do chickens have pheremones?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by misterhandsome, Jul 13, 2011.

  1. misterhandsome

    misterhandsome Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 3, 2011
    Kemptville, Ontario
    When our roo first came to the coop the first thing he did was grab the two hens that are currently laying and have his way with them, so to speak. All five seconds of it. He didn't go for any of the hens that aren't laying.
    About a week later, out of the blue, he does this with one of the hens that is not currently laying. I've been expecting her to begin soon.

    So I'm wondering if chickens emit and can sense sex hormones, and whether the interest of my roo in this hen is a sign that she's about to begin laying.

    Thanks!
    Tina
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Chicken do have a sense of smell as even smell of foul tasting insects makes my hens do the shake, trill and walk away. I am not aware of any research indicating any birds employ pheromones although that means nothing in respect whether they actually employed or not. Even we produce and respond to pheromones.

    Roosters often inclined to cover (copulate with) any strange adult hen. On more than one occasion I have introduced a new game hen to flock that upon release from carrier or burlap sack flies length of football feild and rooster seeing or hearing such a new hen immediately takes off flying after her with purpose of covering her. He usually succeedes. Hens trying to enter a new flock often submit to dominant rooster to get his protection, kind of like chimpanzees and possibly us.

    The hen also gives signals, some which you may be sensitive to, that indicate her reproductive status. Receptive hens can give overt invitations to copulate by crouching down in front of male and rasing wings up slightly over back. Other less obvious signals are the way contour (body) feathers and tail are held. Hens keep contour feathers so body looks like a box and tail pinched at 45 degree angle from horizontal look hot to a rooster. Even method of hen's walk might be informative. I think a receptive hens also make vocalizations that intended for being heard only at close range. This based on birds that I have tamed to an extreme that act as if I am not present.
     
  3. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens

    to the best of my knowledge.. all critters have pheromones .. even us
    I'm sure he can smell which of the girls are mature and which aren't.. plus I'm sure their body language tells him a lot too
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Quote:Smelling different? That is something that can be tested when my cold passes. If scent important for identification, then it would likely be invovled between hen and chicks. My hens with similar aged chicks have to get really close to scrutenize a mixed flock of bitties to determine which is theirs. Sound and visual cues important from distance but up close opportunity for scent use very much present. Scent in this situation would not be a pheromone as much as an ID tag.
     

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