More chickens are raised and killed for food than all other land animals combined. McDonald’s suppliers alone kill hundreds of millions of chickens each year for its U.S. restaurants. But if more people knew that chickens are complex creatures who feel pain and distress, they might think twice before eating another nugget. Here are 10 surprising facts about chickens:


chickens Hannah and Janette from a kapporos investigation

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary 

Chickens can distinguish between more than 100 faces of their own species. Looks like elephants aren’t the only ones who have a great memory.


wild chickens outside

Vlad (the Impaler), Wingull, Gryphon | Photo by: normanack | CC by 2.0 

Chickens know who’s boss—they form complex social structures known as “pecking orders,” and every chicken knows his or her place on the social ladder.



Photo: © Drubbel 

Chickens have full-color vision—no color-blindness here!


chicken in grass / majkla 

Who likes to sunbathe? Apparently everyone—humans, cats, dogs, and chickens too! You can’t blame them, and they don’t even need sunscreen.


sleeping chicken / Zeeshan Qureshi 

Chickens are real sleeping beauties—they experience rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which means they dream just like we do.

6. 2. Hens in battery cages

Chickens have pain receptors that give them the ability to feel pain and distress. Put yourself in the shoes (or the feathers) of a battery hen—or 452 million of them, which is how many are used for their eggs each year.


chicken hen and chick / Rita Godoy 

Hens defend their young from predators. Looks like calling someone a “chicken” is actually a compliment!

8. Rooster

Who needs pepper spray? Chickens have more than 30 types of vocalizations to distinguish between threats.

9. chicken-v1

Chickens are just like human mothers who talk to their babies in the womb—a mother hen begins to teach calls to her chicks before they even hatch.

10. Baby chicken  in front  of green background

Last but not least, chickens are adorable—take a look for yourself! Help us spread the word about how interesting chickens are by sharing with your family and friends on Facebook and Twitter. And If you haven’t already, be sure to join peta2 to find out how to do more for chickens (and for all animals!).