Can chickens taste/smell?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by codybird, Aug 2, 2009.

  1. codybird

    codybird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 7, 2009
    Near Myrtle Beach
    A chicken's diet runs the taste, texture spectrum. Anatomically they have a tongue and nostrils, but is one for moving food and the other just for breathing?

    Can a creature taste or smell if it's diet consists of:

    Texture..................from styrofoam to rocks and all in between.
    Smell.................from roses to their own poo and everything between.
    Taste..........from grapes to dill pickles to slugs to wasps to lizards.
    Taste...............from bread to cayenne pepper and all in between?

    My chickens do not smell before they peck........they peck first.

    Anyone else out there have enough free time to ponder the truly important mysteries of our time?

    Mods, I would have put this post into the "Pondering Inane Subjects" forum, but could not find it.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2009
    1 person likes this.
  2. danielbrown

    danielbrown Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 27, 2009
    Spartanburg, sc
    Dogs eat poo and lick their own butt. They have a much better sense of smell than humans. Most other animals don't find the smell of poo "gross" like humans do.

    Chickens do have a sense of smell and taste. I have seen them peck something, spit it out and walk away.

    I have no idea why they love styrofoam, must be the texture or sound it makes when they peck it.

    They eat rocks for grit to digest their food.
  3. Bridget399

    Bridget399 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2009
    South Western PA
    My chickens will eat certain treats before others. They prefer tomatoes to lettuce, and corn to strawberry tops (I Know, picky!).
  4. PeeperKeeper

    PeeperKeeper Chillin' With My Peeps

    You know?... I've wondered about that myself. They are crazy about melons but will eat small nuts and bolts too.
    Ours are free ranged and have free choice pellet feed at their whim. Still they will come up to the house and act like they are starving to death!
    I can't understand why they's eat styrofoam when there are so many bugs in the yard. And they love Japanese beetle but won't give Colorado Potato Beetles a second thought.
  5. wombat

    wombat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 23, 2009
    I've seen ours rub their beaks on the ground to get rid of something they've tried and don't like. It took them a few days to get used to the tase of melon as a treat. We usually give them the kid's "leftovers" to pick clean, but several would run about wiping their beaks on the ground the first few times they tried it!
  6. codybird

    codybird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 7, 2009
    Near Myrtle Beach
    Daniel Brown: Good point, but dogs eat protein(poo). I know of no mammal, but man, that subjects itself to capsicum under the self delusion of enjoyment. The great griz will cry like a baby when sprayed with pepper spray, when it is finished eating you.

    Vultures smell, but will not eat styrofoam unless a possum rotted on it.

    Stand back everyone I'm going to Google!

    Apparently they have a great sense of smell and a not so great sense of taste. That's what you find out when you map a chicken's genome.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2009
  7. Intileo

    Intileo Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 8, 2008
    st augustine florida
    I can tell you that chickens can indeed smell, only because of a very sad event that took place in my flock. Namely, they attacked and blinded a Buff Orp hen while out freeranging one afternoon. So now I have a blind hen, who unfortunately my son is very fond of, and who I have to keep in a very controlled environment so she can find her grain and water. I have her, during the night and most of the day, in a very large dog crate, with her container of water in the corner on one side, and her grain in the corner on the other.

    One day, I swapped the containers, feeling she wasn't drinking enough and thinking maybe it was because of a problem with the location of the water. Perhaps it felt strange to her... not comfy. I don't know! Having swapped the water and grain, she walked straight over the grain container, pecking at the air until she made contact with the grain, and began eating. No confusion because it wasn't water. She was pecking, the way she would normally do in the other corner. Thereafter she continued to eat her grain in the corner where the water used to be, and worry me that she wasn't drinking enough from the water container where her grain used to be. If I swap them over again, she heads right over to the grain.

    I don't know why I'm surprised by this evidence that she can smell. I suppose because I've perceived chickens as such visually-oriented creatures. Now I can see her hearing and smell are how she gets around.

    There's also a scientific article: talking about the 'acute sense of smell' chickens have.
  8. RocketDad

    RocketDad Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 25, 2008
    Near US 287
    Parrots like hot peppers, too. When I was right out of high school I worked for a while in a wholesale pet supply that also packaged a store-brand of birdseed mixes. We had NIOSH respirators to wear when mixing "parrot chow." The dust from the tiny little red peppers would burn the skin on the back of your neck if you got too much on you, but the mix was a big seller to parrot owners.
  9. wishful

    wishful Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 2, 2010
    Tacoma, WA
    I would assume they can taste and smell. As far as red peppers and the like - as far as I know, birds can't taste capsaicin, the chemical that makes hot peppers so spicy. Pepper seeds don't survive our eating of them, so the peppers developed the chemical as a defensive mechanism so we're not the ones eating them. Instead, they can be left for other animals (like birds) who can eat the fruits and spread the seeds. I think mammals can taste capsaicin and birds can't? At least I think so... Hmm. Time to google this.

    "The seeds of Capsicum plants are predominantly dispersed by birds. Birds do not have the receptor to which capsaicin binds, so it does not function as an irritant for them. Chili pepper seeds consumed by birds pass through the digestive tract and can germinate later, but mammals have molars, which destroy seeds and prevent them from germinating. Thus, natural selection may have led to increasing capsaicin production because it makes the plant less likely to be eaten by animals that do not help it reproduce. However, there is evidence that capsaicin first evolved as an anti-fungal agent."

    There we go [​IMG] That says it better than what I was trying to say, I think. And apparently tarantula venom activates the same pain pathways. That's kinda interesting, I think.

    Anyway, didn't mean to go off topic to a specific taste. But I think they can taste and smell, yeah.
  10. Cindiloohoo

    Cindiloohoo Quiet as a Church Mouse

    Dec 19, 2009
    Southwest TN
    They eat poo for the same reason kids eat bologna...they just like junk food [​IMG]

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