International Day of Respect for Chickens 2011

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International Day of Respect for Chickens 2011

Some chicken-related news in honour of International Day of Respect for Chickens 2011.  (You can read about the history of this holiday, which was started by United Poultry Concerns, in last year’s blog post.)

The University of Bristol’s Animal Welfare and Behaviour research group performed a study in which chicks were exposed to “a puff of air” in front of their mothers:

…the hens’ heart rate increased and eye temperature decreased. The hens also changed their behaviour, and reacted with increased alertness, decreased preening and increased vocalisations directed to their chicks. (The foundations of empathy are found in the chicken)

Now, anyone who has spent any time around chickens is well-aware that they’re just as capable of empathy as other animals.  Hens in particular are famously good moms, so much so that we still use old terms like “mother hen” to describe a protective–or even overprotective!–person.

“They would rather die for their chicks than seek safety in flight . . .”

Aldrovandi – 16th century

from United Poultry Concerns

The last paragraph in the article, and the most important in relation to what the scientists have proven:

The researchers used chickens as a model species because, under commercial conditions, chickens will regularly encounter other chickens showing signs of pain or distress due to routine husbandry practices or because of the high levels of conditions such as bone fractures or leg disorders.

If you’d like to do something to commemorate International Respect for Chickens Day, United Poultry Concerns has a list of very fine suggestions here.

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