When in their natural surroundings chickens form complex social hierarchies, also known as pecking orders, and every chicken knows his or her place on the social ladder and remembers the faces and ranks of more than 100 other birds. People who have spent time with chickens know that each bird has a different personality that often relates to his or her place in the pecking order—some are gregarious and fearless, while others are more shy and watchful; some chickens enjoy human company, while others are standoffish, shy, or even a bit aggressive. Just like dogs, cats, and humans, each chicken is an individual with a distinct personality.

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Several research teams have recently published findings on chicken intelligence that have challenged old notions about avian cognitive abilities. For instance, scientists have found that chickens clearly understand cause-and-effect relationships, an advanced comprehension skill that puts their intellect beyond that of dogs. In the book The Development of Brain and Behaviour in the Chicken, Dr. Lesley Rogers, a professor of neuroscience and animal behavior, concludes, It is now clear that birds have cognitive capacities equivalent to those of mammals, even primates.

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The chickens are about 31 days old. Clicking on a photo will enlarge the photo.

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