posts from some of the chicken and homesteading blogs I like to follow on Facebook lately, SO, I feel like attempting to dispel some of those "myths".
            The main "myth" I would like to try to dispel is that chickens are totally and completely stupid. While they're definitely not as smart as monkeys, for instance, they're not complete airheads either, as some evidently believe. Even amongst our own tiny flock of chickens, I have observed little things that help convince me of this.
            Believe it or not, chickens seem to be pretty fast learners, even if some of that is attributed to "instinct". We only had our chickens cooped up for 6 days before letting them free range during the day. They went back in their coop like good girls that first evening and we haven't had any problems with this at all.
            As they mature more, they realize that we (hubby, daughter, and I) don't pose a threat. When I let them out of a morning, at least two will usually come running out, I step back a few paces to give them some room, and all 4 of them come "flying" towards me. Some of you might think I'm crazy, but they could easily jump off of their "plank" the other way, away from me...But I truly believe they're happy to see me/thankful I let them out. lol
            They're also very curious creatures, much like a cat, if not more so. Again, call me crazy, but I believe curiosity (even if it's an animal's curiosity) comes from a yearning to learn about something. You can't tell me that a supposed "brain dead" animal would be curious about anything! We have enjoyed picking some chickweed while we still have some to give as a treat to our chickies. We'll squat down and shake it a bit, trying to tempt them, and they will come over, cock their head, and begin munching. They will even come up to Myka when she has some. (Although she doesn't hold it still for very long. lol) But that goes along with my whole "they realize we're not a threat" bit too. Even though most animals seem to be leery of small children at first, our chickens don't make much fuss when she comes wobbling over to them.
            One last note somewhat on this subject, I would also like to mention that chickens have individual personalities and "tastes". For instance (and I've been meaning to bring this up in the last chicken update or two), we have one chicken who is...different. One might consider it "off" or a "loner". (Side note: Really, REALLY hoping it's not a rooster!) It tends to stay away from the others and kind of does it's own thing...And cheeps like there's danger present at odd times. (Maybe the poor little bugger has PTSD after we had to corral our chickens into the coop early a couple of nights and IT was the only one to "cause problems", shall we say.) I swear this is the same chicken that was "different" when we first got them as chicks too. It has always seemed sleepier and liked dozing more than the others. We'll see. Maybe it will come around!
            Oh, and as far as the "different tastes" thing goes, this is evident when we give them chickweed treats. (Chickweed is a common "weed" that grows in yards, in case you didn't know. More than likely, you probably had/have some growing in your own yard this spring!) I've noticed that some of our chickens like the leaves and others prefer the flowers.
            Like I told my husband the other day, the only reason why I can see people thinking chickens are dumb is that they tend to follow the "group mentality". Yes, this can be a bad thing, whether human or animal. But, chickens being the flocking type creatures that they are, this happens. However, I don't think that makes them "dumb".

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