Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? To Get Her Diploma.

chickens.jpgMFA volunteer Caroline Sanchez gives us the low down on chicken intelligence.

How many people do you know who compete over whose toddler is smarter? How about whose dog is smarter? Well, a recent study revealed that chickens may be more intelligent than both.

According to Christine Nicol, a professor of animal welfare at Bristol University and head of the study, chickens are capable of mathematical reasoning and logic, including numeracy, self-control, and even basic structural engineering. These traits are not seen in children until the age of four.

"Studies over the past 20 years have revealed their finely honed sensory capacities, their ability to think, draw inferences, apply logic and plan ahead," Nicol remarked of chickens. Additionally, Nicol's study found that chickens could recognize numerals up to five and were capable of transitive inference (e.g., if A is greater than B and B is greater than C, then A must be greater than C).

Yet, rather than be respected for the intelligent individuals they are, chickens are reduced to miserable lives on today's factory farms. Laying hens, for example, are crammed into small, wire battery cages, unable to spread their wings, move around, or perform natural behaviors like dust bathing and perching. They are treated as mere production machines without a care given to their physical or emotional states.

Of course, all animals have the capacity to suffer, and intelligence shouldn't be a measure of an animal's right to live free of unnecessary cruelty. The best way to save chickens and all farmed animals from lives of pain and deprivation is simply to leave them off your plate. For more information on transitioning to a humane vegan diet, check out ChooseVeg.com. For tips on baking without eggs, click here.